The Beginnings of Political Catholicism and Embourgeoisement in Hungary

The Beginnings of Political Catholicism and Embourgeoisement in Hungary from 1790 to 1848

(Megjelenés alatt: The Role of the Churches in the Modernisation of Society in the Pannonian Region in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Mogersdorf Symposium, 2001. Szombathely, 2002.)

'In the present political circumstances the clergy should make itself such a political factor which plays an important role in promoting the conservative affair. So that both the government and the Conservative Party will view us as an essential component. And it will happen if the clergy does not let itself frighten away from politics proving that it we have political power in our hand which we can not make use of which should not be despised.'

(From a protocol of a secret meeting held by politicking Catholics in 13th November 1846.)

This study is to be divided into two major parts. First I wish to discuss as the precedents of Political Catholicism the main tendencies of Church policy between 1790 and 1844 - especially in the 1830s and early 1840s - drawing a short parallel with certain European tendencies. Next I explain the term 'Political Catholicism' which frequently used in historical bibliographies and I try to disclose that this phenomenon was present in public life even before the revolution of 1848 trying to enforce the interest by active political participation.

The Hungarian Church policy in the first half of the 19th century should be analysed considering two basic characteristics:
Hungary was different not only from other European countries but also from the other provinces of the Habsburg Empire regarding its 18th century denomination composition due to the 150 years' Turkish yoke. Where as in most European countries either Catholic or Protestant ascendancy was the final consequence of the long-lasting religious wars, in 'Royal Hungary' the Roman and Greek Catholics altogether meant only 60 % of the population. (If Transylvania, Croatia and other countries belonging to the 'Hungarian Holy Crown' are included, this rate less than 50 %.) The Protestant - Calvinist and Lutheran - population was significant not only because of its population but also because Protestantism penetrated into the society so - through all strata Protestant nobility - it could forcefully represent its interests in the counties, in Parliament and in every layer of state administration. Although the Jesuits in the 18th century qualified Hungary 'Regnum Marianum', state authority had to bear in mind that they simply could not afford their to disregard Protestant interests or persecute the Protestants. By the last decades of the 18th century the Catholics had realised that Hungary could not be transformed into a Catholic state because of the significant Protestant and Greek Orthodox minority though the state guaranteed privileges for Catholics. So the political activity of the Catholic Church aimed not at suppressing other denominations but at strengthening its own privileges.
One consequence of this fact was that the Habsburg Emperor and Hungarian King Joseph II (1780-1790) redefined Hungarian Church policy by issuing his famous Order of Tolerance in 1781. The state not only declared with this that the Protestant and Greek Orthodox Churches having a lot of believers possessed the right for self-determination but also acknowledged that they were important factors of society and state. Several privileges of the Catholic Church still stayed in force. Joseph II approached the social activity of the different Hungarian Churches from the state's point of view. He took a strong hand over the right to appoint Church-leaders, burdened their inner relations with several regulations, dissolved monastic orders and he introduced a novel system for the financial support of the Catholic Church by setting up the Fundus Religionis (Found for Religion). All things considered Josephinist Church policy rested on the privileges of the Roman Catholic Church on equal rights for Protestants and Greek Catholics and on the extensive state authority to control and interfere in Church affairs.
The national diet convened after the death of the Emperor Joseph II passed 26th Article of 1791. It is no accident that Eastern European historiography calls the 'Age of Josephinism' which does not merely refer to the reign of Joseph II. But it is in use concerning the 19th century as well since the system of Church policy remained practically unchanged as Joseph II established it. Opinions differ as far as the closing date is the 'Age of Josephinism' is concerned. Some historians put it to 1846 when Pious XI became the pope, although the change on the papal throne did not change the church policy of the Habsburg Empire. According to others the closing date is 1848 but the fact is that by that time the executive power based on the work of new and independent Ministries had become the advocate for Josephinism. The imperial Concordat of 1855 cab only be viewed - with reservations, of course - as the end of this process, as Francis Joseph (1848-1916) did not consider it compulsory for himself. Neither the Compromise of 1867 nor the 'Church policy Acts' of 1894-1895 undermined the above mentioned foundation of the system. So it is not an overstatement to say that in Hungary the 'Age of Josephinism' as a category in Ecclesiastical policy lasted until the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire.
Coming back to the period between 1830 and 1848, the Hungarian historiography calls these years 'Reform Era' because the Liberals wanted to make an overall embourgeoisement by reforms and laws on the national diets held in Pozsony (Pressburg) before 1848. The growing influence of middle class values experienced its first great test of strength, which touched not only on the suppression feudal privileges, but also on exemptions from taxation, equality before the law, as well as the establishment of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and religion. The heated debates by well-known politicians over the changes remained constrained within the old framework of feudal politics where the main public forums were the county assemblies of the nobility and the national diets. On the other hand the content of the discussions was increasingly 'new.' The opposition gradually stepped beyond the traditional grievance politics of the estates and, while not neglecting Hungary's uniqueness, appropriated the program of Western liberalism.
