Hungarians and Slovaks reconcile 1000 years of conflict

At the launch in Esztergom, Hungary, of a "Year of Reconciliation" for national spiritual renewal, Hungarian bishops celebrated a mass with their Slovak counterparts to forgive and ask for forgiveness for each other's nation.

Seeking to put aside centuries of tension and conflict, the Hungarian and Slovak Bishops conferences also exchanged letters, Magyar Kurir reports.

"This is a historical occasion for us to be able to turn towards the Slovak Conference of Catholic Bishops, the whole Catholic Community of Slovakia and the Slovak people with the greatest respect and fraternal love. Over a thousand years of common history binds us together. This history was filled with valuable results such as the expansion of Christianity, solidification of Christian life and the foundation of culture through Christianity", Hungarian bishops wrote.

The bishops said that that the history between Hungarians and Slovaks was "a history of common struggles and sufferings" which left "a scar on our souls."

"Now, when we stand before the face of Christ, examine our conscience and pray for our spiritual renewal, we ask for God's mercy and forgiveness for all of those shameful deeds done against those peoples throughout history, living in this region due to their ethnic, national, lingual or cultural identity," said the bishops.

"It is with great sadness with which we remember those instances when Hungarian people caused great pain for the people and communities of Slovak origin. At the same time, we renew in the face of God, the sentiment of reconciliation and deep respect, the very same sentiment of love and forgiveness, which our people needed to experience in the past, due to personal or communal suffering. We forgive and ask for forgiveness," the letter, signed by Cardinal Péter Erdo, concluded.

In a spirit of "purification of memory", the Slovak Bishops Conference "joyfully" acknowledged the Hungarian initiative. "With solemn realism we accept the historical truths as they are, and express our thanksgiving to God and ask for common understanding and reparation. Thus, we forgive and we ask for forgiveness. (...) May the Lord bless our efforts, so that they enjoy a wide public acceptance," the Slovak Bishops letter continued.

In his homily, Bishop Frantisek Tondra, president of the Slovak Bishops' Conference said, "Catholics of this two neighbouring countries confess, that we are one in Christ. We are one Church. In front of this unity everything, that could divide us, has to back down. We want to forget the negatives of our past and use all the positives for our mutual enrichment in spiritual and cultural life."

We forgive and we ask for forgiveness (Magyar Kurir 29/6/06)
Letter of Hungarian Bishops' Conference to Slovakian bishops (Magyar Kurir 29/6/06)
Letter of the Slovakian Bishops' Conference to Hungarian bishops
(Magyar Kurir 29/6/06)

Letter of Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State, Holy See (29/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
A tale of two dams (Courrier, UNESCO October 2001)
Fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Slovakia.org)
The First Vienna Award (Wikipedia)

30 Jun 2006