"We are Catholic Romanians, not Csangos!"

For the first time in history, Magyar and Romanian specialists sat down at the green table on July the 6th 2002 in Iasi at the international seminar "The origin, the language and culture of Csango". For the first time Romanian and Magyar researchers sit together face to face trying to settle the old dispute: are the Csangos Romanians or Magyars? Although late, this discussion wouldn’t have made it to the green table if the Magyar counterpart wouldn’t have gone to the European Council Parliamentary Assembly trying to claim the Moldavian Csangos were Magyar. The result? The 1521 recommendation through which the Romanian state is almost summoned to support the tragic situation of the csango villages in Moldavia giving them certain rights such as education and religious service in Magyar language. The moral author of this recommendation is the Finnish lady Tytti Isohookana Asunmaa, European Council reporter on the cultural Csango matter, herself being present that day at the seminar. Even from the beginning of  the debates Mrs Asunmaa declared for the uralic origin of Csangos – family of peoples related to the Hungarian and the Finnish ones – claiming that Csangos are the descendants of some Finnish soldiers who settled in Moldavia in the 17th century(!). not a word about the possible Romanian origin of the Csangos! No wonder, since the Finnish Member of Parliament dodged all contact with the local authorities listening only to the complaints of the Csango Magyar Association from Moldavia which is a section of DUMR (The Democratic union of the Magyars from Romania). 

The elegant conference hall of World Trade Center from Iasi was filled with great disputes."Csangos = Magyars = all the citizens of Roman catholic religion in Moldavia ". This was the thesis all Magyar researchers sustained with rather fanatical arguments instead of scientific ones. Since Romanians have been Orthodox then all the Roman Catholics belonged to another ethnic group, meaning the Magyar nation. Vilmos Tanczos, lecturer at the University Babes Bolyai from Cluj Napoca, presented to the audience a map full of tens of Moldavian cities supposed by founded by Magyar soldiers who watched the eastern borders of the Hungarian Kingdom. Jaszvasar (Iasi), Barlad (Bârlad), Szeretvasar (Radauti), Husz (Husi), Bake (Bacau), Szucsava (Suceava) and many others, all of them being, in the opinion of the Magyar researcher, Magyar cities, founded by Magyars. Even the date of the censuses (at the one in 2002 only 1266 people declared themselves Csango, a small part of the Catholics of the diocese of Iasi which gathers approximately 265000people) have been considered fake, always deformed, always tricked by some abusive assimilation political strategies.

Calm, using scientific proof easy to verify, the Romanian participants stood firmly on their positions. Thus , professor doctor m. d. Stelian Dumitracel from the Filological Institute Al Philipide from Iasi demonstrated that the first documentary registration of the settlement being of Latin origin Villa Iassyorum. Anton Cosa claimed to be surprised by the name of seminar itself: I consider using the term Csango to describe an ethnical group unjustified. We must speak about the catholics in Moldavia, not about the Csangos in Moldavia as they don’t represent an ethnical group, but a religious one. \

Unexpectedly, the end of the seminar was to come the second day when all the participants lead by Mrs Asunmaa and three minibuses filled with members of the press stated out towards two of the most representative Csango villages in Moldavia: Butea and Sabaoani, in order to prove "on the spot" all the things discussed the day before. What they saw there was beyond their expectations. Dressed in their traditional Romanian costumes, riding glorious horses, the Csangos came to welcome the guests caring Romanian flags. On the both sides of the road there were kilometers of fences covered with traditional Romanian rugs and hundreds, thousands of peasants shouting that they are and have always been Romanian. Absolutely all the people from Butea declared that in their village have never been a single Csango and the word itself is an offense to them as no one in this settlement speaks Magyar. Petre Demeter  greeted the guests with a big sign which said "We are Romanian, not Csangos! Neither my father or my grandfather have ever heard a single Csango word in this village. How can somebody come and convince us that we are what we are not in fact?" Mrs Asunmaa was accompanied to the church by a group of women who tried to show her that their costumes were Romanian and tried to tell her the same thing by using different gestures.

