Author: Nóda, Mózes
Date published: December 1, 2010
Journal code: STRD
The Concordat signed in 1927 was and still is a fundamental document regulating the diplomatic relations and the religious matters between the Holy See and Romania. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Vatican and the Romanian Monarchy were equally interested in concluding the Concordat. As a juridical document, it gained actuality after 1989, when the Holy See was allowed to appoint new bishops for the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches. Moreover, the results achieved at the conclusion of the Concordat, as well as the dialogue preceding it could be reiterated as the Holy See attempted to establish a new relation with the Orthodox Church.
The objective assessment of a historical epoch or event is never an easy task and sometimes it is outright impossible. Not even a historian can fully rise above the limitations inherent to contemporary perspectives and views. For this reason, a historian exploring long past events has to take every source seriously. Ideally, a historian must put together the mosaic-like pieces of the events without emotions.
The concordat between the Holy See and Romania is a legal document accessible to anyone wishing to read it. The purpose of this paper is therefore not to analyze or explain its text. The aim of this investigation is first, to track the events preceding the conclusion of the document, based on ecclesiastical and historical sources, and second, to follow the changes brought about by the Concordat in the Hungarian dioceses of the Latin rite. The concordat has been widely researched by both Hungarian and Romanian scholars; a great number of doctoral theses, books and articles have been issued on this topic. Occasionally, these studies still draw contradictory conclusions. Archives still hold a considerable amount of information that may shed light on a number of issues. The interest of this analysis is mainly to reveal the opposing ecclesiastical and political forces and interests behind the concordat, as well as the manner in which the text of the concordat was formulated after a number of painful compromises.
A concordat is a pact, a bilateral international agreement between the Vatican and another state, aiming at solving the problems that both parties are interested in. The oldest concordat, the Pactum Callixtinum, was concluded between pope Callixtus II and the German Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 in Worms.1 Concordats are generally issued when a crisis or a new situation arises in the relation between the church and the state. The church-state relation would have been ideal if no concordat had been necessary. By concluding a concordat, the Catholic Church always aimed at ensuring the free proclamation of the gospel, freedom of education and schools, the functioning of its institutions and an unrestricted management of church property in the country in question.
The 19th century is the era of concordats.2 Latin American concordats are particularly important as they implied the very recognition of these states. The 19th century was of special interest for Romania as well because with the creation of the Romanian state, the Catholic communities found themselves in a new situation.
In January 1859, Moldavia and then, in a few weeks' time, Muntenia elected Al. I. Cuza as their Prince. By this unanimous election, the two principalities merged de facto. As early as the reign of Al. I. Cuza, attempts were made to initiate diplomatic relations and to conclude a concordat with the Vatican.3 The prince realized its political benefits and met the support of Mihail Kogalniceanu.4 In 1860, the Prince authorized Costache Negri to start negotiations. The first attempts had little success. Eventually, in 1864, the request addressed to Pius IX was answered and the Holy See ordered that the negotiations should begin. Bishops Giuseppe Salandari5 of Iasi and Antoine-Joseph Pluym6 of Bucharest were appointed by the Catholic Church as its representatives. The objections raised by Russia and Turkey as well as the actions taken by the Romanian Liberal government made the Vatican cautious and the negotiations were suspended.7 Under King Carol I, the negotiations were resumed. Some of the important points of the consultations concerned the creation of an archdiocese in Bucharest and the establishment of seminaries. The bishop was to be appointed by the Pope, but the King had to be consulted about the nomination of the bishop. The bishop was to pursue his task and the nomination of the priests unhindered. Seminaries were to be set up in Bucharest and Iasi and had to be funded by the state. The negotiations progressed rather slowly. The Holy See was mistrustful of the King who, although Catholic, had his children educated in the Orthodox religion, a matter stipulated by the Romanian constitution.8 In addition, the King had already benefited from dispensation from the Vatican for his marriage with Queen Elizabeth, herself a Protestant.9
Eventually, the attempts to sign the concordat failed. However, the Catholics were not entirely unsuccessful in the Principality. In 1883, the Vicarage of Bucharest acquired the rank of Archdiocese and an independent diocese was set up in Iasi, Moldavia, in 1884. The historical changes at the beginning of the 20th century created favourable circumstances for concluding a concordat and after lengthy negotiations, in 1927, it was eventually concluded.
The Situation of the Catholic Church in Romania after 1918
The Treaty of Trianon signed on June 4, 1920 changed the fate of the Catholic dioceses in Romania. Basarabia, Bucovina, Transylvania, the Banat and a part of Eastern Hungary became part of Romania, which also meant that the Greek Catholic archdiocese of Alba Iulia-Fagaras came under Romanian jurisdiction.
The situation of the Latin Catholic dioceses changed as well. The Transylvanian diocese having 375,000 members was integrated into Romania. The diocese of Csanád was divided into three parts: Timisoara, the Episcopal See with its 160 parishes and 452,000 members was on Romanian territory; 62 parishes with 240,000 believers were handed to Yugoslavia, whereas 33 parishes with 200,000 believers remained a part of Hungary. The diocese of Szatmár was divided into three parts as well: 44 parishes, the Episcopal See and 72,000 believers came to Romania, 44 parishes with 75,000 Christians to Czechoslovakia, and 14 parishes with 13,000 members remained in Hungary. The new border also cut the diocese of Nagyvárad (Oradea) in two: the Episcopal See with nearly 80,000 believers came under Romanian jurisdiction, whereas the more numerous parishes with 100,000 believers remained in Hungary.
The Catholics from Bucovina, who had been under the Lvov archdiocese formerly, were attached to the diocese of Iasi, just like the Basarabian parishes, which had been formerly under the diocese of Tiraspol.10
After the Treaty of Trianon, Romania also faced a new situation: the composition of its population changed both from a national and a religious point of view; the (Latin and Greek) Catholic population increased by 13-14%.
A new legal framework had to be created to control and regulate the life of the state. Some of the most important laws are the 1919-1921 agrarian laws, the 1923 Constitution, the 1923-25 laws on education, the 1927 Concordat, the 1928 law on religious practice, and the new Constitution in 1938.
