At the new year the Hungarians passed a new constitution with some real changes that will affect the Church and other ecclesial communities, including non-Christian groups. The New York Times ran the article that outlines the changes giving the impression that even the Hungarians are unable to name all the changes. What caught my eye thanks to Brother Richard of OSB.org, when he first posted a note on his FB page that some venerable religious orders like the Benedictines and the Carmelites and a group like the Opus Dei are now downgraded in terms of the law. But why? What does the Hungarian government gain by doing such and what are the long-term implications for the Benedictines and Carmelites? Why weren't the states of the Dominicans and Jesuits changed? Some of what happened is noted here:
"With the new year, as the new constitution goes into effect, all petitions to the [Constitutional] Court lapse and it becomes much harder for anyone to challenge this law -- or any other.
"But it is worth lingering on the newly re-enacted law on the status of churches because it is one of the places where we can clearly see the effects of the new constitutional order on the protection of constitutional rights. What does the law on churches do? It creates 14 state-recognized religions, and decertifies the rest. On January 1, over 300 denominations lose their official status in Hungary -- including their tax exemptions and their abilities to run state-funded schools. While most of the denominations are tiny, many are not. Among the religions that will no longer be able to operate with state approval are all versions of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Baha'i, as well as many smaller Catholic orders including the Benedictines, Marists, Carmelites, and Opus Dei, and a number of major Protestant denominations including Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Methodists, and all but one of the evangelical churches. One each of the orthodox, conservative, and liberal Jewish synagogues are recognized; but all other Jewish congregations are not" (The Unconstitutional Constitution).
A Benedictine from Hungary writes that "religious orders are still part of the Catholic Church in my country and being as such they will maintain their legal status -- all other problematic constitutional points nothwithstanding." (see OSB.org)