Tag Archives: faith in the public order

Hungary changes constitution, status of some religious orders changes in the law

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)

US Commission on International Religious Freedom could cease in November

US Congressman Frank R. Wolf, 72, (Virginia 10th District) proposed the bill in 1998 which created The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a bi-partisan US Federal commission, appointed by the US President to advise him and Congress on matters pertaining to the freedom of religion. The CIRF reports to Congress and the State Department, is now in jeopardy.

It’s work is research and advocacy for freedom and human rights. It looks at the practice of religion and it’s freedom to exist.
HOWEVER, there is one senator who is blocking funding, anonymously. We need to write to our senators. We need to speak out!!!
After November 18 the Commission may go out of business.
Congressman Wolf thinks that if the bill is passed, Obama will sign the bill. But truth be told, the President is not really in favor the Commission’s work.
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Maronite Bishop admonishes Obama for rebuff of Patriarch Béshara Raï

Béshara Raï, 71, is making a pastoral visit to the Maronite Catholic
communities in both US eparchies from 4 to 23 October 2011. His Beatitude will visit Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon  and the Eparchy of St Maron of Brooklyn.

President Barack Obama has roundly refused to meet the Patriarch. Bishop Gregory openly makes the case that it is a mistake of the current administration to ignore His Beatitude’s visit to the USA.

Béshara Raï, was elected on March 15, 2011 as the 77th Patriarch of the Maronite Church.

Bishop Gregory’s letter:

Patriarch Rai2.jpg

September 30, 2011

Dear Mr. President:

I am terribly
disappointed with the rebuff of Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai who is the Catholic
leader of the Maronites worldwide and one of the most respected Christian
leaders in Lebanon and the Middle East . The motto of his coat of arms
reflects his personality and is call for “communion and love.” He has been
trying to achieve what no other Middle Eastern political or a religious leader
has been able to do: meet others with respect and love, not take sides,
and build bridges to a future that will hopefully lead to peace and happiness
for all people in the Middle East.

Muslim and Christian groups have all found
in him a real father, a Patriarch.  Because he has spoken out expressing
his concern for the future of Christians in the Middle East , he has been
rebuffed by you and your Administration. It is pure hypocrisy for the
leader of the free world to refuse to meet with Patriarch Rai especially since
the Prime Minister of Israel can come and completely disregard essential parts
of a peace plan and still be given a warm welcome, and the King of Saudi
Arabia, where Christians have no freedom whatsoever, can be received with highest
honors. Mr. President, you are ignoring the plight of Christians in the Middle

Patriarch Rai’s warning about the future of Christians in Syria is not
taboo. Christians are in a state of peril in the same way that Christians of
Iraq were a few years ago when two thirds of them migrated out of the country
and are still not protected to this day. To say the Patriarch supports
dictators and sides with terrorists is pure nonsense. With his own unique
charisma, Patriarch Rai has reached out to all Lebanese with whom he has to
live side-by-side. It is a beautiful outreach, one that is uniquely his,
without having to be beholden to anyone.  He speaks with love and tempers
the divisive, hateful talk of many. He gives hope

A new day is dawning in the
Middle East. The Arab Spring is happening with little vision for the
summer that will ensue.  Mr. President, you do not have to agree on
everything with Patriarch Rai, but there is no need to avoid or rebuff
him.  By doing so, you are showing your disrespect for him and for all
Christians of the Middle East.

Mansour, Gregory John.jpg+ Gregory J Mansour

Bishop of the Eparchy of
Saint Maron of Brooklyn

Irish government makes peace with Vatican

“The government of Ireland also welcomed the Holy See’s apology to the families and the shame the Vatican has felt. The Irish government concluded by saying that lessons had been learned and looks forward to a new dialogue.” 

Labor Day: “the Church has been and is on the side of the worker”

Pope Leo XIII small pic.jpgWhen Pope XIII published Rerum Novarum (On the Condition of Labour) in 1892, it was considered a brilliant piece of  thinking on the Church walking closely with the average man and woman because it demonstrated that in reality, once again, the Church situated herself in the reality of human existence: in the social, political and economic spheres with a keen recognition of human dignity; the protection of basic economic and political rights, including the right to a just wage and to organize associations or unions to defend just claims; the right to private property; the rights of labor over capital; the just organizations of society for the common good.


Pope Leo rejected not only a communistic philosophy but he did not ignore the basis of its appeal to workers and condemned the exploitative nature of the liberal-capitalist alternative. He wanted the Church on all levels to be engaged with the social order which slowly took shape in the later years of the 19th century and then in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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