The Liberty of Religious Rights and Religious Education in the Frame of the State Legislation in Hungary

A comparative legal study

Scientific Essay, 2012

20 Pages



1.1. Introduction

1.2. The canonical education

1.3. Primer rights to found schools

1.4 Education in Hungary and in the USA

1.5. Neutrality at schools


1.1. Introduction

In this short essay, the authors would intend to present the possible opportunities of religious education in the frame of the state legislation. Based on the current legislative issues, every faithful is entitled to get the proper religious education related to his/her own belief. However, the scale of the religious congregations might be very wide, hence the state must create a frame to fit the small churches into it. On the other hand, only the historical churches are based upon appropriate hierarchical legal structures, which of course, could be fitted into the legal frames. Therefore, it is highly recommended to deal with the Catholic legislation, and then opening up the scope towards the other historical as well as smaller churches.

1.2. The canonical education

According to the present canonical legislation, the Catholic Church is free to found any kind of school or institution. This means, that the Code simply claims the right of the Church, proclaiming that the Church, as the possessor of universal mission is free and of right to found institutions for education.[1] Moreover, this canon notes that these schools can wear the name catholic only if the church authority gives written permission. Normally, in addition, a catholic school is directed by the authority or other legal persona iuridica. But what makes a catholic school special nowadays, and why do we need catholic schools?

Religious education is a fundamental element of a comprehensive educa­tion and upbringing. In more than a few countries, Catholic schools to this day of their existence to the fact that government schools do not guarantee this basic right, so that Catholic institutions of Catholic children their only opportunity to be reared in their faith.

However, Religious instruction and education form a fundamental respect of the identity of catholic schools even in countries where it is effected by public schools too.[2] It is just as securely anchored as any other school subject in sound didactics and methodology, can draw on qualified teaching aids and trained teachers and clearly distinct from, though supplementary to, parish catechesis. As such, the Educational Congrega­tion documents[3] treat it as an integral element of the Catholic School Project. From a perspective earned by practical experience and differentiated theory, these pro­nouncements may adhere to be rather general and unsystematic.

Never­theless, the mere fact that the Congregation has tried to define a general guideline for religions instruction in Catholic schools is connected to personal relevance. The 1979 bishop's Synod and the resulting Apostolic Exhortation, Catechesi Tradendae, laid down several principles of cc religious instruction. however, these fall far short truly defining its religious objectives and pedagogical methods in the present situation Therefore even if the outcome is not perfect, the attempt is remarkable enough in itself and is likely to meet a genuine need in some countries. It is vital to the catholic school education to keep religious instruction, with its independent status, from dwelling away into the limbo of a separate subject. In aiming for a synthesis of faith and culture, much depends on whether it can be integrated or not.[4] The training background of present teachers and the customary pedagogic approach do not have ideal conditions for this. There is thus a particular­ly pressing need for improvements in this area.

However, it is not forgotten that Catholic schools are affected by the challenges which typically confront faith and Christian living in a plural secular society. For this same reason, the striving to turn school into a realm of Christian living becomes all the more important. For many children and young people no longer have a continuous relationship with their parish, school faces the double challenge of giving them access to the sacraments and opening the door to their own participation in local parish life.

1.3. Primer rights to found schools

After defining the primer right to found schools, the canons talk about those who are responsible for founding and controlling them. Moreover, the canon names the appointment of religious teachers and list the key features which all teachers must meet. As we have already seen it before, the key figure in this process is the diocesan bishop and as for appointing religion teachers the local ordinary has the right to act. What are the conditions for being employed as a religion teacher? What is the mission of a catholic school, what are the principles of religion education?

We must be ready to repeat the basic essentials over and over again, so long as the need is present. We need to integrate what has already been learned, and respond to the questions which come from the restless and critical minds of the young. We need to break through the wall of indifference, and at the same time be ready to help those who are doing well to discover a "better way", offering them a knowledge that also embraces Christian wisdom. The specific methods and the steps used to accomplish the educational philosophy of the school will, therefore, be conditioned and guided by an intimate knowledge of each student's unique situation.[5]