The life of the Catholic dioceses was made especially difficult by the agrarian law, the laws on education and religious practice, which created new frameworks and new problems.
This was the historical background at the beginning of the negotiations between the Vatican and Romania. In 1919, the diplomatic relations started; Dimitrie C. Pennescu, Romania's Ambassador to the Holy See, presented his credentials in the Vatican. Both parties were interested in regulating the church-state relations, all the more because after the Treaty of Trianon, a great number of Greek and Latin Catholics became Romanian citizens.
The negotiations started in 1920 and were concluded on 10 May, 1927, when State Secretary Cardinal Pietro Gasparri and Minister Vasile Goldis signed the document in Rome. The Concordat was ratified on 29 May, 1929 and was valid up to July 17, 1948, when the Communist government renounced it unilaterally. Two years later, on 7 July, 1950, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs broke diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
The Drafts of the Concordat
In 1920, Archbishop Francesco Marmaggi, the first Nuncio, arrived in Romania.11 The archbishop of Bucharest, Raymund Netzhammer, observed in his diary that, ignorant of the situation or perhaps due to some false information, the Nuncio hoped that the Orthodox believers would convert to Catholicism if the Greek Catholic Church were strengthened: "You'll see what happens when one day ten million Romanians shall accept the authority of the Pope."12 On behalf of the Church, the Concordat was initiated and upheld by Radu Demetriu, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Oradea.13 On the other hand, when being attacked in public for signing the concordat, Vasile Goldis said it was Octavian Goga who started negotiations with the Holy See.14
The first draft of the concordat made up by the government was taken to Rome by the Greek Catholic priest and politician Vasile Lucaciu at the beginning of 1920 where he handed it to the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. No bishop of the Latin rite contributed to the drafting of the document.15 The draft had thirty paragraphs. It stipulated the free practice of the Catholic religion and the equal treatment with all other religions in Romania. It guaranteed free communication with the Holy See; however, bishops had to take the oath of allegiance to the Romanian state. The church had the right to run a seminary to train priests and and to settle religious orders if the Roman Catholic Church had accepted and approved them.
The shortcomings of the draft were mainly connected to the (re)structuring of the archdioceses of the Greek and Latin rite, as stipulated in the second paragraph, and they seriously affected the Roman Catholic dioceses. The Greek Catholic archdiocese of Blaj had Lugoj, Oradea and Gherla as suffragan dioceses, and the see of Gherla was Cluj. New dioceses were to be founded at Baia Mare and Bucharest. The suffragan dioceses of the Latin archdiocese of Bucharest were the dioceses of Iasi, Alba Iulia and Csanád (Timisoara). The most serious demand of the government regarded the dissolution of the Roman Catholic dioceses of Oradea and Satu Mare. According to the plans, the diocese of Oradea had to be integrated into that of Timisoara, while that of Satu Mare had to be incorporated into the diocese of Transylvania, and finally both were to be subordinated to the archdiocese of Bucharest.16
The Transylvanian Roman Catholic bishops were briefed on the draft of the concordat through the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prince Primate János Csernoch of Esztergom requested that the negotiations should be postponed. The bishop of Alba Iulia, Gusztáv Károly Mailáth, went to Rome, and Gyula Glattfelder, Bishop of Csanád, wrote a memorandum demanding the revision of the draft.
The second draft
The second draft was the fruit of Vasile Lucaciu's negotiations in Rome. It was presented to Bucharest, to Nuntio Marmaggi, by a delegation led by Radu Demetriu, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Oradea, on December 7, 1920. The second draft was more extensive than the first; its 35 paragraphs summarized the government's expectations regarding the concordat.
The novelty lies in Paragraph 2, which drafts the new church hierarchy for both the Latin and the Greek rite:
"In the Kingdom of Romania, the Catholic hierarchy shall be organized as follows:
For the Eastern Catholics:
1. The Fagaras archdiocese: the see of the Fagaras archdiocese is Bucharest, its suffragans are: the Lugoj diocese (for Banat) and the Suceava diocese (for Bucovina).
2. The Blaj archdiocese with its see in Blaj. Suffragan dioceses: the dioceses of Oradea and Gherla.
For the Latin Catholics:
1. The Bucharest archdiocese: the territory of Muntenia and Dobrogea; the Iasi diocese for Moldavia and Basarabia, and the Cernauti diocese for Bucovina.
2. Dioceses directly subordinated to the Holy See: a. the unified diocese of Transylvania-Satu Mare; b. the diocese of Timisoara-Oradea."17
The deficiency of the draft consisted partly in the neglect of other rites. After 1918, the Latin and Greek were not the only rites in Romania: there was a Ruthenian community of 50,000 souls of the Ancient Slavonic rite, and 2500 Armenian Catholics. In addition, there were nearly 80,000 Hungarian speaking Greek Catholics.
The bishops of the Latin rite counselled upon the draft of the concordat on February 10, 1921, at the meeting of the Episcopal conference. The Bishop of Oradea, Miklós Széchenyi, was deeply disappointed by the draft that stipulated the disbanding of his diocese as well as the dissolution of the diocese of Satu Mare. "The Church of Saint László and the diocese of Satu Mare are going to be dismantled. The time has come for the Hungarian bishops' conference to stop speaking in the muffled voice of submission, to speak up and pour out their hurt pride openly to the Holy See, warning it about the consequences of the policy followed so far. We should not accept any reorganization of the dioceses. We should maintain all our existing dioceses, no matter how small they have become, with the determination we had in the times of the Turkish conquest."18
In 1922, a Liberal government led by I. C. Bratianu came to power. The Minister of Religious Affairs, Constantin Banu, was sent to Rome to continue the negotiations that had halted. There was a considerable difference between the views of the Holy See and those of the Romanian state with respect to the nomination of bishops, the future of the Satu Mare and Oradea dioceses and the Patrimonium Sacrum. The government demanded the merger of the assets of the Greek and Latin churches under the supervision of a board of Latin and Greek bishops. The Latin dioceses and especially the Transylvanian diocese of the Latin rite disapproved the outlook that a common Patrimonium Sacrum was to incorporate and to be largely made up of the assets of the Roman Catholic Status, an organization of the Transylvanian Roman Catholic Church, an organization of the Transylvanian Roman Catholic Church in charge with administering the ecclesial, social and educational funds of the diocese. The standpoint of the Latin bishops was formulated by Gyula Glattfelder, who forwarded them to Nuncio Francesco Marmaggi in Bucharest. In a personal letter to the Transylvanian Bishop, Gusztáv Károly Mailáth Glattfelder informed him that he was only waiting for the Nuncio's notice and he was ready to start to Rome. Moreover, he also briefed Prince Primate of Esztergom Jusztinián Serédi noting: "I have written to Serédi asking him to get more information; and should he notify me, I'm ready to start before the Nuncio's message."19
A memorandum was also sent to State Secretary Cardinal Pietro Gasparri by the bishops of the four Latin, Hungarian speaking dioceses. They notified him that the bishop of Veszprém, Nándor Roth, had delivered them his letter with the draft of the concordat. This memorandum was to be seen as their response, containing their observations. Moreover, they requested that the bishop of Csanád, Gyula Glattfelder, should be given the opportunity to present their reservations and proposals personally in Rome.
