Hungary updates agreement with Vatican

December 9, 2013


In 1997 Prime Minister Gyula Horn signed an agreement with the Vatican that granted numerous privileges to institutions operated by the Holy See in Hungary.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed agreement with the Vatican on 21 October of this year to reflect the Law on Religions passed in 2010 as well as the new Education Law adopted earlier this year.

The original agreement provided for Catholic educational institutions to receive the same government supports provided to public schools, and for Catholic colleges, universities, and theological seminaries to receive the same government subsidies as state-run institutions of higher learning.

Property belonging to the Catholic church was to receive the same “cultural” subsidies granted to similar state-run institutions. This refers to the operation and maintenance of monuments, artistic treasures, museums, libraries, and archives.  The state agreed to return Church properties seized during communism and to provide financial compensation for their use under communism.

The agreement extended a rule that allowed for a separate 1% charitable donation to be made to state-recognized churches.  In the case of the Catholic church a special condition was applied. If total 1% donations  benefitting the Catholic church fell below 1% of Hungary’s total income tax revenues, the government would ensure the amount donated to the Church up to .5% of Hungary’s total income tax revenues. (Later this amount was raised from .5% to .7%, and was recently raised from .7% to .9%).

On 21 October 2013 Hungary concluded a modified agreement with the Vatican–one bearing Viktor Orban’s signature rather than that of deceased former Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn.

The Hungarian government agrees to cover costs associated with teaching government-mandated “faith studies” by contributing enough to increase instructors’ salaries to the average for Hungarian teachers.

Hungary agrees to provide the same amount of funding for the creation and utilization of “faith studies” teaching materials as it does for state-mandated “ethics studies” materials, and to provide the same subsidies to private Catholic dormitories and student housing given by Catholic higher-education as it does to state educational institutions.

The number of students receiving government educational grants while attending Catholic schools, but not studying faith-related subjects, must reach at least 5% of the student body. The government and the Conferences of Hungarian Catholic Bishops will deliberate on this matter every four years.

The annual state scholarships given to Catholic institutions of higher-education will be no less than HUF 7.5 billion.

Students attending Catholic institutions are to receive the same scholarships, grants, and other financial aid, that are provided to students attending state-run schools.

Peter Pazmany University will become an “exclusive university”.

The state will provide scholarships for 2,500 students of “faith”.  Said students are to receive the same amount of financial assistance as students studying education.

Property belonging to the Catholic church in Hungary is to receive the same “cultural” subsidies granted to similar state-run property. This refers to the operation/maintenance of monuments, artistic treasures, museums, libraries, and archives.

The government agrees to transfer free of charge to the Papal Hungarian Church ownership of property belonging to the Rome-Hungary Institute (a government organization in Rome).

The state agrees to provide the Catholic church an amount equal to 1 percent of total revenues generated from Hungarian income taxes, regardless of whether people indicate their desire to donate to the Catholic church or not.

The annuities and compensation given by the Hungarian government to the church will be adjusted to reflect the changes in the Consumer Price Index.

The National Statistical Office’s reporting of government’s compensation to the Hungarian Catholic church in previous years (for properties not returned) will be adjusted to reflect any changes in the Consumer Price Index.  Starting in 2011, supplemental compensation for such properties was HUF 5.4 billion.

Referenced in this article:

Nyilvános a vatikáni szerződés módosítása. 8 November 2013

Idén kevesebbet kapnak az egyházak az szja egy százalékából, 17 September 2012

Draft Law # T/12975, Minister of Human Resources Zoltan Balog, November 2013