The 48th Sonnet follows the classic form and tradition of this genre of poetry. It expresses the values and belief system of the anti-Soviet partisans of that time, and shared ideas about the essence of life and the struggle for freedom.
The Memorandum addressed to the president of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly on 29 March 1948 by the six Romanian Greek Catholic bishops concerns those aspects of the project of the 1948 Romanian Constitution which hampered religious freedom in Romania. The six Romanian Greek Catholic bishops who signed the document and assumed the risk of being arrested were: Valeriu Traian Frenţiu (Bishop of Oradea), Iuliu Hossu (Bishop of Cluj-Gherla), Alexandru Rusu (Bishop of Maramureş), Ioan Bălan (Bishop of Lugoj), Ioan Suciu (Auxiliary Bishop of Oradea) and Vasile Aftenie (Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar Bishop of Bucharest and the Old Kingdom.This risk was materialised in the autumn of 1948 when they were arrested and imprisoned by the Securitate for their obstinate resistance to the abusive policies of the communist regime towards their church (Vasile 2002).
In the introduction of the Memorandum the leadership of the Church emphasise the importance of the new Constitution and the real need for social reforms in the country, which the 1948 Constitution included. After this captatio benevolentiae, the six bishops bring to the fore those stipulations which in their opinion could “violate natural and perennial human rights” and the international obligations assumed by the Romanian state through international treaties (ACNSAS, Fond Documentar, dosar FD 8792, ff. 359–360). Their criticism targets especially article 28, the third part of the project of the 1948 Constitution, which stated: “No congregation or religious denomination may establish and administrate institutions of general education, but only special schools aimed at training the staff of the religious denomination under the control of the state” (f. 361).
The argument of the Memorandum is that the stipulations of the third part of article 28 is in contradiction with another part of the same article, which stipulated freedom of religion. By these limitations concerning the education system, the Greek Catholic bishops considered that an important aspect of the freedom of religion was violated. Thus, in their opinion the third part “suppresses those generous stipulations proclaimed previously” (f. 362).
The Memorandum emphasises the natural right of citizens to educate their children according to their values and convictions. The bishops invoke the long tradition not only of Greek Catholic but also of Orthodox confessional schools in Transylvania, and emphasise their importance in the affirmation of Romanian national culture and identity in Transylvania (f. 363). The bishops also emphasise that the confessional schools were attended during the nineteenth century mainly by children of peasant origin and represented a lever for social emancipation for the Romanian population of this region.
In conclusion, the text points out that the decision to abolish the confessional educational system in Romania will be an act of injustice from many points of view and states that: “For our part, we stand firm to declare that we will never give up, in any circumstances and on any conditions, what we believe is the inalienable right of our Church.” All the six Greek Catholic Bishops signed the document, which was addressed to the communist authorities. A copy of this document was attached to the files of the Documentary Fonds, created by the Securitate in order to document the “Greek Catholic issue”.
- Bucharest, Romania
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The psalm ‘Rūpintojėlių Lietuva’ was written by Miškinis during his imprisonment in Siberia. The lyrics of the psalm follow the style of the psalms in the Bible. It is like an appeal to God, asking His help for all Soviet deportees. In the psalm, the Soviet regime is seen as a nine-headed dragon. Neither the psalm nor parts of it have been translated into English or into other foreign languages.
“I have been sentenced to 6 months in prison for unnatural fornication. I do not believe my behaviour should be punishable by law since it does not constitute a crime. From the most ancient times of human history, among the oldest civilizations, the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, in the Islamic world, in Japan and China, this ‘unnatural fornication’ had been tolerated. It was only with the emergence of the Catholic Church and its supremacy that this fornication was proclaimed the sin of Sodom, and harshly punished […] Countries that managed to wrest themselves free from Catholic supremacy introduced more tolerant regulation of sexual matters, regarding marriage and even homosexuality. As far as I know, there is not a single modern state that would consider adultery or homosexuality crimes” (HR-DAZG-1007-527: “Žalba [Branka Vujaklije] na presudu Okružnog suda u Zagrebu K 236/949-7”, prosinca 1949. [Appeal (of Branko Vujaklija) against Zagreb District Court verdict K 236/949-7, December, 1949]).
With these words Branko Vujaklija, a 23-year-old theology student and Serbian Orthodox cleric from Zagreb, attempted to convince the Croatian Supreme Court to release him from prison where he was held for “unnatural fornication.”
