The nation-wide debate on the amendment of the so-called agent law is of political nature. 15 years after the change of the regime the issue of agents cannot be clarified any more. The anonymously published list* supports this conviction. It is also commonly known that in 1989 an enormous amount of documents was annihilated that had to do with the activity of the political police and its leaders.
In the decades of socialism every part of society was observed. Even those who were in leading positions of lower level were obliged to prepare “reports on the atmosphere” “in the interest of preserving the security of the republic of people”.
The communist party established this observer system also among priests and friars as they were considered the greatest ideological enemy. To set up this system all kinds of mental and physical terror were applied. There were a lot of people who heroically stood their ground against the affliction, sometimes even sacrificing their lives. Among them were lay people, friars and priests. The Catholic Church pays tribute to them for their courage. Others left the country or withdrew to a provincial parish to continue pastoral work. There were also some who broke down under the weight of troubles and agreed to cooperate. They became victims of an inhuman system whose creators and maintainers might be in power today. These politicians do not have a moral base to condemn those who made reports.
Among the cooperators there were certainly priests, friars and lay people who, unfortunately with harmful intention, sinned against their fellow men. We apologise for what they did to the offended ones and to God.
Many of the former agents revealed their activity to their fellow priests, relieving their conscience this way. Others apologised after the political changes to those who they had reported about. Although there are some who still owe this apology, in the spirit of Christ’s love we cannot call them to account. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged” (Lk 6,37).
There are people who draw a parallel between these clericals with those politicians who do not want to face the consequences of their past. Those who are of this opinion may forget that clerical people became victims of politicians and they might become victims also today if their names get published. At the same time these clerical persons do not hold public positions, unlike politicians.
Finally, we repeat: due to reasons mentioned above, the past of the agents cannot be recognised any more in its entire reality. The atmosphere around the law proposal is of political origin and serves as an attack against the Church and tries to bring discredit on clerical persons. Publishing false lists of uncertain origin is also part of the attack against the Church.
1st March, 2005
Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference
[* Last week there was a list published of church leaders who are involved in the issue of agents in the communist regime.]