The mentioned system of Josephinism greatly contributed to establishment of the ecclesiastical program of the Hungarian Liberalism. What was the two specific features of Church policy in this situation? First and foremost the idea of separating church and state, the total denominational equality and reciprocity could be drafted only concerning those questions which were not settled by the 26th Article of 1791. Moreover Josephinism in Hungary determined a specific course for the Protestants striving for rights: as a consequence on their emancipation granted by the ruler, the Calvinist and Lutheran Church leaders were loyal to Vienna until 1848 which meant that they hoped to protect their interest by gaining the benevolence of the Emperor and not by co-operating with the 'rebellious' Liberal opposition.
A speech of a Parliament Member held by a certain Ödön Beöthy on 9th January 1833 is usually considered as the overture of a new type Church policy or a new type of Ecclesiastical debates. Not only did he focus how to remedy the Protestant grievances but also indicated the need to create denomination emancipation. The legalisation of mixed marriages and conversions stood in the limelight of the debates of 1832-1836 diet. From that time not only did the Protestant fight for the rights of their Church and it was the novelty in the situation. No longer the members of two different Churches confronted during the debates over Church policy but the liberal reform-opposition battled against the conservative Catholic church leaders supported by the Vienna government - regardless of their denomination. The mentioned Beöthy was also a Catholic, not to mention the role of Ferenc Deák, István Széchenyi, Lajos Batthyány, József Eötvös - who in Hungary can most notably be included in the camp of the liberal Catholicism - and others in these debates.
The balance of powers of the diet made it obvious for the catholic bishops that the following diet might pass much more advantageous Acts for the Protestants than earlier. That's why first in 1836 the bishop of Rozsnyó, János Scitovszky (from 1838 he was the bishop of Pécs), and next in 15th March 1839 the bishop of Nagyvárad, Ferenc Lajcsák causing much greater stir issued circulars in which they prohibited for their priests to confirm those mixed marriages where the Protestant husband did not give a so-called reservation (reversalis). This reservation meant that the children to be born from the marriage would be baptised Catholic. Lajcsák's circular made the bigger reaction. In such cases of mixed marriages the bishop just permitted for the priests to acknowledge the marriage without ecclesiastical blessing and not in the territory of the temple but out in the churchyard without the compulsory ceremonial garment. The ecclesiastical name of this celebration was the passiva assistentia. (The fundamental ideas of this regulation was settled in Pious VIII's Breve in 25th March 1830.) The regulation caused protest throughout the counties and these grievances concerning religious issues largely contributed to the flames of opponitionism in the lower nobility. The depth and nature of the dilemma of making a new Act are appropriately illustrated by a comment at the Diet of 1839-40 from one of the leading conservatives Aurél Dessewffy: 'Justice for the Protestants has reached the point beyond which injustice for the Catholic cause begins.' Nevertheless, in the end of this diet was reached an agreement between the upper and the lower houses of the diet accepting a basically liberal law on the matter. But Ferdinand V postponed to confirm it in spring 1840. (Ferdinand was the first as an Austrian Emperor, but he was the fifth as a Hungarian king.)
As the last attempt of the bishop's conference József Lonovics, bishop of Csanád was sent to Rome to consult pope Gregory XVI. Nevertheless not longer after the closing of the diet they decided for definitive resistance: on 2nd July 1840 a common bishopric circular extended the regulation by Lajcsák's diocese over the Catholic church of Hungary. The indignation of the county nobility was bigger than the bishops expected. For the first time county of Pest (the 'leading county' of Hungarian Liberals) declared the ecclesiastical procedure of passiva assistentia unlawful, furthermore catholic priests demanding reservations were held out the prospect of legal procedure and conviction. By chance one of the first people concerned was the very popular leader of the opposition, Lajos Kossuth who was released from prison not long before. The Lutheran Kossuth wanted to marry a Catholic woman, Terézia Meszlényi, and Kossuth declared not to give a reservation for the parish priest of town Pest, where he lived. In the end of 1840 and the first months of 1841 most counties agreed the viewpoint of Pest. It was very interesting, characteristically the counties of Western Hungary with a Catholic majority (above all Vas and Zala led by Ferenc Deák) and the counties of the North Eastern Hungary (Borsod, Gömör, Abaúj, Zemplén, Túróc, Zólyom etc.) took the lead in representing the liberal viewpoint. Only counties of Esztergom and Heves influenced by the Catholic clergy, and the county of Sáros renowned for its extreme conservative atmosphere, stood by the Catholic Church. The centres of Esztergom and Heves were arch-bishopric seats, and the archbishops were the 'eternal Lord Lieutenants' of the counties. Other counties which includes a bishopric seat represented liberal viewpoints. (E.g. Veszprém, Temes, Zólyom, Baranya etc.) The overwhelming majority of the county nobility deemed the behaviour of the clergy as harmful and rose in clamorous protest against it. Yet, during the second phase of the dispute, when more radical ideas against the rights of the Catholic church began to circulate - Bereg county demanded civil marriage and a Hungarian Catholic church independent of Rome, while Borsod suggested the secularisation of ecclesiastical lands - the overwhelming majority of the county nobility refused its support to these initiatives.