Their objections were the following: the common Latin and Greek hierarchy would have resulted in Latin bishops becoming a minority; the legal entity of the Catholic Status had to be recognized because it financially supported the Catholic schools and social institutions; neither was the concept of the common Patrimonium Sacrum acceptable; they could not renounce their ancient assets. An especially serious problem was that the Holy See planed to accept the disbanding of the Oradea and Satu Mare dioceses: "although the aeque principalis20 union means a certain appeasement for the canon lawyer, the large masses of believers will only see that instead of the four Latin dioceses only two are left in an area of more than 100,000 km2."21
The situation of schools was also unclear and, therefore, criticized by the bishops. They asked Rome to request the stipulation of state financial support for schools in the concordat: "the Catholics should receive financial support from the state for opening and sustaining schools, proportionally to their number and to the state taxes they pay, as the Trianon Treaty explicitly ensures them this right, and we shall by no means renounce this right."22 The religious orders were expected to maintain the free ownership of their assets. The bishops equivocally considered and requested that the oath of allegiance to the State should not be stipulated by the concordat.
The document was signed by Gusztáv Károly Mailáth, bishop of Transylvania, Miklós Széchenyi, bishop of Oradea, Tibor Boromissza, bishop of Satu Mare and Gyula Glattfelder, bishop of Csanád (all of Catholic rite). As a consequence, bishop Gyula Glattfelder was excluded from the negotiations; in 1923, he had to move over to the Hungarian part of his diocese, as he was declared persona non grata.
Two more drafts of the concordat were formulated, one by the Roman Catholic bishops23, and the other by the lay Transylvanian faithful24. Retrospectively, knowing the circumstances, these seem hopeless endeavours as they aimed at maintaining the hierarchy prior to 1918. Nevertheless, their legal preciseness deserves recognition, as they minded the stipulations of the Canon Law. Another important aspect, especially in the draft of the Catholic bishops, is the attempt to regulate the legal situation and the pastoral care of the divided dioceses of Csanád, Oradea and Satu Mare.
The special situation of the Satu Mare diocese is to be presented as an example. Following the Treaty of Trianon, 80,000 Hungarian Greek Catholics came to Romania. Previously, they belonged to the Hajdúdorog Diocese but as a consequence of the political changes, they were left without a bishop. The bishops of the Latin rite suggested a vicarage should be set up in Romania. The Greek Catholic bishop of Hajdúdorog, István Miklósy, in his letter addressed to the Hungarian Minister of Religious Affairs (2025/1922), also forwarded to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Miklós Bánffy, asked for help in solving the situation. The Holy See acknowledged the existence of the Greek Catholic Hungarians and, on July 8, 1912, by the bull Christi fideles graeci, they set up a diocese for them, with Hajdúdorog as the see. Bishop Miklósy formulated the following requests: 1. The Hungarian Greek Catholics living in Romania were to keep their schools and, if needed, be entitled to open new ones; 2. They were to be permitted to use Hungarian in their churches, as allowed by the Holy See; 3. They were to be allowed to use the Gregorian Calendar instead of the Julian Calendar.25
These matters remained unsettled as the bishop's requests were not taken into consideration: the Hungarian Greek Catholic parishes were attached to the Greek Catholic diocese of Baia Mare, which was to be set up. The Ruthenians were better off: the 1927 concordat promised them a separate diocese.26
Debates, Interests and Fears
The representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Transylvania, felt that they were deprived of their rights and the very existence of their Church was threatened. Up to the present day, many Transylvanian Catholics consider that the interests of their Church were sacrificed for the sake of the concordat. In this respect, the negative reactions to the draft of the concordat are understandable. The lengthy negotiations increased the doubts about the winners and losers of this game. Roman Catholics had to learn to forget their hurt feelings and find a way of survival in the new situation.
The negotiations were mainly led by the Greek Catholics. The Greek Catholic Church understood the importance and advantages of the concordat, and realized that the new situation necessitated a new hierarchy. The importance of the Greek Catholic Church was increased by the pact to be signed. The Greek Catholics gained the opportunity to regularize their situation according to state and canon law. Therefore, the new dioceses to be founded only brought advantages. Naturally, the Orthodox religion remained the majority and the state religion, but not the sole religion.
The situation began to change for the Orthodox Church as well because it was confronted with new challenges. The Orthodox Church, the church of the majority, felt that the concordat would endanger its own existence. The international influence of Rome stirred fear in the Orthodox clergy and in the believers. The Orthodox Church did everything to use its power and possibilities in the campaign against the concordat. The seminary students' association organized meetings in the capital and in university centres. Newspapers debated on the pros and cons of the concordat. This only strengthened the point made by the Greek Catholic Church in Rome, with respect to the difficulties they were facing in an Orthodox majority environment.27 There is another undeniable factor: Rome secretly hoped that with the strengthening of the Greek Catholic Church, many Orthodox believers would convert to the Catholic faith.
