clause to the existing legal prescription that boys were to follow their father's religion and girls their mother's. If Catholic priests ignored this regulation and accepted children into their denomination contrary to the terms of the legislation, they were punished. This stirred up severe unrest both in society as a whole and among the Catholic clergy, which led to heated debates in parliament and the public arena, as well as to an exchange of letters between Pope Leo XIII and the Emperor Franz Joseph I, and finally to a governmental crisis. In the end, Franz Joseph I, as constitutional monarch, was forced to allow the bills to be passed by parliament after two infusions of Pair-Schub, and even to give his assent to them. The laws that were passed (GA xxxi, xxxii, xxxiii of 1894, and xlii of 1895) related to the introduction of obligatory civil marriage and the maintenance of registers, the possibility of divorce, and the promise of Catholic baptism and upbringing for children of mixed marriages (Reversale), together with the official proclamation of Judaism as a recognised religion.
This great defeat suffered by the Catholic Church in parliament and in society when the interdenominational laws were passed finally shook the remnant of the Catholic camp out of its lethargy. Political events convinced Count Nandor Zichy that a political party was needed in order to defend Catholic interests, and so, in 1895, a Catholic People's Party ('Neppart') was founded on the model of the German Bavarian People's Party. In 1896 it already had seventeen MPs, and in 1901 the number rose to twenty-five. The party's manifesto included not only the revision of the interdenominational laws, but also a number of social laws in the spirit of the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891), the establishment of true Catholic autonomy, and the recognition of the legitimate claims of ethnic minorities within the country. However, the manifesto failed to address the most fundamental problem facing Hungary, the long overdue land reforms. Unfortunately the party disintegrated after it became involved in constitutional wrangling. It officially ceased to exist in 1918, when it merged with the Christian Socialist Party.
The complicated question of ethnic minorities also affected the Catholic Church in Hungary. After the War of Independence, the government in Vienna had, without Hungary's participation, established two ecclesiastical provinces - Zagreb for the Croats in 1852 and Fogaras for the Uniate Romanians in 1853 - in order to build up a counterbalance to the troublesome Hungarians, and Vienna also appointed several bishops who proceeded to promote Slovak and German interests. At the same time as the settlement in 1867, Law xliv was passed, which promised the ethnic minorities equality, independent administration and cultural autonomy. However, pan-Slavic or pan-Germanic
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