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Hungarian Clergy Arousing Anti-semitism As Part of Anti-government Campaign

A violently anti-Semitic sermon delivered last Sunday from the pulpit of the Franciscan Church in Buda, largest Roman Catholic parish in Hungary, spotlights the role of some of the clergy in the rising tide of anti-Semitism in this country.

In the sermon it was charged that Jews are responsible for the deplorable economic situation here; that Jews hold most of the important government jobs; that Jews are profiteering from the peoples’ misery and that reports of Jewish sufferings during the war have been exaggerated.

Reports that similar sermons are being preached throughout Hungary by Catholic priests are disturbing both government officials and Jewish circles. Catholic sources decline to be quoted, but by and large many of them seem to sincerely believe the charges against the Jews made in the sermons.

Although some members of the Catholic hierarchy, such as the Bishop of Szeged, are attempting to combat this trend, other high Church circles are lending encouragement to anti-Semitic elements among the clergy, reports indicate.

The basis of this clerical anti-Semitism is the Church’s hatred for the Government. The Church has made no secret of the fact that it resents the land reform laws which have deprived it of vast holdings. The greatly reduced influence of the Catholic Church in state affairs has also increased its bitterness against the present regime.

PASTORAL LETTER WOULD EASE SITUATION, JEWISH CIRCLES FEEL

In the struggle to retain its wealth and its power, the Church is striking back by attacking what it considers the government’s vulherable spot–the fact that a number of Hungarian Communist leaders are Jews.

Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty stubbornly believes that these Jewish Communists are solely responsible for the Church’s difficulties and also believes they can be controlled and influenced by the leaders of Hungary’s Jewish community. Actually the official Jewish community, which is largely non-Communist, has absolutely no influence on the Jewish Communists and it is somewhat frightened to find itself once again being made a scapegoat.

These Jewish circles feel that active measures, such as a pastoral letter similar to the one recently issued by the Calvinists, could be taken to counter anti-Semitism among the Catholic clergy. They prefer to work directly with the Catholics on this problem, rather than have the Government take any action, which they fear might aggravate the situation.

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