The pope Gregory XVI wrote to the prelates of Hungary in the beginning of his encyclical 'Quas vestro': 'Since We must diligently safeguard the integrity of sound doctrine and practice, We cannot help but be displeased with whatever might imperil them. And yet what the church has always thought about marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics is more than abundantly clear.' The papal encyclical was issued in 30th April 1841 and brought by bishop Lonovics acknowledged the validity of mixed marriages served by Protestant pastors, but it insisted on reservations in case of marriages by Catholic priests. In other words the pope wanted to keep the regulation of passiva assistentia in Hungary. Thus it became another source of tension in spite of its apparent willingness to compromise. Both of the most important points of the bull - the acknowledgement of the mixed marriages before a Protestant pastor and the unchanged maintenance of the reversales - was against the regulation of current Hungarian laws, especially the 15th § in the Article 26 of 1791. The permission to announce the bull and the foreign attempt to interfere into Hungarian internal issues induced by the Catholic Church, gave the opportunity for the protest of several counties. The embittering argument was ended by the discussions of the 1843-1844 diet and the liberal Article 3 which changed the regulations of the mentioned 15th §. The new act prohibited the demand reservations, acknowledged the validity of mixed marriages by Protestant pastors retrospectively up to 1839 and made the conversion from Catholicism to Protestantism very formal. At the same time it is also true that during the Reform Era the church found itself under increasing attack from many more directions than earlier. This was so because Catholicism was coming into growing conflict in more and more areas with the reforms demanded by the spread of the embourgoisement. The Catholic church suffered serious embarrassment when Károly Wurda, the representative of the Győr (Raab) cathedral chapter, in unprecedented fashion at successive diocesan meetings during June of 1843 echoed the program of the opposition and proclaimed his allegiance to the concept of a 'free church in a free state.' Wurda was immediately recalled by his chapter, and his colleagues quickly distanced themselves from his views.
Of course, the European and especially Central European events influenced Hungarian Church policy. Two events in the 1830s affected the Hungarian liberal politicians encouragingly. Pope Gregory XVI in his encyclical 'Mirari vos' of 1832 and 'Singulari nos' of 1834 settled accounts with Liberalism and Lamennais and his followers presenting the alternative of Liberal Catholicism. Clemens August Droste-Vischering, the archbishop of Cologne clung to the rigid system of passiva assistentia and prohibited against the Prussian regulation of mixed marriages in 1837. He was arrested, as his follower, Martin von Dunin, bishop of Gnesen-Posen two years, too. These incidents indicated that European rulers did not tolerate the pope's interference in internal affairs. In the Austrian provinces the firm-handed Josephinist Chancellor, Klemens Metternich controlled the Church policy who carried on numerous negotiations with the Papacy. In 1843 a compromise was made: the pope accepted the control of the Austrian government over the church, but the will of the Holy See prevailed in dogmatic matters. Because of its close connection to Hungary, the debates over Croatian Church policy are worth mentioning. The Roman Catholic Church played an important part in the Croatian national movement, e.g. the bishop of Zagreb, George Haulik being the head of the government for years, enhanced the interconnection of state and church. (Formal he was a member of the Hungarian bishops' conference, and he represented very conservative viewpoints near Vienna court and against Hungarian liberalism.) At the diets in Hungary among the Croatian Liberals the demand to give permission for Protestants to settle in Croatia was born at that time.

The events of the 1830s and the beginning of the 1840s was a significant trial for endeavours of Hungarian liberal Church policy and with passing Article 3 of 1844 it also meant its victory. According to our hypothesis a process which showed a lot of striking similarities with the Political Catholicism evolving at the end of the 19th century could be witnessed between 1844 and 1848. Although we have to declare obviously these similarities do not mean identities, only clear parallels because of the different social and political circumstances between the middle and the end of the 19th century.
In Hungarian and Eastern European historiography the beginnings of modern political Catholicism are usually associated with the political party debates over religious policy during the second half of the nineteenth century. More precisely political Catholicism is tied to the law resulting from these debates. Signifying the growing influence of the middle class, the 1894-1895 law on religion made civil marriage mandatory, established birth certificates issued by the state, gave equal rights Jews, and provided guarantees for the free practice of religion in general. Although not without considerable political disagreement, these constituted the achievement of long standing liberal goals; and without any doubt the representatives of the Catholic church organised the staunchest resistance against them. Despite the Catholic protests the majority of the public supported the law of 1894-95, and the changes have stood the test of time. Nevertheless, the problems of state-church relations did not appear in Hungary for the first time during the later decades of the nineteenth century. It is important to recognise that the general tendencies of modern Hungarian political life began to emerge publicly at this time. For example, the first political parties appeared: in 1846 the Conservative Party and in 1847 the Opposition Party; and the various movements based on ideological considerations became ever more clearly defined. The centralists and the various young radical groups arising among town of Pest's intellectuals were also significant. The representatives of political Catholicism were present at this early date in the increasingly colourful tapestry of public life; and although they did not play any decisive role in the enactment of legislation, their appearance in Hungary's public life warrants attention and further consideration.