During his trial, Vujaklija unapologetically declared he was homosexual. He tried to explain to the judge that he was only acting in accord with his “natural sexual instincts,” that his sexual relations were always with consenting adults and never in public, so therefore, Vujaklija argued, he could not have been declared guilty. The judge ignored his arguments, and found his acts extremely immoral (Dota 2017, 94-95). Vujaklija did not give up and wrote an appeal (part of which was quoted earlier). He changed his argument: since he was sentenced as a moral degenerate and a debauched bourgeois, this time Vujaklija himself decided to use ideological arguments as well. He tried to explain to the judges that the contempt towards homosexuality had its origins in the Catholic tradition that should have no place in a new, modern and progressive socialist society. However, his efforts were in vain, and the Supreme Court of Croatia rejected his appeal (Dota 2017, 95).
Both the court sentence and Vujaklija’s appeal were retrieved during Domino’s research, and thus became part of the Collection History of Homosexuality in Croatia. The 1949 verdict, as well as other related documents, including the cited appeal letter, were originally held in the State Archives in Zagreb (DAZG), and are part of the Zagreb County Court Fund (HR-DAZG-1007).
These documents testify to the ideological motivations behind the persecution of homosexuality in the post-revolutionary phase of communist Yugoslavia, but also to the resistance mounted by some sentenced homosexuals against the authorities. Vujaklija was bold and daring enough not only to depict his homosexuality as a completely natural phenomenon, but also to demand his own acquittal and the decriminalization of the same-sex sexual relations in general.
- Zagreb Petrinjska ulica, Croatia 10000
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During the first decade of the communist regime, the educational system in Romania was fundamentally reformed in accordance with the Education Act of 3 August 1948, which imposed – among other things – the nationalisation of denominational schools. Faced with this difficult situation, the leadership of the Evangelical Church asked pastors to teach confirmation classes in clergy houses, churches, or state schools. Starting from the end of 1948, the local authorities received instructions to obstruct the teaching of any confirmation classes.
In reaction, the leadership of the Evangelical Church sent numerous memorandums to the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Bishop Friedrich Müller did his best to tackle this kind of interdiction, which he had already faced when Episcopal vicar in 1941. At that time, he had opposed the taking-over of denominational schools by the local Nazi organisation, the German Ethnic Group, which controlled the German minority in Romania. The confirmation classes were very important for the Evangelical Church, because without attending these classes, young people could not have been able to pass the confirmation examination and become full members of the religious community. However the state authorities considered the confirmation classes to be a tool for preserving the Church’s influence in society.
Particularly interesting is the memorandum sent by the High Consistory of the Evangelic Church A.C. in Romania to the Ministry of Religious Affairs on 28 February 1949. In this memorandum, Bishop Müller criticises the measures taken by the Securitate and Militia against the practice of confirmation classes in the village of Brădeni/Hendorf (Sibiu county). This document is remarkable for the complex theological argumentation concerning the significance of confirmation classes for Evangelical young people. In the first part of the memorandum, Bishop Müller argues that the instructions sent to local Militia stations by the Securitate Directorate of Sibiu violated the laws of the communist state, including the Constitution of 1948 and section 7 of Decree no. 177 of 1948 regarding the activity of religious denominations in Romania. In the latter text, the Bishop explains, it is plainly stated that “denominations are free to organise themselves and practice their religion if these practices do not contradict the Constitution, the security of the state, or public order.” Bishop Müller also emphasises that the banning of confirmation classes violates the basic rights of citizens, which are guaranteed by article 27 of the communist Constitution of 1948. He goes on to invoke the speeches of the minister of education, who had stated in the official newspaper Scânteia that religious denominations were free to teach the principles of their faith to the young generations of their communities. In addition, the minister had alluded to the fact that insults to “religious feelings” helped only the “enemies” of the new regime. Pursuing this official declaration, Bishop Müller ends his argument by saying that “there is no worse insult to religious feelings than banning the religious education [...] of young people.” He thus asks the Ministry of Religious Affairs to urge the leadership of the Securitate to stop the persecution against confirmation classes. In this way, Bishop Müller tried to take advantage of the inconsistencies in the policies of the communist regime, which intended on the one hand to limit the influence of the churches among young people, but on the other, to co-opt the local protestant churches.