During the 20th century, papacy was an influential political factor as well; therefore, it was in the interest of Romania to have good diplomatic connections with the Vatican. Ironically, politicians rather than church officials recognized the importance and benefit of these connections. Consequently, the Romanian governments never ceased to work to finish the job started.
A national factor stirred debates as well: the Greek Catholics often had to prove they were good Romanians. The Hungarian Catholics were not happy about the concordat and their fears proved founded: the dioceses of Oradea and Satu Mare were disbanded and the number of the Greek Catholic bishops rose above the number of Roman Catholic ones. The latter were subordinated to Bucharest, which again caused discontent, although according to Canon Law, the power of the archbishop over the suffragans was not that important. The Latin Catholics' dissatisfaction was well-founded as the Bucharest diocese was the youngest one and it had the fewest members. In fact, according to public opinion, it would have been better to have no concordat at all.
Due to these circumstances Nuncio Angelo Maria Dolci28 had to take over the negotiations. For the sake of the functioning of the denominational schools, he accepted many paragraphs of the Romanian government's concordat draft. As a representative of the Holy See, the Nuncio requested guarantees for the Catholic believers.
The decision of the Vatican to hand over the church and monastery of the minorites in Cluj to the Greek Catholics in 1924 was appreciated as a positive step. As a result of the Nuncio's organizing crusade, the friars were moved to the TÎrgu Mures convent, and the Cluj convent and church was offered to the Pope, who handed it over to the perpetual use of the Greek Catholics. For the success of the negotiations, the Calvary Church in Cluj was given to the Greek Catholics for a period of 25 years, that is, up to 1949. All these steps stirred the protests of the Hungarian Roman Catholics and the leaders of the Catholic Status. In 1898, the Roman Catholic Status renovated the church, which had been in ruins previously, and planned to set up a parish around it.29
It was also during the negotiations that the archbishop of Bucharest, Raymund Albin Netzhammer, had to resign. In his letter dated July 3, 1924, on Rome's instructions, he signed his resignation. Netzhammer was forced to resign because he had been against subordinating all the Latin rite dioceses to the Bucharest Archdiocese and he had defended the interests of the Latin rite dioceses.30 He was succeeded by the bishop of Iasi, Alexandru Cisar.
The Transylvanian bishop, Gusztáv Károly Mailáth, wrote a letter to Pope Pius XI and State Secretary Pietro Gasparri.31 Everybody felt concessions should be made. Bishop Mailáth said he would accept the subordination of the Transylvanian Diocese to the archdiocese of Bucharest, on condition that the four dioceses (Transylvania, Timisoara, Oradea and Satu Mare) could be maintained.32 The Nuncio invited the bishops to Bucharest to debate the proposal. They studied the text together and attempts were made to include their suggestions.
There were disagreements that obstructed the negotiations between Nuncio Angelo Maria Dolci and the Bucharest government. The principal difficulties could not be surmounted: little or no progress was made regarding the merger of the Oradea and the Satu Mare dioceses and the case of the Patrimonium Sacrum. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs also made some steps in the Vatican. He briefed the Hungarian Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs, Count Kunó Klebelsberg, in his top secret letter as follows: "The Hungarian Ambassador in the Vatican obtained confidential information regarding the negotiations between the Holy See and the Romanian government on the concordat. Namely, we managed to get the original draft of the concordat and the text of the proposed modifications, which I forwarded to Bishop Mailáth immediately so he could at least attempt to get his suggestions accepted by the Curia. Regarding the known paragraphs of the Concordat, our ambassador will try to obtain from the Holy See the following: 1. The Ruthenian and Armenian vicarages will be subordinated to a Latin bishop; 2. The parishes of the Hajdudorog Diocese that became part of Romania will be grouped into a separate diocese or at least a vicarage subordinated to a Latin bishop; 3. The former dioceses of the Latin rite will be grouped into a separate archdiocese. Finally, we asked the Holy See that the ancient, historic name of the Transylvanian Diocese should be preserved."33 The letter criticizes further paragraphs of the concordat draft: Romanian citizenship should not be a condition for the appointment of a bishop, the Patrimonium Sacrum should not be the common property of the Latin and the Greek dioceses, and denominational schools should be given more autonomy.
Meanwhile, Dimitrie Pennescu, the Romanian Ambassador to the Vatican, continued the negotiations with the Nuncio. However, the negotiations soon halted.
The Conclusion of the Concordat
On March 31, 1926 the Averescu government appointed Vasile Goldis as Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs. On April 25, 1927 he arrived in Rome with a royal authorization to start negotiations and, if possible, to conclude the Concordat.34 His job was to defend the results achieved by the former government and fulfil the expectations of the Orthodox Church. According to the Romanian Constitution, the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches were national churches and the Orthodox Church was the majority church. The plan was that a separate law would regulate the situation of the Orthodox Church later; as for the other churches, another law was expected to regulate the church-state relation. The conclusion of the concordat was expected to precede the law on religious matters, which had not been voted yet.
The negotiations were resumed on April 27, 1927 with the participation of State Secretary Cardinal Pietro Gasparri as a representative of the Holy See, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vasile Goldis, the Romanian Ambassador to the Vatican, Dimitrie Pennescu, and Counselor Barbu Constantinescu as Romanian representatives.35 Right after the first negotiations, the Holy See accepted V. Goldis's arguments and request that the concordat should be sent to the Parliament to be ratified only after or in parallel with the issuing of the Act on Religion.
The negotiations progressed gradually; the only problems were the expectations of the Liberal Government and - resulting from the first draft of the concordat - the bishops' oath of allegiance. Eventually, a compromise was made: the text of the oath of allegiance was written in French, the Greek Catholic bishops were supposed to say it in Romanian, and those of the Latin rite in Latin. The original plan, that priests should also take an oath of allegiance, was abandoned. A compromise was reached regarding the dioceses as well. Two archdioceses were envisaged: a Greek Catholic one with its see in Blaj, and another one for the Latin Catholics with its see in Bucharest. The sees of the four Greek Catholic dioceses (Oradea, Lugoj and Gherla, along with a fourth one to be founded somewhere in the north) were to be assigned later on, with common assent. For the moment, the assets of the Patrimonium Sacrum were the treasury bills that were given to the churches for their expropriated land on the basis of the Act on Agriculture, the rest of the assets being at the disposal of the dioceses. The Latin Catholic Church won the continuation of the episcopal jurisdiction over the schools of the religious orders and the teaching language was supposed to be determined by the bishop. This was a good solution for the minorities because, according to the Act on Education, the schools of the religious orders were not considered denominational schools.