Most analysts have found the roots of the religious laws of the 1890s in the deliberations of the last estates' diet during 1847-48, or more exactly, arising from the deficiencies and consequences of that diet's 20th article. In agreement with a Benedictine historian Pongrác Sörös and others, I share the view formulated at the turn of the century, a view which has found few twentieth-century supporters, that disputes over religious policy emerging at the end of the nineteenth century, 'even in the modern sense,' arose from a much earlier period. Namely, beginning at this time and throughout the century that followed, the essential issue in the various concrete questions affecting church-state relations remained basically the same: the difficulties arising from the emerging civil state's conflicts and attempts to find accommodations with a Roman Catholic church that remained wedded to feudal political structures. The ecclesiastical historian, Gábor Salacz touched on the core of the matter when he noted, 'A cultural conflict develops when those subject to the state, or at least a significant portion of them, find it impossible to obey the laws and directives of the church and state at the same time. In short, the citizens in submitting to the laws and regulations of one unavoidably come into conflict with the those of the other.' This description is entirely appropriate for the situation of the Reform Era state and church.
We can briefly identify political Catholicism as a movement that began to organise when liberal political forces grew so much in strength that they achieved successes in influencing legislative and executive policy; and, based on the principles of civil society, the liberals attempted to rearrange the relationship between church and state. In opposition to these liberal forces, or in order to reduce their influence, the church no longer employed merely its traditional instruments in the struggle. In order to achieve its aims the church also tried to adapt to the changing rules of public life and initiate movements, such as political parties or organisations associated with them, that were tailored to the norms of civil society.
During the second half of the nineteenth century we can observe in opposition to liberal tendencies and the development of capitalist values the appearance of neo-conservatism and as a result of the 'cultural conflicts,' (in German: 'Kulturkampf') above all in Bismarck's Germany, and political Catholicism. The most obvious manifestation of the latter phenomenon in Hungary before the turn of the century was the formation and activity of the Katolikus Néppárt ('Catholic People's Party') as a force to counter the religious legislation of 1894-1895. Consequently only a few decades behind that of Western Europe, political Catholicism in Hungary could appear, in the words of the historian Jenő Gergely, who has examined from many perspectives the public role of Roman Catholicism, as a 'defensive reflex,' when the Catholic church felt that as a result of the legal equality created by the civil laws, it would be squeezed out of public life. At the same time it is important to realise that the seeds of this had appeared during the 1840s, and the 'defensive reflex' was even then set into motion.
We can also note that during the Reform Era not only the prelates, clinging to the status of Roman Catholicism as a state church, their privileges and close connections with the Habsburg court, opposed the Liberal political forces. During the 1840s a political tendency, similar in character the Catholic movement of the 1890s and even bearing the marks of forming a political party, began to emerge within the church. Its representatives had come to believe that under the new circumstances of public life the clergy alone was no longer able to defend effectively Catholic interests, and that new organisations needed to be formed in order to influence and gain the support of public opinion. The diet of 1843-44 played a key role in the formation of this concept. The fact that in this diet the liberal opposition could carry through the acceptance of a law concerning religion basically changed the role of the Catholic Church played in politics. The clergy (some bishops in the upper house and some canons in the lower house) recognised that the embourgeoisment which could not be delayed would fundamentally reshape the relations of the state and church. Just like the liberal Catholics in Western Europe they realised that the clergy should give new type answers to the challenges of bourgeois transformation otherwise the influence of the Catholic Church would decrease.
Even if we cannot pinpoint the inception of political Catholicism to any single date, there can be no doubt that in the course of the discussions held by the episcopacy and other church leaders at the Diet of 1843-44, most especially at the secret meeting of 27th October 1844, one can discern distinctly the outlines of a Catholic political program. By taking into account the requirements of the age for the exercise of political influence, the ecclesiastical leadership attempted to promote the interests of the church. During the course of the debates over religious policy in the second half of the 1830s and the first half of the 1840s many individuals, especially among the representatives of the cathedral chapters in the lower house of the diet, became convinced that in order effectively to assert the interests of the Catholic church, the mere declaration of Catholic dogma was insufficient. They got to know that not enough for them the invoking simply and ceremonially the authority of the church and its apostolic origins in order to condemn liberal ideas in general. It is important to recognise that the clergy, who as politically active Catholics in Hungary during the second half of the 1840s desired to assert the interests of Catholicism in political and social life, differed in neither their understanding nor in the content of their arguments from the positions represented by Gregory XVI and his rather conservative secretary Lambruschini. They were in fundamental agreement on all the major points, and they accepted the authority of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The new representatives of the Catholic political movements by this time wanted to find an accommodation with the middle class movements and come to terms with the social and political changes that had followed the French and Industrial Revolutions. Clinging to their privileges, the representatives of political Catholicism during the Reform Era, just as the papacy, condemned the growth of middle class culture in its entirety. At the same time and in their own interest the politically active Catholics did not object to employing the new instruments, modified to suit their 'image and likeness' which had been offered by liberalism and were also employed by the liberals.

