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Greek Catholic Eparchy of Hajdudorog

Greek Catholic Eparchy of Hajdudorog — eparchy serving Byzantine-rite Christians in union with Rome living within the current boundaries of Hungary. The idea for the creation of the Hajdudorog Eparchy was connected with the increasing demands put forth by priests and the laity in the second half of the nineteenth century for the use of the Hungarian language in Greek Catholic parishes located for the most part in what is currently northeastern Hungary. This came to be known as the Hajdudorog Movement and was headed by the military officer Lajos Farkas (1821-1884). From the outset (1866), the Vatican made it clear that it forbade the use of the Hungarian language in the Divine Liturgy. In 1873 the Hungarian government created the Vicariate of Hajdudorog (33 parishes with nearly 50,000 faithful) for “Greek Catholic Hungarians” in the southwest corner of the *Eparchy of Mukachevo. The entire Byzantine-rite liturgy was translated into Hungarian (1879) and despite Vatican restrictions the language was used in homilies and in several parts of the Divine Liturgy. When, in 1896, this situation came to the attention of Rome, the pope issued a decree prohibiting the use of Hungarian liturgical books and ordering the clergy of the Hajdudorog Vicariate to restore Church Slavonic in the Divine Liturgy.

For the next 15 years pro-Hungarian Greek Catholic activists sent several petitions to the Vatican and participated in a large-scale pilgrimage to Rome (1900) calling for recognition of Hungarian as a legitimate liturgical language. When this tactic failed they proposed the creation of a separate Greek Catholic eparchy to encompass all parishes where Hungarian was spoken.

The leading activists behind this movement were the magyarized Rusyn banker and member of the upper house of the Hungarian Parliament, Jeno Szabo (1843-1921), and his son-in-law, Emil Melles (1857-19??), the priest at the Greek Catholic parish in Budapest, who, despite the Vatican’s restrictions, continued to celebrate the liturgy in Hungarian. To mobilize fellow assimilated Rusyns in support of their goals, Szabo and Melles established in 1898 the National Committee of Magyars of the Greek Catholic Faith/Gorogkatolikus szertartasu magyarok orszagos bizottsaga. In short, the drive to create a new Greek Catholic eparchy came from the Hajdudorog Movement and from priests (Emil Melles, Aladar Romanecz, and Andor Hodobay) and secular professionals living in Budapest (Jeno Szabo, Endre Rabar, Kalman Demko, Emil Demjanovics, Ignac Roskovics, and Jozsef *Illes) of Rusyn heritage who had assimilated to Hungarian culture and who wanted to promote Hungarian state patriotism and a Magyar national identity among the largest number of their co-religionists, regardless of whether they were of Rusyn or Magyar nationality. For its part, the Hungarian government’s support for a new eparchy was motivated by two concerns: (1) it was responding to the demands of Greek Catholic *Magyars and magyarized Rusyns who felt alienated from a church structure (the Eparchy of Mukachevo) headed by a different nationality (Rusyns); and (2) it was trying to strengthen the number of Magyars vis-a-vis other nationalities as part of its general magyarization policy throughout the kingdom.

While the Vatican upheld its 1896 decree and repeatedly rejected requests for recognition of Hungarian as a liturgical language, it eventually accepted the Hungarian government’s proposal (spearheaded by the lobbying efforts of Jeno Szabo and others) for the creation in June 1912 of the Eparchy of Hajdudorog. In contrast to the Hajdudorog vicariate created in 1873, the new eparchy was much larger, consisting of 162 parishes (70 from the Eparchy of Mukachevo, 8 from Presov, 44 from Oradea/Nagyvarad, and 4 from Gherla/Szamosujvar (see Map 6). To these were added another 35 parishes (mostly Hungarian-speaking Szekelys) from the Fararas/Fogaras Eparchy in southeastern Transylvania and the Greek Catholic parish in Hungary’s capital of Budapest. Of the 215,000 faithful in the Hajdudorog Eparchy, an estimated 87 percent were Hungarian-speaking (including magyarized Rusyns), 10 percent Romanian, and 3 percent “Slavic.” Included within the eparchy’s boundaries was the Basilian Monastery and popular pilgrimage site at *Mariapocs. The first bishop was Istvan Miklosy (1857-1937, consecrated 1913), who in 1914 made Nyiregyhaza the episcopal residence, which it remains to this day.

With regard to the controversial language question, Rome agreed that the new eparchy could be created, provided that Greek (the alleged original liturgical language of Eastern Christians in that part of Hungary) would be used in the liturgy. A papal decree required that the Hajdudorog clergy learn Greek within three years but this never happened: the Hungarian language was simply used in direct violation of the Vatican’s proscription against “living” languages (vernaculars). In the end, the Eparchy of Hajdudorog effectively became an instrument of magyarization within the remaining Rusyn villages located in *Borshod/Borsod county and in the southern parts of *Abov-Turna/Abauj-Torna and *Zemplyn/Zemplen countries.

After World War I the parishes that came under Romanian rule were returned to the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Oradea, so that Hajdudorog’s eparchial boundaries coincided with the new international borders of Hungary. Like the eparchies of Mukachevo and Presov, Hajdudorog is under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. It has approximately 279,000 faithful (1995) in 126 parishes located primarily in the northeastern part of Hungary as well as in its capital Budapest.

Bibliography: Jeno Szabo, A gorogkatolikus magyarsag utolso kalvaria utja, 1896-1912 (Budapest, 1913); Jeno Szabo and Emil Melles, eds., Emlekkonyv a gorog szertartasu magyarok romai zarandoklatarol (Budapest, 1901); Gyula Grigassy, A magyar gorog katolikusok legujabb tortenete (Uzhhorod, 1913); Cyril Korolevsky, Living Languages in Catholic Worship (London, New York, and Toronto, 1957), pp. 23-45; Gabriel Adrianyi, “Die Bestrebungen der ungarischen Katholiken des byzantinischen Ritus um eigene Liturgie und Kirchenorganisation um 1900,” Ostkirchliche Studien, XXI (Wurzburg, 1972), pp. 116-131; Imre Timko, ed., Jubileumi emlekkonyve, 1912-1987 (Nyiregyhaza, 1987); Istvan Pirigyi, A magyarorszagi gorogkatolikusok tortenete, 2 vols. (Nyiregyhaza, 1990); Istvan Pirigyi, A gorogkatolikus magyarsag tortenete (Budapest, 1991); James Niessen, “Hungarians and Romanians in Habsburg and Vatican Diplomacy: The Creation of the Diocese of Hajdudorog in 1912,” The Catholic Historical Review, LXXX, 2 (Washington, D.C., 1994), pp. 238-257; Maria Mayer, The Rusyns of Hungary: Political and Social Developments, 1860-1910 (New York, 1997), pp. 153-189.

Paul Robert Magocsi

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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