On May 10, 1927 the concordat was signed without any ceremony. The State Secretary, Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, signed for Pope Pius XI and the Minister of Religious Affairs, Vasile Goldis, signed in the name of King Ferdinand I.36
The Fate of the Concordat
From an objective viewpoint, the Latin churches could not have achieved more at the time. Both Romanian and Hungarian newspapers were critical and often overly pessimistic, foreseeing national tragedies when commenting on the negotiations and the concordat. Several books and articles were issued, inciting public opinion against the concordat.37
The Orthodox Church deemed that the concordat was fatal for the Romanian nation and culture. The overstatements of the Hungarian newspapers stirred distrust in the Hungarians toward the Holy See. However, the Holy See was supposed to protect the Romanian, Armenian and Ruthenian Catholics as well, not just the Hungarian Catholics, therefore no part could have any advantage.38
The concordat was not presented to the Parliament for ratification. On July 28, 1928, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolae Titulescu formulated and forwarded to Nuncio Angelo Dolci the requests of the government that still had to be dealt with.
1. Chapter IX of the concordat was expected to be modified. The original text read: "In accordance with the Romanian Common Law, the State recognizes the juridical personality of the Catholic Church, represented by its legitimate hierarchical authorities. Consequently, parishes, archdeaconates, monasteries, chapters, provostships, abbeys, dioceses, archdioceses and the rest of the canonically and legally founded authorities are legal entities and, in accordance with the Constitution of Romania, the state guarantees the ownership of all their properties of any kind for the Catholic Church represented by its legal hierarchic authorities."39 The proposed text to be inserted should have read: "Outside the authorities mentioned in chapter IX, no other authorities are legal entities and cannot own any kind of asset." This petition made the legal situation of the Roman Catholic Status unsure.
2. The second demand referred to Paragraph 3, Chapter XIX: "All schools of the religious orders and congregations are subordinated to the competent bishop, and in this measure, they also have the right to decide upon the teaching language."40 The proposal suggests an amendment: "that is, outside the schools where the teaching language is already Romanian." This was a rightful demand, proved by the fact that the concordat revoked Paragraph 37 of the 1925 Act on Private Education, which ordered Romanian to be used in the convent schools.
3. The third demand referred to Chapter XX of the Concordat, namely paragraphs 3 and 4. According to paragraph 3: "In state schools with a majority of Catholic students, religious education shall be performed by a priest assigned by the bishop or, if no priest is available, a Catholic layperson, who may be the teacher of that school, if the bishop deems the person suitable."41 According to paragraph 4: "If the bishop should inform the Ministry that the teacher of religion is not suitable due to religious or moral reasons, the teacher is obliged to give up teaching immediately. His successor shall be nominated in accordance with §§ 2 and 3 above."42 The government demanded that 'teacher' should be understood explicitly as 'teacher of religion', 'education' should be explained as 'religious education'. The bishop may appoint a new teacher of religion at his own expense, but the position only refers to religious education. If the teacher taught other subjects than religion, he may go on teaching these and may keep his employment in education. Another expectation was that schoolbooks be approved by the bishop, who would have the right to supervise education in schools.43
These modifications were important for the representatives of Romanian government because they hoped they could get the Concordat ratified more easily. Rome accepted the modifications hoping that they would fasten and enhance ratification. On October 22, 1928, Nuncio Angelo Dolci answered in positive terms to the demands expressed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, C. Argentoianu.44
According to the additional chapter to part 24 of the concordat, no later than two months following the ratification, a common church and state board would draw the borders of the dioceses and determine the assets of the Patrimonium Sacrum.
In spite of the concessions and additional clauses, the concordat was put forward to the Senate for voting and ratification only in May 1929.
The Concordat was unsuccessful during its time particularly in its regulations concerning the ecclesiastical estate. The patrimony of the Roman Catholic Status was handled in an unfortunate manner. However, after 1989, the Roman Catholic Church has regarded the Concordat and the subsequent Agreement (Acord) as a legal basis that would allow the retrieval of its properties.
The Concordat: pros and cons
One of the successful outcomes of the concordat was that it ensured free contact between the bishops and the believers, and the Holy See respectively. It drew the new borders of the dioceses, which was highly imperative in the new situation. It acknowledged the public character of the minority Catholic schools according to the stipulations of the laws. Accordingly, the Catholic Church was allowed to provide religious education to students in any public school. Soldiers and hospitalized patients benefited from pastoral care. Orphanages, penitentiaries and prisons had the same rights. The teaching language in convent schools was to be decided by the bishop.45
From the Latin Catholics' point of view, perhaps the weakest point of the concordat concerned the Patrimonium Sacrum. The Patrimonium Sacrum was made up of the state shares received by the Churches that were supposed to be managed by the episcopal conference. Church authorities and employees were supposed to receive their salaries and subsidies from this fund. However, article 38 of the Act on Religion terminated the institution of patronage46, be it state or private. Accordingly, if the assets belonged to the patron, they were returned to the patron's property, and if they belonged to the state, the state would freely dispose of them. Unfortunately, the fears of the Alba Iulia bishop and of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Status proved well founded: the amendment made to paragraph IX of the Concordat, which lists the legal entities with ownership rights and does not include the Roman Catholic Status as a legal entity, was used to seize the Status property in the following years.
Dissatisfaction was also bred by the fact that the concordat did not ensure Senate membership to all Latin rite Catholic bishops. Paragraph 75 of the 1923 Constitution provided the membership of all Orthodox and Greek Catholic bishops for the Senate. Other denominations could have only one representative in the Senate. The Concordat declares that the Bucharest Archbishop shall be the representative of the Catholic Church. That was the reasoning that Vasile Goldis used in his personal letter to Bishop Mailáth.47
The concordat merged the Latin rite dioceses into a single Archdiocese with its see in Bucharest. Dissatisfaction was also caused by the fact that instead of the 900-year-old Transylvanian Diocese with 375,000 believers, the concordat made the Bucharest archdiocese, founded in 1873, and having only 70,000 believers, the archdiocese of the Romanian Roman Catholic Church.