How can we outline in 1840s the main goals and the strategy of the forerunners of the Political Catholicism engaged in politics?
We can obtain our best overall view from articles appearing in the press, contemporary publications and the minutes of the meetings, which after 1844 became a regular feature of political Catholicism. Naturally, Episcopal and other conferences had also been held earlier in the Catholic church, but after the Diet of 1843-44 the proclamation and representation of the Catholic church's interests in political life became the focal point of these peculiarly structured and designed councils. The items under discussion can be most easily divided into two groups. One the one hand they involved purely theoretical discussions, such as the analysis of the nature of liberalism and conservatism; on the other hand they debated over the closely related concrete strategical problems and determined the practical steps to be utilised. Similarly to the liberals and the conservatives they usually held meetings every three months when the national fairs in Pest generally drew large crowds. We could find five very extensive protocols of secret ecclesiastical meetings in a lot of various archival places: 27th October 1844, 5th September 1845, 13th November 1846, 16th March and 7th June 1847. These meant only the meetings of all Hungarian Catholic Church, but there were organised a lot of more narrow meetings, e.g. for priests of a diocese etc. Between the meetings Mihály Fogarasy (see below) and other leaders often wrote and posted lithographed circular letters to members of the politicking Catholic group, e.g. I have found from this type written in 15th July and 15th December 1847 etc. These protocols and letters made the fundament for the speeches of clergymen on the county assemblies, the planned articles of newspapers and letters to influential nobles etc.
As we shall soon see, the politically active Catholics served as a secure bastion of the conservative camp, and consequently adjusted their discussions to the meetings of the 'thoughtful progressives.' (In opposite of the 'running progressives' which meant the liberal opposition.) By the last years of the Reform Era Pest had become unambiguously the centre of political life, and the Catholics also chose this major city for their organisational work. The selection of Budapest (Pest and Buda) as the centre for Catholic politicking reveals a practical understanding of the emerging political realities. One of the leaders of the group, Mihály Fogarasy, Canon of Nagyvárad and from 1846 a titular bishop of Sqodar, became in practice the national co-ordinator of the group at Pest. Toward the end of the Diet of 1843-44 the direction of Catholic politicking was entrusted to a clerical committee. The members included besides the aforementioned Fogarasy, Canon of Veszprém Miklós Bezerédy, the director of a seminary András Lipthay, and a Benedictine monk from Pannonhalma, who later became Abbot of Bakonybél, Miklós Sárkány, while the prelates were represented by the Bishop of Pécs János Scitovszky, who had been most active in issues of public life. The committee held its first meeting after the conclusion of the diet in September 1845. Afterwards its meetings became more regular, and the number of participants also grew. The committee fancied itself a type of 'leading organisation', and interestingly devoted most of its attention not to staging mass gatherings but to improved organisation for the advancement of Catholicism.
One of the dominant characteristics of the meetings held during and immediately after the Diet of 1843-44 was the negative evaluation of the events of the diet. Most especially they interpreted Article 3 as a serious defeat for the Catholic church. The participants found the causes of this defeat above all in the 'spirit of the age,' and identified with liberalism the struggle for religious liberty, which they deemed as anti-Catholic. We can read in the secret protocol of the clergymen's meeting of 27th October 1844: 'The Time pressed on us. All the proposals on this diet supported by the opposition can be dangerous for the clergy, can destroy the authority of the Catholic Church, if they indeed were passed - which does not seem impossible. The storm is raging above us. The philosophy just like in France is preparing for its victory. These are not ordinary but extraordinary as it is not the time for peace. So we must do our best to avert the menace.' In other words it means that a group of clergymen could analyse the pushing forward of liberalism in Hungary according to its significance. In their opinion the flat refusal of the ideas and the political devices of the reform-opposition was not enough any more to secure the position and the social influence of the Catholic Church. By approving changes they meant that the Church should acknowledge certain reforms should work out the strategy soon how the role of the catholic Church could stay unchanged in changed circumstances.
