Quite a story: the parish priest and the mailman

On the whole I'm eagle-eyed when it comes to Hungarian news, but I missed this juicy story although it happened last Friday. Most likely because Hungarian news sites divide news into several categories, and the crime blotter is a separate category. Usually I don't have time to read it.

There is a tiny village called Győrvár. Although one might think that it is somewhere near the city of Győr, it is in fact in Vas County, close to the Austrian border. Its name has nothing to do with Győr; rather, it honors a thirteenth-century gentleman whose given name was György (George). The village has only 700 inhabitants and from the map it has about three or four streets. The inhabitants are Catholic, and the only church is a neo-baroque church named after Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. The parish priest is Ferenc Dakó; from the video I saw he is a burly man who looks close to sixty. The village might be small, the parish priest's pay might be low, but it seems that our priest has a full-time housekeeper. The church also had a full-time sexton at one time by the name of Ferenc Tóth. However, about a year ago someone broke into the church, and the parish priest accused the sexton of having something to do with the crime. The sexton was fired. He subsequently got a job as a postal clerk delivering mail. The relationship between Dakó and Tóth has been very bad. The priest threatened Tóth several times and the postal worker even went to the bishopric of Szombathely to complain, but he was told to solve his problem alone.

Then came November 7, Friday. The mailman delivered mail at the parsonage, including the weekly Szabad Föld (Free Soil). As it turned out, the parish priest was expecting Keresztény Élet (Christian Life). He wasn't a subscriber to Szabad Föld. [Actually, according to the weekly's records he was a new subscriber, but he claims not to have any recollection of subscribing.] Once he realized the alleged mistake, he got into his car, housekeeper in tow, and went after the postal worker who by then was riding his bicycle a few blocks away. They got out of the car, the priest knocked the man off his bicycle into a ditch, and then with all his strength (which must be considerable in view of his physique) began to kick him repeatedly. All told seventeen times. Eventually, the housekeeper managed to stop the priest from doing further damage to the hapless man whose head was his attacker's main target although even his legs looked pretty bad to me. He sustained a mild concussion. By now he is recuperating at home.

The villagers are divided on the issue. There are some who try to defend their priest. He held mass yesterday during which he apologized and tried to explain himself away. Apparently the number of people in church was about the same as on any Sunday. Some of Dakó's words in connection with the incident were enigmatic. Or at least I can't make head nor tails of them. For instance: "Let's not play with each other because it is possible that things don't end the way we expect or the way we would like." Others, most likely not in church last Sunday, have a less charitable view of the whole thing. According to them, some of the villagers didn't quite approve of the priest slapping around their children in Sunday school.

The police chief of the Vasvár district where Győrvár belongs questioned Dakó not as an accused but as a witness. (Another interesting twist in Hungarian practice!) Apparently he can, and let's hope he will, change the charge. And if that is the case, because the mailman is considered to be a person who performs official duties, the maximum sentence can be three years in jail. Somehow I don't think that will happen. As for the bishop. Well, he hasn't made up his mind yet.