The agreement between the Hungarian State and the Reformed Church in Hungary has been signed by representatives of both the government and the Church, as Reformatus.hu reported. The declaration was signed by prime minister Viktor Orbán, bishop István Bogárdi Szabó and lay Minister Pál Huszár.
The agreement renews the treaty of 1998 concerning the relationship between the government of Hungary and the Hungarian Reformed Church. István Bogárdi Szabó stated that the agreement is fair, and it was the result of long preparations and debates.
He added that this solid agreement will define the common work of state and church, which influences the life of the Hungarian people. The renewal was necessary because a lot of changes occurred since 1998, like Hungary’s joining the European Union, which created an entirely different legal environment. 19 years ago, they mainly focused on giving the Church compensation, in exchange for its properties it was deprived of during the past regime. The current agreement emphasizes the issues of higher education, healthcare, society and convergence.
The extension of the Church’s activity in social and public services also justified the reestablishment of the bond between religious and secular institutions.
From right to left: Viktor Orbán, István Bogárdi Szabó and Pál Huszár. MTI Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák
The document declares that the government gladly acknowledges the Reformed Church’s wider scale of operation in protecting families, children and the youth, or doing healthcare, cultural and educational work. It also approves the Church’s efforts in organizing public life and conserving Hungarian culture beyond the borders of the country. On the other hand, the Church admits that the government had done much for involving the Church in public services by providing resources for development and religious education.
The government declares that they provide special rights for the Church in order to help their charitable activity.
These activities include the establishment and operation of institutions dealing with charity, healthcare, diaconate, family and sports. The Church also helps preserving monuments, revealing and extending collections.
The government ensures the Church that their charitable work will be supported and funded the same way as the similar institutes, governmental and municipal alike. Their institutions’ employees will receive their wages under the same conditions as the governmental and municipal institutions.
The government also supports the Church’s religious activities. The Reformed Church in Hungary is entitled to the offerings of 1 percent of taxes by the citizens.
The agreement states that the government will submit a bill to change the law for higher education, and they will propose Károli Gáspár Reformed University to receive the title of outstanding university.
The government also claimes that Pápa Reformed Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Academy of Sárospatak will be considered for the investigation of the requirements of declaring them universities of applied sciences. The agreement sets a bottom limit for the annual support given to the Church’s institutions by the government, which is 8.5 billion forints (about 27.3 million euros).
Finally, the document ensures the Church that the government will not submit any bills concerning the Church without prior discussions.