"We are finding our way in a communist society," a Hungarian Lutheran bishop told a gathering of Washington area pastors yesterday. "It is God's way, a narrow way, but I think that Christians all over the world have a narrow way . . . in your society too, I think."
Bishop D. Zoltan Kaldy, 65, who is president of the Lutheran World Federation as well as bishop of the Lutheran Church in Hungary, discussed the situation of the churches in Hungary at an informal luncheon here.
"It is not easy to be a Christian" in a society dominated by the "materialist ideology" of Marxism, he said, but he added that the situation in Hungary "is generally the best of the socialist countries."
Kaldy said although it has fewer members today, "in quality . . . the Lutheran Church in Hungary is stronger than before World War II . . . in love, in faith, in hope, we are stronger," because being a Christian in an atheist society involves "a decision," he said.
Kaldy, who was elected head of the 54 million-member Lutheran World Federation at the group's world assembly in Budapest last summer, is currently touring this country. He will preach tomorrow at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 E. Capitol St.
"A lot of people outside Hungary think we don't dare criticize our government," he said. "That's not true. We can and we do, from the pulpit" and in church publications, he said.
"When I say from the pulpit, 'God lives,' it is critical, because Marxism says that there is no God," he said.
Kaldy is a member of the Hungarian parliament, along with two Roman Catholics and one representative each from Reformed and free churches and the Jewish community.
In parliament, he said, "I am standing on my Christian basis. I speak freely . . . and it is no problem. If I can't speak freely, I shall leave."
He registered gentle annoyance at having been described in an American Lutheran publication as a "communist bishop." "We are not communist and we don't want to be communist, but we would like to be Christian in a communist society . . . The church has a wonderful task to build bridges between people," he said.