The 22 March 1932 decree of the Holy See regulating the borders of the dioceses changed the name of the Transylvanian Diocese into that of the Diocese of Alba Iulia, and that of the Csanád Diocese into the Diocese of Timisoara.
The pride of the Latin Catholics was also hurt by the fact that the concordat merged the two Latin dioceses of Oradea and Satu Mare. Previously, nearly 70,000 believers belonged to each. They did not resent the rights given to the Armenian Catholics, but were glad the Armenians' old dream had come true. Nevertheless, it seemed unjust to set up an apostolic Vicariate for 2000-2500 believers with its see in Gherla, while the two old dioceses were merged under the jurisdiction of a single bishop.
The ratification of the concordat was not easy for the Romanian government either. This fact is proved by the meetings and interpellations in the Senate. Both the representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Hungarian speaking Catholic members of the Parliament complained about the shortcomings of the concordat. They evoked religious reasons fearing for the future of their nations. Both parts thought the concessions of the government and of the Holy See would hurt their respective nation and religion. Senator Elemér Gyárfás, Vicepresident of the Transylvanian Popular League and directorial board member of the Transylvanian Roman Catholic Status, presented his arguments in his Senate speech on May 23, 1929. Citing Vasile Goldis, he showed that the Concordat did not give the Catholic Church in Romania anything it had not had before. The grievances regarded the merger of the Greek and the Latin dioceses under a common episcopal conference, the superiority of the Bucharest archdiocese, the dismantling of the Oradea Diocese, the withdrawal of the bishops' right to be members of the Senate, the school problem, the teaching language and the disagreements concerning the legal entities of the Catholic Church. In addition, the right for the settling of the religious orders depended on the decision of the government. However, his loyalty to the Church and Rome deserves recognition: "I am a loyal son of the Catholic Church, just as the Transylvanian-Hungarian Catholics are the loyal children of the Holy See".48
On May 25, 1929 the Concordat was voted by the Senate and on May 29 by the House of Representatives. Subsequently, the law enacting the Concordat was issued.49 The concordat became valid after being enacted, and the ratifying documents were exchanged on July 7, 1929. The content and results had several problematic aspects. These were criticized right from the beginning by the representatives of the churches and by politicians. However, its importance and value is considerable: in a new situation, in a new historical epoch, it had to provide the legal framework for the life of the Catholic Church and its institutions.
The research carried out on the Concordat of 1927 is of constant interest, since there is still room for clarifying many misunderstandings. Misapprehensions and misconstruals produced a great number of writings that influenced public opinion in a negative manner, and still create animosities. As a legal frame, the Concordat constituted a point of reference for both the Church and the State. The document, drafted after long and painstaking discussions, as well as the sources dealing with it (accessible in the archives of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia for example, and in the archives of the Vatican) have brought to light much information that can contribute to the understanding and clarification of the events of the time. After 1989, the Greek Catholic Dioceses stipulated in the Concordat have been re-established, and new bishops have been appointed for the Greek and Latin dioceses. In spite of the fact that the Concordat was unilaterally denounced in 1948, the diplomatic relations, broken in 1950, could be re-established, and a Nuncio was appointed again. The conclusion of the Concordat underlined the ability for compromise and was a sign of political and diplomatic wisdom in the relations between the Church and the State. Such ability and wisdom are as topical and as important as ever for the settlement of the Church-State relation.
1 Adriányi Gábor, Az egyháztörténet kézikönyve (München, 1975), 122-124.
2 By the 18th century, six concordats were signed; another fifteen were concluded in the 18th century and thirty in the 19th century. The most important concordats of the 20th century are those between the Vatican and Serbia, Bavaria, Poland, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Portugal, Italy, Romania and Prussia. Katolikus Lexikon. III. Ed. Bangha Béla, (Budapest, 1932), 103.
3 Ofelia Milos, Romania si Sfântul Scaun În a doua jumatate a secolului al XIX-lea (PhD thesis), (Cluj-Napoca, 2008), 47-50.
4 An influential Romanian politician, prime minister from 1863, later minister of foreign, and subsequently, of internal affairs.
5 The Italian Giuseppe (Iosif) Salandari OFMConv (1822-1864), the titular bishop of Marcopolis, was apostolic visitor for Moldavia (Annuario Pontificio, Roma, 1866, 249, 271). In some sources his name is spelled Salandri.
6 The Dutch Passionist Antoine-Joseph (Antonio Giuseppe, Anton Iosif) Pluym (1808-1874), bishop of Nicopolis, titular bishop of Tyana, was apostolic administrator of Valachia (Annuario Pontificio, Roma, 1867, 272; La gerarchia Cattolica e la Famiglia Pontificia, Roma, 1872, 239-240).
7 Milos, 50.
8 On the diplomatic difficulties caused by the decision of Charles to pledge the oath of loyalty to the Constitution, with its recent amendments stipulating that the Prince had to baptise his children in the Orthodox Church, against Catholic Canon Law regulations, see the exchange of letters between bishop Pluym and Card. A. Barnabň, prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, in I. Dumitriu-Snagov, Le Saint Siege et la Roumanie moderne 1866-1914 (Miscellanea Historiae Pontificiae 51), Pontificia Universitŕ Gregoriana, Roma, 1989, 237-241, docs. 1-3.
9 Milos, 244-261.
10 Marton József, Katolikus egyháztörténet II (Cluj, 2001), 347-348.
11 Archbishop Francesco Marmaggi arrived in Bucharest on 17 October, 1920. The archbishop of Bucharest Netzhammer had not been delivered the telegram announcing his colleague's arrival. As a consequence, no preparations were made for his arrival - he was not met by anybody at the station, and no accommodation was prepared, therefore he was temporarily lodged at the episcopal palace. These incidents are said to be the root of the numerous subsequent dissents. Netzhammer, Raymund, Episcop În România. Bucuresti, 2005, 953-956.