The cathedral chapters sought from the beginning to avoid the charge that their actions constituted an effort to circumvent, or even oppose, the Catholic hierarchy and emphasised their indebtedness to the episcopate. At the same time it appears that in disguised form they desired to convince the bishops, most especially the Archbishop of Esztergom, to embrace and provide leadership, or at least lend their names, to the chapters' political movement. They desired to mobilise the entire Catholic public sphere; and the representatives wanted not only to win the entire clergy over to assume a role in their cause of public political action but also, however subtly, hoped to nudge their superiors in the same direction. The fact that during this early phase of political Catholicism the members of the cathedral chapters played the leading role is both interesting and significant. Relatively few bishops participated. The Bishop of Pécs János Scitovszky, who became Archbishop of Esztergom in 1849, did, however, show interest and assumed a role. Unlike the later Catholic social movements the lower clergy, the parish priests, also did not contribute to the same degree as the cathedral chapters. The representatives of the chapters sat in the lower house of the diet and as a result became particularly sensitive to the dangers liberalism posed to the privileged position of the Catholic church, which had been rooted in feudalism. As a result they probably also came to understand first that in order to resist liberalism they would have to develop a new strategy. Later during the 1860s and 1870s, that is during the period of the Compromise of 1867 and the First Vatican Council, the leading members of the Reform Era's political Catholicism often rose to the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. For example, Mihály Fogarasy became Bishop of Transylvania, János Ranolder rose from Canon of Pécs to Bishop of Veszprém, István Lipovniczky was promoted from the Esztergom cathedral chapter to Bishop of Nagyvárad and János Perger moved up to become Bishop of Kassa.
In keeping with the basic stance of political Catholicism the members of the movement in 1848 exaggerated the dangers posed to their church by the liberal proposals. They discovered the hand of devil in the demand for reciprocity by all the denominations in cases of mixed marriages and spoke of an effort to dismantle the rights of the Catholic church. The representatives of political Catholicism tended to judge any initiative directed against the Catholics as a first step designed ultimately to destroy the church. The notebooks, letters and publications of the politically active Catholics make clear that they did not reject just certain aspects of religious policy but repudiated the Reform Era in its entirety. They recognised in the Reform Era anti-church tendencies; and instead of seeking to find contacts with the opposition, they busied themselves with a complete renunciation of middle class culture. They condemned the reform movement for its attack on feudalism and its assertion of middle class freedoms.
In the interest of achieving concrete results, political Catholicism in general borrowed many of the seemingly successful instruments of liberalism. In other words political Catholicism seemed to recognise that in a changing world they could employ new types of organising. One of their most important discoveries was that wooing the public and shaping public opinion in their favour had become a necessity. The political Catholics realised that their opponents, by enlivening the correspondence among the counties, by actively participating in the county assemblies, and using the press had achieved a major advantage. In the opinion of the canons these instruments must be appropriated, or at the very least counterbalanced.
The central aim of its organised activity, seems to have been somewhat anachronistic. Beginning with the Diet of 1825-27 the representatives of the cathedral chapters, just as the representatives of the royal free towns, retained only the right to offer advice and one collective vote for each group. The representatives of the cathedral chapters considered the loss of their individual votes a serious grievance and began striving for ever greater representation. In this undertaking they attempted to make common cause with the towns but with little success. Nevertheless, between 1844 and 1848 the efforts of political Catholicism were not entirely devoid of strength. They published a number of books and many newspaper articles in defence of their individual voting rights; and they also managed to win the support of some conservative minded county representatives. In 1846 they even produced a petition to the ruler. For example, the Catholic church financed conservative Nemzeti Újság ('National Press') published numerous lead articles during the diets in support of the representatives' voting rights; and prelates financed the publication of several pamphlets in the same cause. One need hardly mention that the institution of representation for the cathedral chapters at the diets was fundamentally opposed to the 'spirit of the age' as well as the concepts of popular representation, modern parliamentarism and equality before the law. In other words the organisation of political Catholicism at this time was initiated by the desire to retain a former feudal privilege. The loss of this right was deemed a danger for the church. Just as later the loss of the tithe in 1848 and the establishment of civil marriage during the second half of the nineteenth century would be perceived as pointing toward the eventual destruction of the Catholic church.
Canon Fogarasy and his allies designated as their most important task the encouragement of activity in public life. In its characteristic fashion political Catholicism urged the Catholic clergy not to be preoccupied exclusively with religious matters but to become engaged in the political life of the age, let its voice be heard, and defend its interests at the various forums of public life. At the time this meant above all encouragement for the participation of the lower Catholic clergy in the county assemblies, which were considered the most important stage for political activity, and the regular attendance of the prelates in the upper house of the national diets. The effort to urge the clergy to participate in the political life of the counties, not only in a direct manner, but also indirectly was not entirely new. What is significant, however, is that its form can be considered a new element. The political Catholics goal was to influence in their own favour the instructions to be given to the county representatives for the next diet. They could only hope to achieve this aim through actively building personal contacts. They considered the effort important, although they recognised that the majority of county representatives were liberal, and even the conservative ones were not particularly enthusiastic about the cause of the church. Often the political Catholics sought to win over the straddles by spreading news that demonstrated the danger posed by their enemies to the public. The lower clergy were virtually directed to emphasise and, if necessary, exaggerate the radicalism of the liberals. It is also noteworthy that in order to express effectively the Catholic point of view and successfully participate in public life, the political Catholics desired to study in depth the liberal arguments and publications.