1.4 Education in Hungary and in the USA

The more the members of the educational community[6] develop a real willingness to collaborate among themselves, the more fruitful their work will be. Does anyone think that there are real education communities in the field of religious education? In the USA, either in UK and Germany, we have already experienced educational workshops, but all of these worked separately. For instance in Hungary, there are not such workshops functioning, thus, apart from some seminars for religion teachers, the principles of everyday practice is hardly ever discussed. Moreover, the key problem we would mention here is that there are not any international crossbars between these workshops, thus it is very difficult to maintain connection with religion teachers in the world. Even when the Internet is open and getting to be available for greater part of the society, it is still a key problem to discuss pedagogical as well as practical affairs with other religion teachers Achieving the educational aims of the school should be an equal priority for teachers, students and families alike, each one according to his or her own role, always in the Gospel spirit of freedom and love. Therefore channels of communication should be open among all those concerned with the school. Frequent meetings will help to make this possible, and a willingness to discuss common problems candidly will enrich this communication. The daily problems of school life are sometimes aggravated by misunderstandings and various tensions. A determination to collaborate in achieving common educational goals can help to overcome these difficulties and reconcile different points of view. A willingness to collaborate helps to facilitate decisions that need to be made about the ways to achieve these goals and, while preserving proper respect for school authorities, even makes it possible to conduct a critical evaluation of the school - a process in which teachers, students and families can all take part because of their common concern to work for the good of all.[7]

The New Hungarian Constitution in Article VII (2) denotes that the Church and the Hungarian State work separately. This means that the Church cannot interfere into state affairs, and mutually the state is not interested in church discipline.[8] Parents, moreover, has the duty to find the mutual cooperation with the sate employee at a public school.[9] The school principals at catholic schools must provide the best and the most modern education, since the catholic school is supposed to keep up steps with public schools.[10]

It is obvious, for all this, that a state-owned school cannot correspond faith-addicted ideas and moral. Some experts, however, would like to highlight the importance moral education. Today however, still we could not speak about moral agenda at public schools, though many would like to initiate moral education.[11]

Most programs of moral education in the public schools, and virtually all character education programs, ignore religion. Of course, the same might be said of the entire public school curriculum - apart from history courses and historical literature read in English courses. The conventional wisdom of educators appears to be that students can learn everything they need to learn about whatever they study (other than history) without learning anything about religion. In the Hungarian and American deeply religious culture this has not gone unnoticed. Indeed, many religious conservatives are outraged by it, and they take the absence of religion from textbooks and the curriculum to imply hostility to religion. This has fueled the culture wars that now divide many communities, undermining the educational mission of our schools. Much of the culture-war debate about religion in public education has been framed in terms of the combat between two polarized groups: those religious conservatives who would restore prayer to school activities, add creationism to the curriculum, and drop sex education from it; and those liberals who would keep prayer out of schools, keep religion out of the curriculum, and keep sex education in it.[12] Battles in this culture war are fought regularly in courtrooms, direct-mail campaigns, local school board elections, and national politics.[13]


[1] LÜDICKE, K., 796/3; canon 803.

[2] ILGNER, R., The Catholic School Education Project. Aspects of Development of Catholic School Theory since Vatican Council II, in Seminarium 35 (1995) 425.

[3] CS 49-52, LC 56-59, RE 6G-97

[4] ILGNER, R., 426.

[5] KEVIN, S., Religion Teachers, New York, 2000, 23-45.

[7] KEVIN, S., 54.

[8] As professor Schanda notes it seems to be just a theoretical device. The state neutrality does not mean state ignorance, thus the state does not forget about the churches in her territory. Therefore, for instance, in Hungary the there is a sum for the churches in the state budget every year. (SCHANDA, B., Magyar Állami Egyházjog, Budapest 2000, 61; and SCHANDA, B., Világi jog az Egyházban – egyházjog a világi jogban?, in Kánonjog 1 (1999) 781.)

[9] canons 798-799.

[10] Nowadays, fortunately public schools must make up for catholic schools, since the quality of education is high above the average. Certain statistics show that even in Eastern-European countries catholic schools could provide wider view of education, and thus having greater respect amongst parents. Parents are continuously searching for places where they offspring could get moral, faith and adequate knowledge. (See

[11] SZÜDI, J., 3.

[12] In Hungary, for instance, prayer in school was only during the radical right regime (e.g. fascist rule), thus for 60 years prayer has been exiled from public schools.

[13] Still in Hungary, even within the frame of a history lesson, religion seems to be a “taboo” for teachers. Therefore, to do the best, they avoid talking about it. But can we agree to it?

Excerpt out of 20 pages


The Liberty of Religious Rights and Religious Education in the Frame of the State Legislation in Hungary
A comparative legal study
Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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In this short essay, the authors would intend to present the possible opportunities of religious education in the frame of the state legislation. Based on the current legislative issues, every faithful is entitled to get the proper religious education related to his/her own belief. However, the scale of the religious congregations might be very wide, hence the state must create a frame to fit the small churches into it.
talaber, state, legislation, hungary, religious, education, antaloczy
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Janos Talaber (Author)Péter Antalóczy (Author), 2012, The Liberty of Religious Rights and Religious Education in the Frame of the State Legislation in Hungary , Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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