12 Netzhammer, 1290.
13 Balázs András, "A román uralom évei", in Az erdélyi katolicizmus múltja és jelene, Dics?szentmárton, 1925, 337-338.
14 Vasile Goldis, Memoriu În chestia Concordatului (Bucuresti, 1927). "As early as 1920, during General Averescu's first period at government, when Octavian Goga was Minister of Culture and Religion, negotiations were begun with the Holy See in Rome to sign a Concordat to regulate the relations between the Romanian State and the Catholic Church of Latin, Greek and Armenian rite." (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
15 According to Nuncio Marmaggi, the text was drafted by the Blaj Prebend A. Nicolescu and by the Greek Catholic priest Vasile Lucaciu, aided by Msgr. Ceretti and Benedetti. Netzhammer thought the concordat should have mainly regarded the Latin bishops of the new territories, therefore they should have been consulted.
16 This decision implied the dissolution of two of the Hungarian speaking dioceses of Latin rite, with the implicit reduction of the number of Latin bishops, moreover of those representing the Hungarian community. The subordination of the ancient diocese of Transylvania to the young and much smaller archdiocese of Bucharest was resented by the Hungarian speaking Roman Catholics, as an affront to their ecclesial life.
17 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3344/1921-1924. Box 94. (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
18 "Eltörlik Szent László egyházát és a szatmári püspökséget is, itt az ideje, hogy a magyar püspöki kar többé nem a hódolat tompított hangján, hanem nyílt és sértett önérzettel beszéljen a Szentszékkel és figyelmeztesse eddigi politikája veszélyeire ... semmiféle egyházmegyei új berendezésbe ne menjünk bele. Tartsuk fenn minden egyes egyházmegyénket, bármily kicsi lesz is, avval a szívóssággal, amint a török id?ben történt." Quoted by Salacz Gábor, A magyar katolikus egyház a szomszédos államok uralma alatt (München, 1975), 69. (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
19 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3344/1921-1924, Box 94 (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy).
20 Aeque principaliter, a term from canon law, meant that, after merging, each institution would have retained its own legal personality and no one was subject to the other. One of the dioceses would have had a bishop, the other an ordinary, i.e. a governor.
21 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3344/1921-1924, Box 96 (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy).
22 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3344 (see above).
23 The draft of the concordat written in Latin was taken to Bucharest by the Timisoara Prebend, Augustin Pacha, along with the Satu Mare Bishop, Miklós Széchenyi's letter of protest. Netzhammer, 989.
24 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3344/1921-1924, Box 96.
25 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records, see above, 3344.
26 "O noua Dioceza ce urmeaza a fi Înfiintata În Nord, cu Scaunul Episcopal ce urmeaza a fi desemnat de Comun acord Între Sfântul Scaun si Guvernul Regal. Din aceasta Dioceza vor face parte si greco rutenii cu administratie speciala". Monitorul Oficial nr. 126 din iunie 1929 p. 4479-4486.
27 Salacz, 71.
28 Angelo Maria Dolci, titular Archbishop of Hieropolis, arrived in Bucharest on 24 August, 1923, and worked as Ambassador of the Holy See until 1932.
29 Marton József, Az erdélyi (gyulafehérvári) egyházmegye története (Gyulafehérvár, 1994), 159-160.
30 Netzhammer left the country on July 24, 1924. He returned to the Benedictine monastery of Einsiedeln, Switzerland. In November 1924, he travelled to Rome hoping he could prove his innocence in front of a board of cardinals. However, no hearing was permitted for him. In 1925, he went to Rome again. Eventually, he received a letter informing him about the decision of the board of cardinals: they thanked him for his obedience in resigning and offered him accommodation in Castelgandolfo and a pension of 1500 liras a year. He did not accept the offer and in November 1925 he returned to Ensiedeln. Three years later, he withdrew to the Island of Werd, a property of the monastery; that is where he died on 18 September, 1945, at the age of 83.
31 Nuncio Angelo M. Dolci also wrote to Cardinal Gasparri, because he understood the difficulty of the question of the Romanian hierarchy. He thought no decision should be taken without asking the Hungarian bishops. He proposed two solutions: either all dioceses were to be subordinated to the Bucharest archdiocese, or the Satu Mare and the Oradea dioceses were to be merged and the three Transylvanian dioceses, those of Alba Iulia, Oradea and Timisoara, were to constitute a separate province not subordinated to the Bucharest Archdiocese. Netzhammer 1259-1260.
32 Gyárfás Elemér, president of the Catholic State and Senator, also suggested the same: "You shouldn't accept our being subordinated to the Bucharest Archdiocese unless all Latin dioceses were accepted." Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. 3052/1928. sz.
33 46/Pol. 8 Jan, 1925.
34 In 1927, he recalled the negotiations as follows: "Right from the beginning, I was aware that I had been given an extremely difficult and sensitive task. Two arguments superimposed the rest. The first was that the treaty with Rome should not contain anything that might hurt the interests of the Romanian state or its sovereignty: second, that the government should not prove weaker than the Bratianu government in the negotiations with the Holy See. And I personally was adamant that the Romanian Orthodox Church should not be hurt in anything by the concordat". Vasile Goldis, Memoriu În chestia Concordatului, Bucuresti, 1927 (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
35 Moldovan, ?tefan, Concordatul În dreptul international si concordatul statului Român cu Vaticanul, (Sibiu, 1942), 82.
36 "His Holiness Pope Pius XI, represented by His Eminence the Reverend Cardinal Petru Gasparri, his State Secretary, and, respectively, by His Majesty King of Romania Ferdinand I, represented by His Excellence V. Goldis, Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture, after presenting to each other their credentials, which were accordingly recognized, have decided the following..." Paragraph XXIII regulates the validity and termination of the concordat: "The present Concordat becomes valid right after the ratifications are changed by the Holy See and the Romanian Government. The two contracting parties reserve the right to renounce the present Concordat within 6 months' notice." See the text of the Concordat, in Monitorul Oficial Nr. 126, 12 June 1929 p. 4479-4486, and Acta Apostolicae Sedis XXI (1929) p. 441 (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy).
