Archd., 4; dioc., 9; abp., 1; ap. ex., 1; mil. ord. 1; card., 1; abp., 6; bp., 21; parishes, 2,189; priests, 2,438 (1,910 dioc., 528 rel); p.d., 50; sem., 477; bros., 71 srs., 1,470; catechists, 2,914; bap., 51,084; Caths., 6,266,000 (63%); tot. pop., 9,920,000.
Republic in central Europe; capital, Budapest. The early origins of Christianity in the country, whose territory was subject to a great deal of change, is not known. Magyars accepted about the end of the 10th century. St. Stephen I promoted its spread and helped to organize some of its historical dioceses. Bishops became influential in politics as well as in the Church.
For centuries the country served as a buffer for the Christian West against barbarians from the East, notably the Mongols in the 13th century. Hussities and Waldensians prepared the way for the Reformation, which struck at almost the same time as the Turks. The Reformation made considerable progress after 1526, resulting in the conversion of large numbers to Lutheranism and Calvinism by the end of the century. Most of them or their descendants returned to the Church later, but many Magyars remained staunch Calvinists. Turks repressed the Churches, Protestant as well as Catholic, during a reign of 150 years, but they managed to survive. Domination of the church was one of the objectives of the government policy during the reigns of Maria Theresa and Joseph II in the second half of the 18th century; their Josephinism affected Church- state relations until World War I.
Secularization increased in the second half of the 19th century, which also witnessed the birth of many new Catholic organizations and movements. Catholics were involved in the social chaos and anti-religious atmosphere of the years following World War I, struggling with their compatriots for religious as well as political survival.
After World War II, the communist campaign against the Church started with the disbanding of Catholic organizations in 1946. In 1948, Caritas, the Catholic charitable organization, was taken over, and all Catholic institutions were suppressed. Interference in Church administration and attempts to split the bishops preceded the arrest of Cardinal Jozsef Mindszently Dec. 26,1948, and his sentence to life imprisonment in 1949. ( He was free for a few days during the unsuccessful uprising of 1956. He then took up residence at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, where he remained until September 1971, when he was permitted to leave the country. He died in1975 Vienna.)
In 1950, religious orders and congregations were suppressed and 10,000 religious were interned. Several dozen priests and monks were assassinated, jailed, or deported. About 4,000 priests and religious were confined in jail or concentration camps. The government sponsored a national "Progressive Catholic" Church and captive organizations for priests, Despite a 1964 agreement with the Holy See regarding episcopal appointments, bishops remained subjected to government surveillance and harassment.
On Feb.9, 1990, an accord was signed between the Holy See and Hungary re-establishing diplomatic relations. Pope John Paul II reorganized the ecclesiastical structure of the country in May 1993. In 1997, the Vatican and Hungary signed and agreement that restored some Church property confiscated under communism and provide some sources of funding for Church activities. Hungary's bishops have said social conflicts, political changes and economic strains have put new pressure on the Church.
(The above exert comes from Our Sunday Visitor's 2004 Catholic Almanac and is used on this web site with the publisher's permission.)