Pressed By a Double Loyalty

Hungarian Attendance at the Second Vatican Council, 1959-1965
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440 pages

The Second Vatican Council is the single most influential event in the twentieth-century history of the Catholic Church. The book analyzes the relationship between the Council and the “Ostpolitik” of the Vatican through the history of the Hungarian presence at Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII, elected in 1958, was a catalyst. He thought that his most urgent task was to renew contacts with the Church behind the iron curtain.

Hungary, too, did not consider Vatican II primarily an ecclesiastical event. It was considered a component of the negotiations between the Holy See and the Kádár regime: Hungarian participation at the Council was made possible by the new pragmatic attitude in Hungarian church politics. After the crushing of the 1956 Revolution, churches in Hungary thought that the regime would last and were willing to compromise. During the Council Hungary became the experimental laboratory of the Vatican’s new eastern policy. Fejérdy tries to establish whether it was it a Vatican decision or a Soviet instruction.



List of Abbreviations


Part I.—The (Ante-) Preparatory Phase of the Council (1959–1962)

1. The Holy See

1.1. John XXIII and the Council

1.2. The supreme pontiffs and Communism

1.3. The Holy See and Hungary

1.4. Efforts to ensure Hungarian participation in the Council

2. The Hungarian People’s Republic

2.1. A shift in ecclesiastical policy

2.2. The place of the Holy See in Hungarian ecclesiastical policy

2.3. The Hungarian People’s Republic and the issue of Council attendance

2.4. A decision is reached in Hungary

3. The Catholic Church in Hungary

3.1. The state of the Hungarian Catholic Church in the period of preparations

3.2. Hungarian council recommendations

3.3. The Hungarian bishops and the question of Council attendance

Part II.—Hungary and the Holy See during the Second Vatican Council (1962–1959)

1. The Holy See: Council and Ostpolitik

1.1. The Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church: Ecclesia ad intra

1.2. The council and humanity: Ecclesia ad extra

1.3. Vatican Ostpolitik at the time of the Council

1.4. Modus non moriendi in Hungary

2. The Hungarian People’s Republic: Council and “Vatican policy”

2.1. The means of achieving total control

2.2. Goals to be achieved through attendance at the Council

3. Controlled Freedom: The Hungarian Catholic Church and the Second Vatican Council

3.1. The council delegation

3.2. Hungarian contributions to the work of the Council

3.3. Negotiations with the Holy See

Part III.—Epilogue: After the Council

1. Holy See: Dialogue and Ostpolitik

1.1. Dialogue after the Council

1.2. The Holy See and Hungary after the Council

2. The Hungarian People’s Republic

2.1. Political appraisal of the Second Vatican Council

2.2. The reception of the Council by the state in Hungary

3. Hungarian Church

3.1. Learning about the Council

3.2. Practical reception

3.3. Theological reception



Annex 1. Hungarian participants in the Second Vatican Council and their escorts

Annex 2. Hungarian Council Fathers de iure and de facto

Annex 3. Hungarian contributions to the work of the Council

Sources and Bibliography


"The new research shows that we can learn were. The new insights include the role of religion and religious institutions, theological, political, and ideological changes within the Catholic world and the Soviet bloc, the complexity of international relations, spy networks, and more during a time of detente. Hungary, as Andras Fejerdy shows in Pressed by a Double Loyalty, had become a “testing ground” for new approaches and policies by both the Vatican and the Soviet bloc. Fejerdy’s thorough study is an important contribution to the history of religion and diplomacy during the Cold War."
"Fejérdy non è né un apologetico laudatore né un aprioristico critico dell’Ostpolitik: la studia, la registra, ne rileva lo svolgimento cercando una valutazione oggettiva al di là delle passioni. Ma è una valutazione forse non facile a trovarsi sulla base della documentazione da lui prevalentemente usata, prodotta dai servizi di spionaggio e controllo dello Stato comunista. I rapporti di tali servizi spesso sono deformati dall’ignoranza delle cose religiose e dalla grossolanità culturale dei loro estensori, per non dire della necessità di compiacere i superiori, di stare nei binari dell’ortodossia ideologica, di produrre dati sensibili anche quando non se ne trovano. In ogni caso, Fejérdy riesce a trattare questi materiali con avvertenza, al di là della loro langue de bois."
"András Fejérdy’s new book is a laudable attempt to write the history of the Hungarian mission to the Second Vatican Council. It is not an analysis of the influence of the Council on Hungarian Catholicism, but rather an analysis of the bishops who were sent to the council, torn between their Communist nation and the trans-national community of the Catholic clergy. Fejérdy identifies both the rise of Pope John XXIII and a shift in the ecclesiastical policy of the Communist party in Hungary as catalysts for Hungarian participation in the Council. He also correctly links the Council with larger Hungarian-Vatican negotiations on the internal administration and autonomy of the Church and the role of the Vatican in its operations. Overall this is a wonderful volume and great contribution to the existing scholarship."