37 Ghibu, Onisifor, Actiunea catolicismului unguresc si a Sf. Scaun În România (Cluj, 1936); Ghibu, Onisifor, Nulitatea Concordatului (Cluj, 1935); Transsilvanus Viator: A románok concordátuma, (Budapest, 1921).
38 Marton József, "A Szentszék és a Románia konkordátuma 1927-ben", in Erdélyi Múzeum 57.1-2 (1995), 54.
39 "Statul recunoaste Bisericii Catolice, reprezentata prin legitimile ei autoritatii ierarhice, personalitatea juridica, conform dreptului comun al tarii. În consecinta, Parohiile, Protopopiatele, Manastirile, Capitoliile, Starostiile, Abatiile, Episcopiile, Mitropoliile si celelalte organizatii canonic si legal constituite, sunt persoane juridice, iar deplina proprietate a bunurilor lor, de orice natura ar fi ele, este garantata de catre Stat, conform Constitutiei Regatului, Bisericii Catolice, reprezentata prin legitimele ei autoritati ierarhice". The text of the Concordat: Monitorul Oficial Nr. 126 din 12 iulie 1929, 4479-4486.
40 "Toate scolile Ordinelor si ale Congregatiilor religioase sunt puse sub dependenta episcopului local; În consecinta, si ele se vor bucura de dreptul de a fixa limba de predare." Monitorul Oficial Nr. 126 din 12 iulie 1929, 4479-4486.
41 "În scolile primare ale Statului, frecventate În majoritate de catolici, Învatamântul religios se va da de un preot desemnat de Episcop, iar În lipsa de preoti, de un laic catolic, care va putea fi si Învatatorul scolii, numai sa fie recunoscut capabil de catre Episcop".
42 "Daca Episcopul ar informa Ministerul ca profesorul de religie nu este apt, pentru motive referitoare la doctrina sau la moralitate, profesorul va fi obligat sa Înceteze imediat Învatamântul si se va proceda la numirea succesorului conform §§ 2 si 3 de mai sus".
43 "Textele scolare de religie vor trebui de asemenea a fi aprobate de Episcop, care va avea si dreptul de a supraveghea Învatamântul religios predat În zisele scoli".
44 "We, the Apostolic Nuncio, have the honour to respond to the Minister of Foreign Affairs' letter No. 48,524 of July 20, 1928, which exposes some demands of the Government previous to the ratification of the concordat. The Holy See wishes to prove again their benevolence and make the government's work as easy as possible in the ratification of the signed convention, therefore we willingly accept the government's wishes referring Part IX. This article is very clear in its terms and substance. Therefore, if the government declares that during the Parliament debates or at any other occasion, that, according to this article the Catholic Church in Romania, outside the authorities listed in Art. IX, were not to exercise their juridical entity in the ownership of assets, the Holy See declares that they won't make any objection. Concerning the articles XIX and XX relative to schools, the Holy See also consents to the declaration of the government, proposed in the above Letter." (Letter registered at the Nuncio's office under registration number 5310; transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
45 Art. IV; "Comunicatia directa a Episcopilor, a clerului si poporului cu Sfântul Scaun, si vice-versa, În materie spirituala si În afeceri bisericesti, va fi absolut libera." Art. VIII. "Episcopii vor avea deplina libertate În exercitiul functiunilor lor bisericesti si cârmuirea propriilor lor Diocese." Art. XVIII. "Biserica catolica are dreptul de a se Îngriji de asistenta religioasa de orice fel, petru credinciosii ei, În armata, spitalele civile si militare, orfelinate, scolile corectionale, penitenciare, tinând seama de regulamentele institutiunilor respective."
46 Lege pentru regimul general al cultelor Art 38. Institutiunea patronatului cu drepturile si obligatiunile de orice categorie este si ramâne desfiintata fara nici o indemnizare. In: Monitorul oficial din 22 aprilie 1928 nr 89.
47 Archdiocese and Prebendal Records. Batch l. March 14, 1928. "Honorable Sir, Thank You for Your letter. However, allow me to make some corrections. You say that I managed to eliminate the Roman Catholic Bishops' ancient right to be Members of the Senate. Excuse me, but You are wrong. It wasn't me to eliminate this right of the Roman Catholic bishops but the 1923 Romanian Constitution that declares explicitly those Members of the Senate by law are all the Romanian Orthodox and Greek Catholic bishops as well as one representative of all the other churches. The Concordat only declares that the above representative of the Roman Catholic Church shall be the Bucharest Roman Catholic Archbishop. That is why I make the following observation on p. 23. of my Memorandum: "Therefore, as it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church will be represented by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bucharest, and the other Roman Catholic bishops are not senators according to law, as long as the present constitution is valid" ("Astfel, cum este clar, ca biserica romano-catholica va fi reprezentata În Senat prin Arhiepiscopul romano-catholic din Bucuresti, iar ceilalti episcopi romano-catolici nu sunt senatori de drept, câta vreme ramâne În vigoare Constitutiunea de acum.") Therefore: as long as the present constitution is valid. I wish to make only one more point for your excellence's illumination: the text of the Concordat attached to the memorandum is not a draft but the final, signed text. Please accept the expression of my sincere respect. László Goldis." (transl. Ágnes Gálfalvy)
48 Elemér Gyárfás, A konkordátum és az erdélyi katolikusok. (Parlamenti interpelláció). 1929. május 23-án, in Magyar Kisebbség, 1929.VIII. v. I. 445-470.
49 Lege pentru Ratificarea Concordatului. First and only article. "Guvernul este autorizat a ratifica si a face sa execute Concordatul Încheiat la Vatican la 10 mai 1927 Între România si Sfântul Scaun." It was enacted by the High Decree No. 1842 of June 11 and published in Monitorul Oficial No. 126, June 12, 1929, p. 4478.
Acta Apostolicae Sedis. XXI (1929) 452-454.
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Legea pentru ratificarea Concordatului. In: Monitorul Oficial. No. 126 din 12 iunie 1929, 4479-4486.
Lege pentru regimul general al cultelor. In: Monitorul oficial. No. 89 din 22 aprilie 1928, 4478
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Dean of the Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania.