Hungarian universities and Hungarian civil society have been currently in a special case, suffocating under the pressure of arbitrary government intervention and centralisation of political power. About the reaction of Hungarian churches to our problems, I can tell you, that we cannot experience any sympathy or understanding from them as institutions.
On the contrary, the Catholic University of P. Pázmány enjoys special privileges. For example, there is a government programme of excellency, advertised to academic institutions. The results of Pázmány University (measured in terms of international rankings, scores achieved, based on citation indices, etc.) cannot be compared to a few leading State universities (e.g., L. Eötvös University of Budapest, Corvinus University of Budapest). The Pázmány University is also invited to take part in the public programme of excellency in academic activity, however. The argument for this is that the Pázmány University deems to be internationally recognised, because of a special treaty made between the Hungarian government and the Holy See. This treatment of the government looks to be plainly discriminatory against secular universities. Unfortunately, the Catholic church leaders are unintelligent and covetous enough to accept these undeserved privileges, not taking into account that they are losing the remnants of their prestige.
Special attention must be given to the current case of Hungarian churches. May I ask you to take a short look at the legal case discussed before the ECtHR in Strasbourg. In this case the Hungarian government has been condemned for various reasons because of the rude infringement of the freedom of conscience and freedoms of association.
Major topics discussed in the case are: de-registration of the applicant religious communities; possibilities of re-registration of the applicant communities; possibilities of the applicant communities to enjoy material advantages to manifest religion and cooperate with the State in that regard; violation of Article 11 read in the light of Article 9 of ECHR. The big issue was to persecute Evangéliumi Testvérközösség (Hungarian Evangelical Fellowship), a methodist church that has been eminent in the recent twenty years in vigilantly taking care about the poor, identifying deep poverty and segregation. They have been deprived of their status of church, losing the public funds used to finance their homeless care and educational institutions. Besides, it is the principal problem in Hungarian law that public registration of a church is not decided before a court, but by the parliament, taking a political resolution.
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