Posted by: Fr Chris | March 9, 2011

New Byzantine Bishop for Hungary: Sign of Growth!

On March6, the Vatican announced that Hieromonk Atanasz (Athanasius) Orosz, professor and rector of the Hungarian Greek Catholic College of Saint Athansius, will be ordained as Exarch of Miskolc.

The Hungarian  Greek Catholic Church will now have two serving bishops. The exarchate of Miskolc, in the northwest, was founded to serve Slavonic-language parishes which were located within the new Hungarian state in 1924 after the the Treaty of Trianon, which deprived Hungary of huge territories. These original 21 parishes belonged to the Presov Eparchy and were using Old Slavonic, and so Rome created a separate exarchate for them. The majority of Hungary’s Greek Catholics belonged to the Hajdudorogh eparchy founded in 1912, and were worshiping in Hungarian.

The first Bishop for Miskolc was Anton Papp, who had abandoned his eparchy of Mukachevo in the republic of Czechoslovakia and fled to Hungary.  He did so because he refused to be a bishop in a republic, and one which was Slav-ruled. His flight contributed to the problems the Catholic Church suffered in that republic. But that’s another topic.  Old Slavonic was steadily dropped in favor of Hungarian throughout the 1930s and World War II. After Bishop Papp died in 1945, the bishops of Hajdudorogh served double duty as bishop and exarch.

The new bishop of Hajdudorogh, Peter Fulop Kocsis (ordained priest 1989, consecrated bishop 2008) is a hieromonk, a monk-priest. He and the new exarch, Atanasz Orosz, went to the great bi-ritual monastery of Chevetogne, Belgium, in order to revive traditional monastic life in the Hungarian Byzantine Catholic Church. They studied there from 1991-96 and then returned home to establish the Holy Resurrection Monastery in the Danube valley.  Father Atanasz (Athanasius) also served as a professor and rector at the seminary.  When the hieromonk Peter was called to serve as bishop, Father Atanasz continued to live the strict monastic life, while fulfilling obligations as rector of the Greek Catholic seminary.

He has published numerous articles on patristics,  Byzantine liturgical studies,  mysticism in the Byzantine tradition, the use of Scripture in Greek Catholic worship, and the Church as community in the writings of Saint John Chrysostom. He is a member of both the Hungarian society for patristic studies and the “Vienna Group” which does international ecumenical work. He has published several volumes of the Menaion in Hungarian, and is author of 69 professional articles. He has most recently spoken on St Maximos the Confessor at the “Pro Oriente” conference in Thessalonika and again at the Hungarian Theological Teachers Conference in 2010.

The Exarchate today has 20,000 faithful in 30 parishes, with 31 priests. Some of these parishes are in industrial centers that were built as “godless” towns under the communists. The inhabitants were taken out of traditional village life and put into apartment complexes and factory work. Priests had to conduct their ministry in secret and they were harrased by the police if they were caught.  These godless towns experienced many moral and social problems. After 1990, the new government assisted with the establishment of new Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran churches.  So Miskolc is an fascinating mix of traditional churches and missionary parishes.



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