The difficulty of looking ahead

The Country is facing a transition phase. The role of the Church and of the media. The Roma's presence

Over 20 years have passed since the fall of Communism. What’s today’s Hungary like? Which challenges have been overcome and which still need to be faced at social and cultural level? What prospects does it offer to the young, and what is the weight of the problems linked to integration aimed at the Country’s development, that joined the European Union in 2004? Nike Giurlani, for SIR Europe, asked these questions to Csaba Török, Theology Professor at the Catholic University Péter Pázmány of Esztergom (Hungary). What are the working prospects in Hungary, for the young in particular? "Our youths are experiencing serious job placement problems, and ever more often they decide to go abroad, to Germany and Austria in particular, as well as Ireland and England. There reportedly are 200 thousands Hungarians in London. Many of those who decide not to leave don’t even try to have a carrier since they grew up in families whose parents lost their jobs with the end of Communism, and since they lack good formation they found it difficult to integrate within a modern society and they feel lost and discouraged, failing to see work as a means of personal achievement." What is the role of civil society in Hungary? "It does not exist, and there are no active lay associations. The reason for this is that for decades public life was organized by political parties. However, something is starting to change, also thanks to the web and to social networks. The Church also finds it hard to carve out an independent voice for public funding that linked it to political parties, but improvements are registered also in this sector, although statistics show that the credibility of priests and politicians is very low. The most respected are the firemen with 65% of popular consensus!" What support does the media provide to the challenges the Country is called to face? "After Communism a strong liberalization ensued. We are now witnessing new closures and a manipulation of the media, of the press in particular, by political parties. Freedom passes through the web, whereby many young people get informed. But a large number of them continue making a massive use of television, and let themselves be brainwashed by devious messages conveyed by talent and reality shows." What is the relationship between Hungarians and the consistent ethnic minorities in the Country? "For historical reasons central European countries are characterized by the presence of mixed nationalities, which has led to increasing episodes of intolerance throughout the years. In Hungary relations have smoothed out with Slovenia and Croatia, but minority groups from these countries are not the problem. The real problem is the Roma, whose various sub-groups are marked by lack of identity, nationality and shared culture. They even lack a common language, they are trying to create a literary one, called ‘lovari’, into which they recently translated the Bible, but which most of them don’t speak because it is not a mother tongue. The problem of their formation and education is crucial. That’s why there are special programs and grants to support their studies. Also the Catholic Church supports this challenge." How?"Several projects have been activated addressed to their education since childhood, along with those conceived for the Roma élite so that they may become cultural mediators. On the other hand the efforts of Catholic Church are aimed at triggering their sense of community, sharing, along with a redemption course for those Roma involved in organized crime. There are currently 5 priests of Gipsy origin in Hungary. They are accepted and listened to more, compared to Hungarian priests, who are yet deeply committed in this mission. For example, when I served as curate in Budapest I attended a very interesting initiative with the participation of 34 Roma, including people with a criminal background. In a week we undertook a spiritual path that on Fridays brought the first confessions, Saturday baptisms and marriage and Communion on Sundays. Thus three generations entered the life of the Church, gaining full awareness of the meaning of crime, sin, and redemption. Thanks to the feeling of reconciliation we have created a bond that overcomes identity, language and cultural differences, with the purpose of peaceful coexistence, where people are not just close to each other but learn to be together."

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