At this time political Catholicism truly discovered one of the main sources of liberalism's Reform Era strength: the usefulness political power that was based on the massive spread of information. One important source for the expansion of liberal views and their growing influence was the formation of public opinion through the institutional network of information exchanges among the counties. They desired to transplant this form of interchange to the cathedral chapters. In short through the exchange of information among various Catholic bodies, they desired to develop common positions, which would be included in the instructions of the representatives to the diets. They wished to appropriate a mobilised public, which although not institutionally a part of the diet, still at that time formed an increasingly important weapon in the arsenal of their opponents. The intent to form a Catholic public opinion was not entirely new but still significant. Above all they endeavoured to establish a Catholic public opinion by financing publications. On the main issues the political Catholics desired to influence the publications that more or less defended Catholic interests. These included: the Religio és Nevelés ('Religion and Education'), which primarily attracted those interested in theology, the daily Nemzeti Újság ('National Press'), and the Budapesti Híradó ('Budapest Courier'). Nevertheless, the papers supported by the Catholic church could not compete well with the liberal press. The number of their subscribers did not increase, and even with the support of the clergy the publications barely continued to make ends meet. On the other hand in 1845 the Nemzeti Újság acquired as editor the talented journalist Sándor Lipthay, who helped make the paper a more effective voice for conservatism. In addition political Catholicism considered the improvement of religious life important. It assigned considerable significance to religious education, the acquisition and maintenance of intellectual influence over the schools, as well as the strict supervision of reading materials available to the young. The council also first formulated the idea of an independent modern Catholic publishing house, which - the forerunner of today's Szent István Társulat ('St. Stephen Society') was formally established under the leadership of Fogarasy in 1848. The political Catholics also assigned a considerable role to the maintenance of successful boarding schools and the establishment of new ones. They also sought the clerical leadership of the Catholics who joined devotional groups and sodalities, which were intended to deepen not only the commitment to Catholicism but also to shape the political opinions of their members. The cathedral chapters also desired to sustain good relations with both the secular nobility and the prelates but also the lesser clergy. It was characteristic during the growth of urbanisation that the Catholic church was able to react reasonably quickly and employ to its own advantage other new developments in state and social relations. These included the laws on bills of exchange, the gradually expanding banking system, and the institutional engagement with the newly growing money economy.
Finally, the most interesting question could perhaps be the delineation of the place of political Catholicism in the development of ideology. We can only touch on this issue here; we can provide no definitive answer. The clergymen engaged in politics easily found their way to the lay nobles of the Conservative Party. Their basic attitude was the same: they wanted to counterbalance liberalism by acknowledging the necessity for certain reforms by making use of political organising activity by creating a majority of the governing party and forming the public opinion in favour of it and to achieve all these goals they used the set of devices borrowed from liberalism. From the beginning the organisers of the Conservative Party counted of the active support of the Catholic clergymen and the latter undertook this task with pleasure. We must make it absolutely clear that whereas lay nobles treated clergymen simply as the members of their party, the Catholic clergy wished to serve the conservative affair as an independent political group ('platform') allied to the Conservative Party. Although they did not found a separate Catholic party , their organisation joined the Conservative Party as an independent and equal political group. They acknowledged the importance of the alliance concluded with the conservatives but they laid stress on representing the specific interests of the Church. In other words it meant that the 'platform' as well as the need for natural alliance appeared before 1848 within the framework of feudalism though in a public life rapidly becoming bourgeois. According to Modern theory of politics the clergy represented a real 'platform' within the Conservative Party, they held independent meetings, worked out an independent strategy, however they did it in alliance with the conservatives.
During the debates of the 1830s and 1840s that engulfed ecclesiastical politics only a handful of conservative magnates participated, and only a few secular nobles were willing to take up the defence of the interests of the Catholic church. Although some laymen desired to portray themselves as the defenders of a 'tormented church,' this stance was not typical, even of conservatives. Perhaps János Majláth's lead articles in Nemzeti Újság represented these defences of Catholicism best. It is also true that after 1844 the nascent conservative camp, led by Emil Dessewffy, Antal Szécsen and Sándor Lipthay among others, expected the assistance of the Catholic clergy in the formation of their party. On the other hand we ought to keep in mind that although Hungarian conservatism of later eras considers itself above all Christian and likes to portray itself as a defender of the church, this was not a general characteristic of the conservatives of the Reform Era, especially not during its formative years. Although a few signs of a link between Christianity and conservatism were apparent in 1847, these were not characteristic of the conservative camp as a whole. It would appear that the Catholic church was a necessary but somewhat uncomfortable ally. The conservatives appeared to need the support of Catholicism: the backing of the responsive prelates and lower clergy as well as the national organisation of the network of parishes. At the same time the conservatives did not automatically wish to represent the interests of the Catholic church. The reason for this was most probably connected to the situation that during the 1840s the Catholic church was at a low point in Hungary; and the 'thoughtful progressives' did not want Catholic support to result in the loss of the vacillating nobility in the county assemblies.
