(By Our Budapest Correspondent)
His interpretation of the numerus clausus question in Hungary was put forth by the chief Catholic dignitary of Hungary, Cardinal Johann von Czernoch, in an interview with Mr. Jacob Landau, director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, who was in this country in the course of his European tour.
The numerus clausus against Jewish students, the Cardinal declared, was enacted not because of anti-Semitism, but because of the large number of intellectuals and professionals in Hungary who can neither earn their livelihood nor emigrate. The Cardinal also expressed the opinion that a numerus clausus should be enacted against all other groups in the country, in order to reduce the number of professionals and make it possible for members of this class to earn their livelihood.
“The overproduction of members in the intellectual class led to the numerus clausus, an overproduction that cannot be denied by anyone,” the Cardinal stated. “In fact, it is necessary to keep all other groups in the country as well as the Jews from further increasing the ‘spiritual proletariat.’ It is clear that this is necessary in the interests of the state and the social order, at a time when hundreds upon hundreds of intellectuals cannot earn their livelihood and are therefore driven into the arms of Bolshevism especially since Hungary is unable to reduce the number of diploma holders through emigration as England and America have closed their doors and the Orient does not as yet offer a field for these elements. In admitting students to the colleges, the principle of accepting only the ablest should be followed. I personally have on numerous occasions intervened in behalf of the admission of Jewish students whose cases came to my attention.
“At any rate,” the Cardinal proceeded “anti-Semitism is on the decline, it seems. The leaders of the Catholic church are opposed to the anti-Semitic movement. I acquired this conviction at the conference of bishops, when questions touching other faiths came up on the program. I have the sincerest respect for everyone who is loyal to his faith, and to cite but one example, I will refer to Paul Saendor, member of Parliament, whom I have known from the days when I was still a member of Parliament, who has recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his membership in Parliament and for whom I have the highest respect.”
Cardinal von Czernoch went on to discuss the causes of anti-Semitism and voiced his belief that the anti-Semitic movement in Hungary derived strength from the fact that some Jews had participated in the Bolshevist revolution in Hungary.
“When I was in America,” the Cardinal observed, “I saw with great interest how friendly and peacefully the various faiths live alongside each other. It seems to me that the American press deserves great credit for this mutual tolerance and consideration, because it keeps away from religious controversies.”
As regards the attitude of the vatican to Zionism, the Cardinal declared that the vatican has refrained up to now from taking any official position on this matter. It is true that Bishop Barlassina in Jerusalem appears to be very uneasy. “But I believe,” the Cardinal concluded “that Zionism will have more difficulty with the Arabs than with the Christians.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.