“One Sentence About the Truth...”

To borrow famous words, they lied in the morning, they lied in the evening, they lied all the time.

So why should they have told the truth about the particular judgement of eviction from his residence passed against László Tőkés? Let us quote from the worthy successor to Nero, Caligula, Hitler and Stalin: N. Ceauşescu:

“On December 16 and 17, under the pretext of preventing the implementation of a lawful court judgement, some groups of hooligan elements (in Timişoara) organised numerous protests and incidents...” (Vörös Zászló, Thursday, December 21, 1989)

I shall try to describe here what the soon-to-be overthrown leaders of the Country and their intimidated or corrupted agents of justice meant when they talked of a lawful court judgement.

The showdown with László Tőkés, the Reformed Church priest of Timişoara, was billed as an eviction lawsuit by the Bishop of Oradea – the traitor László Papp – who served the regime to the last, and who fell with it.

On September 21, 1989 the bishopric of Oradea, as a legal entity, and over the signature of Bishop László Papp, requested from the municipal court of Timişoara that the priest László Tőkés be evicted from his service flat (the parsonage) at Timotei Cipariu Street 1/1, Timişoara.

Point 126/II/a of the statute of the Reformed Church states about the rights and competence of the bishop that: “The bishop, as the clerical chairman of the bishopric, represents the bishopric together with the general superintendent versus the state government, the courts and authorities, as well as third persons”.

I believe that everybody noticed and I underlined it that the bishop alone signed the petition for eviction, and thus, according to the above clause, his action was legally invalid.

The court of Timişoara, of course, rejected this procedural exception, which the solicitor of László Tőkés presented in defence of his client. (And this exception argument had first been prepared by my colleague from Târgu Mureş, Zoltán Cziprián.)

At the hearing of the appeal, where I undertook to represent László Tőkés in person, the representative of the bishopric deposited a document signed on November 14, according to which Edit Bányai, the diocese substitute [provisional] general superintendent, agreed with and supported the motion for eviction.

About this document, I said at the hearing that it proved that the bishopric itself recognised that the bishop alone, without the general superintendent, could not represent the bishopric before the court. Since the judgement of first instance [initial ruling] was passed on October 20, 1989, the posterior (November 14) supplement to the signature was invalid. Consequently I requested that the dispositions of section 133 of the Civil Procedure to be applied.

This would have stipulated that the missing signature could have been supplied only before the issuing of the initial ruling, never after. And therefore, because it was supplied too late, the whole petition was null and void.

The County Court, of course, rejected this procedural exception too.

I also pointed out that the registered owner of the Tőkés parsonage was the Reformed Parish of Timişoara, and consequently only the parish as a legal entity would have been entitled to demand eviction from the service flat.

(Let me note that not only did the parish not request the eviction of László Tőkés, but entered into the case in the defence of its priest and demanded the rejection of the bishop’s request.)

The immediately superior organ of the parish, the Deanery of Arad, did not figure in the court case, but legally it would not have been incorrect if the superior organ had represented the parish instead of the central organ.

For instance, the People’s Council of Sovata can be represented before the courts by the People’s Council of the county as a superior organ, but not by the Council of Ministers. Of course, this argument was also rejected by the County Court. But for me, by the law, the conclusion of all this was clear: that the bishop has no right to terminate the employment of a priest.

One of the curious points in this whole affair is that the disciplinary regulations of the Reformed Church of the Romanian Socialist Republic, which states that only disciplinary committees of the church can make such a decision, was signed in November 1980, inter alia, by László Papp, President of the Bishops’ Synod.

I believe László Papp avoided turning to the disciplinary committees, because in addition to well known and respected clergymen, lay personalities held in high esteem are also members of these committees. I believe he assumed that he would be unable to carry through his unlawful intention of having the employment contract terminated.

It was despite the above that the judgement of eviction, claimed to be lawful by N. Ceauşescu, was passed.

Although the judgement of eviction did not include László Tőkés’s pregnant wife, Edit, the men of the Securitate (who legally had nothing to do with the execution of a judgement, since this was the task of the court bailiff) carried her off and away from the parsonage.

Fortunately, all this was in vain. The heroic stand of the besieged László Tőkés bore fruit – as the world now knows, his parishioners’ resistance was the spark which set the fire for the victorious revolution. At the time, this knowledge was filled with great joy. Perhaps for the first time in history, Hungarians, Romanians, Germans and the sons and daughters of other peoples living in our country fought together in full agreement and identity of interests, if not values.

Indeed, I believe that only during the murderous volleys of the security forces directed against the demonstrators was it possible to identify for certain ethnic identity of those dying sons and daughters. For perhaps in one’s moment of death, one may scream out the exclamation that comes most naturally, and be excused for speaking in one’s mother tongue in a public place.

We must save the lesson of this wonderful concord for the future: and the condition on which this concord depends is full and genuine equality, the free use of our nation’s various languages in the schools, at the universities, in offices. Everywhere, at all times. So be it.

In all that happened between the Timişoara court hearings and the appearance of the above article after the downfall of Ceauşescu, a big role was played by my client, László Tőkés. He subsequently became Bishop of Oradea, the Honorary President of the Democratic Association of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), and indeed an internationally recognised personality.