Almost two thousand people kneeled behind Monsignor Gherghel and Priest Alois Damoc saying together the prayer "Our Father". From the stage near the cathedral, the principal of the school from Butea, Greta Predoi, told all the guests that "People from Butea feel, they are and have always been Roman Catholic Romanians!" and everybody started to sing along the national song "We are Romanians!" .

Sabaoani, the village with over ten thousand people is undoubtedly the biggest catholic community in Moldavia. They said that there wouldn’t have been so many people gathered there not even if the Pope himself had come. The same colored rugs, the same traditional costumes worn by almost eight thousand Moldavian peasants and not a single word about being Csango. "Sabaoani, we are Romanians" said a big sign set in front of the stage in the festival hall of the village where the guests sat. There the priest of  the village told everybody that "The name Csango or Bozgor  addressed  to us constitutes a great insult which brings a lot of grief in our Romanian hearts. What a paradox! To be proud of being Romanian and others to come and tell you and speak for yourself and say that you are Csango…"

Bacau, the 1st and the 2nd of June 2006, the international scientific conference "Csangos from Moldavia-Endangered Culture and heritage". Event organized with Hungarian funds, with guests that spoke exclusively about what the Hungarians expected. This time, the conference was peaceful - nobody  contradicted anybody. Surprisingly….

Here are some declarations of the speakers:

  • Meinolf Arens, historian at the Hungarian Institute in Munich: "we can only understand the real origin of the Csangos by excluding the myth of the Dacian – Roman continuity on the territory of the nowadays Romania. Only by analyzing in parallel the migrations of the Romanians and Magyars in Moldavia we can prove that Csangos are and have always been Magyar ." 
  • Dioszegy Laszlo, member of the curator of the Foundation Teleki Laszlo from Budapest – "the Romanian researchers didn’t come today at the conference because they are afraid of something. Not only those who declare themselves Romanian, but others who spectacularly denied the official Romanian position at the conference in Budapest, that is the denial of the existence of an ethnical Magyar minority in Moldavia";
  • Varga Andrea – historian  from Budapest, who, according to her own declarations, has been studying for more than 10 years the archives from Bucharest – " the book of Dumitru Martina which introduced in the conscience of the people in the ‘70s the thesis of the Romanian belonging of the Csango is a work of misinforming of the Security, as he used to be an officer of UM 0544 – Misinformation Service. The Security recruited 80% of the Catholic priests and determined them to cooperate."
  • Hegyeli Attila, responsible for educational problems in the Magyar Csangos Association of Moldavia (MCAM) "the Romanian authorities try to stop the process of introducing Magyar language in Csango county. Recently the Education Inspectorate of Bacau tries to prevent this process by approving less teacher positions than stated by the law and hires teacher only with a year contract so they cannot get a salary for the summer";
  • Iancu Laura, member of MCAM Magyar Csango original from the village Arini county Bacau, emigrated to Hungaria, Budapest: "We , the Csangos, are marginalized here in Romania because we are Magyar. If we go to Hungaria, it is very difficult to us because, due to the abusive actions of the Romanian state authorities we don’t have any schools un Magyar language and we almost forget this language. Those who get to learn in the schools from Hungaria, even if they don’t come home anymore, mustn’t forget to serve their community by all means possible."

    Finally, we should remember Dumitru Martinas’s brother, priest Martinas. His statement made in a study from 1942 says: "It is time that we shouldn’t disrespect the history and the realities and give the Moldavian catholics the right to be called and  to be real Romanians. Their love for the people and country shouldn’t be insulted anymore, they shouldn’t be pointed out to be Hungarians and foreigners through language and school books. They shouldn’t carry the unpleasant nickname of Csangos as Csangos do not exist, the only ones who exist are the Catholic Romanians".