Hungarian Rector in Romania Assaulted

CLUJ–NAPOCA, Romania (CNS) — The rector of a seminary for Hungarian–speaking Catholics preparing for the priesthood was beaten and briefly hospitalized after an altercation with three young Romanians leaving a nearby nightclub.

Father Zoltan Olah was attacked outside the seminary in Alba Iulia shortly after midnight June 19 after calling police to report that three men were throwing rocks at windows of seminary buildings and that several windows had been broken, including some in the chapel.

The young men also were shouting in Romanian that ethnic Hungarians should leave the country, Father Olah told Catholic News Service June 22.

He said he was assaulted with a baseball bat when he stepped outside to photograph the men. Another unidentified man affiliated with the seminary who had joined the priest to photograph the damage also was attacked, Father Olah added.

The priest told police he throught the photos would help investigators identify the vandals.

Father Olah said he lost consciousness after being hit in the head and falling.

The second man, who was unidentified, also was hit.

Both injured men were helped by another group of young men leaving the same nightclub. The second group assisted in the capture of one of the assailants, Father Olah said.

Police later caught the other two offenders. All three faced criminal charges.

Father Olah was treated at a nearby hospital, where he received several stitches, and was released.

In a joint statement June 22, the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia and the seminary expressed sorrow over the incident and pointed to the fact that the attack occured on a street called Peace.

Ethnic Hungarians in Romania total about 1.6 million in a country of about 21.9 million people. Romania is home to about 1 million Roman Catholics, a majority of them Hungarian.

The seminary is the only one serving Hungarian–speaking Catholics in Romania.

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