the Deak party's policies and suppressed both the Ultramontane and radical liberal tendencies among the clergy. The bishops and leading Catholics envisaged the creation of 'Catholic autonomy' as the solution to these problems. This was to be a kind of self-administration for the church, in the shape of an organisation of clergy and laypeople that would regulate all the church's affairs including schools, societies, property, etc., with the exception of strictly ecclesiastical and dogmatic matters. After lengthy deliberations, which were accompanied by strongly worded campaigns in the press both for and against, a draft was finally completed in 1869. However, a parliamentary committee put it on hold (ad acta), and it was only taken up again in 1893. The failure of the attempt at autonomy was due to a number of reasons, above all the aversion of the Roman curia and the hierarchy to strong lay involvement in church affairs. The First Vatican Council (1869-70) also did nothing to encourage the idea of ecclesial autonomy. With just one exception, the Hungarian bishops rejected the proclamation of papal infallibility as a dogma, as they clung firmly to the notion of the 'magisterium petro-apostolicum', the infallibility of the teaching of the whole church as represented by the pope and the bishops. They, together with the other opponents of the dogma, left Rome a day before the final vote, as they were of the opinion that a valid definition could not be reached in the absence of the necessary consensus moralis unanimis. Although their objections failed, the contributions of the fifteen Hungarian attendees at the Council were not a wasted effort. The Hungarian government's approach to its bishops in Rome, threatening the sequestration of the church's entire wealth, achieved nothing, but the government did reinstate the 'right of placet': the bishops could not promulgate any announcements from Rome - including the resolutions of the Council - without state permission. On two occasions this led to clashes in parliament, but the Hungarian bishops behaved circumspectly towards both Rome and the government, and thereby ensured that the Old Catholic movement did not take root in Hungary.
One consequence of the entrenched and turbulent relationship between parliament and the Catholic Church was the drafting of a bill that included a whole set of new administrative measures, amongst others the introduction of obligatory civil wedding ceremonies, the abolition of several church holidays, the change of legal status of religious orders from that of a single 'person' to that of a private society, and absolute state control over church schools. At the same time, the bill maintained the royal rights ofpatronage, including the 'right of placet'. Fortunately for the church, the government did not obtain a majority, and the new Protestant prime minister, Kalman Tisza, altered the course that had been taken, as he needed the support of the Catholic clergy
Was this article helpful?