VERITAS Research Institute for History and Archives

VERITAS Debate Nights

03 March 2020

At 6 PM on March 3rd, we host the fifty-first installment of the VERITAS Debate Nights series at the VERITAS home office on Zsil Street. The title of the debate is Kulturkampf 125 Years Ago: The Church Policy Reform Package. Historian / Senior Lecturer Norbert Csibi (University of Pécs) and our colleague Ádám Schwarczwölder familiarize the audience with the topic, while VERITAS Subject Team Leader Róbert Hermann leads the discussion.

The participants discuss the Kulturkampf that led to the Church policy reform package in 1894-1895. The legislative road taken was bumpy but ultimately resulted in Acts XXXI-XXXIII of 1894 and XLII-XLIII of 1895, respectively. It was at that time that registration of birth, marriage and death was introduced at the state level in Hungary. Theretofore, it had been accomplished through the Church. The new laws also made civil marriage mandatory and determined to which denomination children of religiously-mixed parents belonged. The reforms also provided citizens the option of belonging to no denomination. Judaism was elevated to equal status with the (established) denominations of Christianity, while the legislative changes also made the founding of new denominations possible.    

These significant liberal reforms both inspired and divided society at the end of the 19th century. The Roman Catholic Church was obviously the biggest detractor of the proposed changes as they would weaken its authority, which dated back centuries. The question of reform also divided the politicians, many of whom could not reconcile the reforms with their own religious feelings and/or did not wish to fly in the face of the influence of the religiously conservative aristocracy. The Church policy question also temporarily rearranged the Hungarian parliamentary parties along the liberal-conservative political spectrum, which were traditionally sorted by issues of public law. Moreover, as the Kulturkampf was winding down, the Catholic People’s Party was founded (in order to fight for the rights of the Catholic Church).

Why did the Kulturkampf occur when it did? How successful was the Wekerle administration in pushing through its proposals? From a Church and theological perspective, what concerns did the new legislation raise? How did the various denominations try to defend themselves? To what extent did the political spectrum rearrange itself? What convinced the deeply religious Franz Joseph to finally give his blessings to the new laws? What role did Lajos Kossuth’s stance play in the decision-making? What about his death, which occurred at the time of the parliamentary debates? How was society transformed as a result of the new legislation? These are just some of the questions the participants wish to answer.      

Location: VERITAS Research Institute and Archives, Zsil utca (Street) 2–4, Budapest

Date: 6 PM on (Tuesday) March 3rd, 2020

A few days after the event, photography and video of the event will be made available on the VERITAS website. Please be informed that photographs and videos of earlier VERITAS Debate Nights may also be accessed in archived format on our website.

The event is sponsored by NKA (National Culture Fund of Hungary)


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Pictures of the event