László Virt: Living in minority and in following Christ. An outline to the life story and beliefs of bishop Áron Márton

The study gives a summary on the life story of Áron Márton (1896–1980). The Roman Catholic bishop of Transylvania had undertaken a triple minority position. As a Hungarian in Romania, he belonged to a national minority. As a Catholic, he had undertaken a denomination minority, as the state religion was Greek Orthodox. As a believer, in the times of communism he also belonged to the ideological minority, as he managed to preserve the autonomy of the church entrusted to him, by not making terms under any conditions with the atheist state power. He also founded a Catholic periodical on education and popular culture entitled “Transylvanian School“, which claimed that the framework of life in minority is an endowment. In 1940, after the Second Vienna Award, he stayed in Gyulafehérvár, the seat of the bishopric belonging to the Romania of Antonescu. His point of orientation was not the centre of power or politics, but the system of values given by God. In 1944, in the time when the deportations of the Jewry of Hungary to the extermination camps started, he condemned racial persecution from the pulpit in Cluj belonging to Hungary, and here he announced with the pride of a senior pastor that the majority of his adherents are thinking similarly. The text of his speech was reproduced and distributed in the summer of 1944 by the Budapest office of the Holy Spirit Association (Szent Lélek Szövetség) lead by Margit Slachta, what served as a spiritual enhancement for the Jews and a guidance for the Christians of Budapest. At the same time, he wrote a letter to the Hungarian minister of the interior, to the lord lieutenant and the police superintendant of the Cluj county, in which he demanded an immediate stop to deportations. In 1948 he urged his adherents in circular letters to support the prosecuted Greek Catholic Romanians. Áron Márton had not only helped the survival of the Greek Catholic Church, but he also ordained the secret seminarians of the banned Franciscan order. In 1949 he was imprisoned for refusing to subordinate his church under the state interests. He spent six years in prison and ten years in a house confinement, under home arrest. He was posthumously awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for his efforts for rescuing the Transylvanian Jewry.