En souvenir du révérend Arpad Szabo, les unitariens français ont apporté deux témoignages : celui d’Albert Blanchard-Gaillard : « Le révérend Arpad Szabo était à Montpellier en 1986 », publié le 4 octobre 2010 sur le site des chrétiens unitariens (lien) et celui de Jean-Claude Barbier, publié le 2 octobre 2010 dans les Actualités unitariennes : « Les unitariens sont en deuil de l'ancien évêque de Transylvanie, Arpad Szabo » (lien). Pour nos visiteurs anglo-saxons, nous avons traduit en anglais ces deux textes, lesquels ont été mis en ligne sur le site de l’International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) (lien) à l’article « In memoriam Rev. Dr. Árpád Szabó » qui comporte un « Tribute Website » où diverses personnes et congrégations ont apporté leurs témoignages et condoléances
In remembering the Reverend Arpad Szabo, Unitarians in France bring two testimonies that of Albert Blanchard-Gaillard : “The reverend Arpad Szabo was at Montpellier in 1986”, published on October 4, 2010 on the site of the Unitarian Christians and that of Jean-Claude Barbier, published on October 2, 2010 in the Unitarian Current events : “The Unitarian ones are in mourning of the former bishop of Transylvania, Arpad Szabo”.
1 - The testimony of Albert Blanchard-Gaillard,
Albert Blanchard-Gaillard, project superintendent of Unitarianism in France and current honorary president of the Fraternal Assembly of the Unitarian Christians (AFCU), now 78 years old : I remember very well the presence of the reverend Arpad Szabo to the world conference of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) which was held at the Free Faculty of Protestant theology of Montpellier in July 7, 1986. He had come with another Transylvanian reverend, the historian Janos Erdö. Both were collaborators of the bishop Lajos Kovacs, which had not been able to attend; Janos Erdô will succeed besides the latter in 1994 (for 2 years reign 1994-1996), then it will be Arpad Szabo which will take over as from 1996.
There was also the Bishop Jozsef Ferencz of the Unitarian Church of Hungary (of which the seat is at Budapest). The latter speaking well French, it is with him that Albert Blanchard-Gaillard had the most contact and he was charged besides to be used to him as guide.
It is precisely this bishop who, a few months later, will devote like Pasteur the American Lucienne Kirk, on December 7, 1986, in unitarian church of Cluj-Napoca (the unitarian bishop of Transylvania, whose seat is Cluj-Napoca, was then Dr. Lajos Kovacs, above-mentioned and who was bishop of 1972 to 1994). After this ordination, Lucienne Kirk will exert substitutions within the Reformed Church of France (ERF), in particular in a parish of the Cevennes at Vialas; then she returned to the United States in 1990 and militated within Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF).
Following the death of the reverend Arpad Szabo, this Thursday September 30, the unitarian Christians of France and nearby French-speaking countries send their condolences to the family of late and ensure the Unitarian Church of Transylvania of all their fraternity.
2 - the testimony of Jean-Claude Barbier :
The reverend Arpad Szabo is deceased this Thursday September 30, 2010. He was the 30th bishop of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania (Church founded in 1568 by the Hungarian Ferenc David) from 1996 to December 2008, date on which Ferenc Balint Bencedi succeeded to him.
Very active within International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), he was the first vice-president in 1995 at the time of the installation of this authority. By the presence even of his Church within this world network, it was the faith as a God who was thus maintained within contemporary Unitarianism. Liberal protestant Pasteur André Gounelle reported to me that one day, in London, at the time of a meeting of International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), exceeded by the humanistic wave which refused any trace of theism, it exclaimed, exceeded, “nevertheless Allow me to speak about God ! ”. I specify that, since, this wave somewhat fells down and any more its tyranny does not exert; spirituality was in particular given to the honor within Anglo-Saxon Unitarianism, as from 2003, following the speech of the reverend William G. Sinkford, president of Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregation (UUA).
I had happiness to meet him on two occasions. The first time during the days of the European and Middle Eastern branch of IARF - within the framework of which took place a pre-conference of the network of European liberal protestant network (ELPN) to which I had taken part. Then, at the time of the meeting of the ICUU at Oberwesel, in the Rhineland, in November 2007; and it is in his presence that I read this stanza evoking his Church:
« Our roots, as you know well, can be found in the forests of Transylvania. They were, these forests, urbanised by opening spaces and cities, by the German / from the Saxon area we call Germany today, till the area of Lorraine which became part of France. Poets of hungarian origin sang about these forests. / They gave birth, by the voice of Ferenc David, to the cry for truth, / which became the last Protestant reformation, the youngest girl, our own tradition. » (circumstantial poem that I had entitled “Come from the whole world”).
Our article of December 6, 2008 in the Unitarian Current events reporting the episcopal succession in Transylvania was precisely entitled “the Unitarian Christians have a new bishop”. It was to say that, more precisely for the Unitarian ones of Christian faith, dispersed all over the world, the bishop of the Unitarian Church of Transylvania is “our” bishop, this one of our historical Church to which we are voluntarily attached, with complete freedom, by the heart, without statutory obligation. He does not order us, but he is for us at the head of our Church, that to which we refer. The Proclamation of Avignon of August 2006, signed by unitarian Christian associations of Europe and Black Africa, precisely mentions this bond which is not allegiance, but about the affection order :
“The Unitarian Christians affirm their solidarity with respect to their historical Churches which maintained this faith. They have in particular greatest reverence with respect to the hungarian speaking Churches which, for them, are first in the order of the consideration to the direction where heard, in connection with the Jews, Paul in his epistle with the Romans (chap. I, 16) and Johann at Patmos in the Apocalypse (chap. VII, 4-9). This deep respect compared to their seniority is voluntary and filially; it is by no means a subordination nor a duty of obedience; these historical Churches not giving any order besides. ”.
In contact with Arpad Szabo, I learned the difference that there was between the unitarian bishops and the catholic bishops. The first are elected within the framework of synod and their authority remains collegial, registered in a episcopal council where the decisions are made in a collective way. Sobriety is of rigour, including at the time of the worships where the bishop takes a simple dress of Pasteur. Although chief of the Church, it remains among his equal and does not dissociate himself any. With his retirement of Pasteur, the synod elects another successor. His role is comparable with the lutheran bishops and the intendants of the calvinist Churches, also with the Anglican bishops except the liturgical pump that those preserved of their catholic past. It goes without saying, under these conditions, the name of “Monseigneur” is not appropriate. The English-speaking said “Bishop Arpad Szabo”; me I said “my bishop” and I testified my reverence to him. He spoke a little French, but it is especially via his administrative secretary, the reverend Gyero David which we communicate. I preserve to him a badge preciously carrying the blazon of his Church, that it gave me in Oberwesel.
By his imposing presence with the beautiful silver plated hair and his benevolent personality, he represented his Church well. He is a friend who left us and who remains present in our hearts and our memories.