The following episode provides us with a good example of the problem. The day after the official formation of the Conservative Party and the proclamation of its program on 12 November 1846, the council of the political Catholics met and expressed its dismay with the party's extensive program by protesting the complete omission of the cathedral chapter representatives' voting rights at the diet. The Catholic agitation did not remain ineffectual. In 1847 and in somewhat veiled terms the Hungarian Chancellor and one of the main leaders of the conservatives, György Apponyi yielded to the Catholic request and expanded the program of the party to include the restoration of the cathedral chapter representatives' votes. (The events of the spring of 1848, however, probably prevented any further advance in this area.) In 1847 political Catholicism also succeeded in achieving one of its characteristic goals: it gained influence over several secular nobles, and gained their support for the interests of the church. A good example of this can be found in the lead article, 'The Clergy: One of the Founders of the Conservative Party' written by a layman and published by the Nemzeti Újság in the spring of that year. Although the constraints of time prevented the creation of an independent Catholic group in order to counterbalance the efforts of liberalism to legally separate church and state, the political Catholics represented a faction allied with the Conservative Party, but clearly differentiated from it. This is hardly surprising; since the opposition party, which had been working together for far longer, only organised itself during the spring of 1847 and only published a formal program in June of the same year. On the other hand the political Catholics could point to some serious accomplishments in the field of propaganda. In 1847 of the 600 members of the conservative minded club of Pest, 'Gyűlde' ('Collector'), one fourth were Catholic ecclesiasticals; and we can find these same clerical club members working not only in the national conservative party but also in its local organisations.

Sources and materials

The most important archival sources: Arch-Bishopric Archive of Esztergom, Kop. Cat. D. (= Dioeceses et dioecesani episcopi. Capitula, abbates), Kop. Cat. 59. (= Acta diaetalia aut comitiorum causa interventa); Arch-Bishopric Archive of Eger, Archivum Novum. Nr. 2730. (= Publico-ecclesiastica, 1809-1855.); Manuscripts of the Benedictine Library of Pannonhalma, BK. 182/XI. (= Miklós Sárkány's legacy), BK. 146/V-X. (= Mihály Rimely's legacy.); Bishopric and Chapter Archive of Székesfehérvár, Nr. 109. / 391. (= Diaetalia, 1839-1925.); National Archive of Hungary, A 45. (= Archive of the Hungarian Chancellery, Acta Praesidialia), A 135. (= Acta presidialia II.), P 90. 3/k. (= Archive of the Family Dessewffy. Acta Politica. Records of the Conservative Party), R 144. (= General Records of the Conservative Party); Manuscripts of the National Széchényi Library, Fol. Lat. 4065/I-IV. (= Letters of József Lonovics), a lot of archives of the counties etc.
For the problem of early Political Catholicism in Hungary and the ecclesiastical group in the Conservative party I have some earlier publication (with detailed archival sources and typewritten materials): The Dawn of Political Catholicism in Hungary, 1844-1848. Hungarian Studies, 1998/99. Nr. 1. pp. 13-26.; "Az idő ránk is terhesedett" Adalék a politikai katolicizmus reformkori történetéhez. A Herman Ottó Múzeum Évkönyve, XXXV-XXXVI. Ed.: Veres, László - Viga, Gyula. (Miskolc, 1997.) pp. 255-272.; Katolikus egyháziak "platformja" a Konzervatív Pártban. Az Ellenzéki Nyilatkozat és a kortársak. Ed.: Molnár, András. (Zalaegerszeg, 1998.) pp. 73-112.; Érvek és ellenérvek a káptalani követek országgyűlési szavazatjogáról Szemere Bertalan ismeretlen beszéde kapcsán, 1847. október 15. Egyház és politika a XIX. századi Magyarországon. Ed.: Hegedűs, András - Bárdos, István. (Esztergom, 1999.) pp. 11-32.; A katolikus egyház közéleti tevékenységének reformkori történetéhez. (Esettanulmány: Katolikus politikai program 1846-ból). Állam és egyház a polgári átalakulás korában Magyarországon, 1848-1918. Ed.: Sarnyai, Csaba Máté. (Budapest, 2001.) pp. 29-45.; A Tiszáninneni Református Egyházkerület állásfoglalásai a vegyes házasságokkal kapcsolatos egyházpolitikai vitákban, 1839-1844. Sárospataki Füzetek, 2001. Nr. 1. pp. 73-102.
For the Hungarian Church policy in general: Horváth Mihály, Huszonöt év Magyarország történetéből. I-III. (Budapest, 1886.); Sörös Pongrácz, A kath. klérus törekvései az 1843/44. országgyűlés egyházi ügyeinek tárgyalása alatt. Katholikus Szemle, 1901. Nr. 10. pp. 865-890.; Hermann Egyed, A katolikus egyház története Magyarországon 1914-ig. (München, 1974.) (Dissertationes Hungaricae ex Historia Ecclesiae, I.); Varga János, Megye és haladás a reformkor hajnalán (1840-1843). Somogy megye múltjából, 11-12. (Kaposvár, 1980-1981. pp. 177-243., 155-294.; Kovács Ferencz, Az 1843-44-ik évi magyar országgyűlés alsó tábla kerületi üléseinek naplója. I-VI. (Budapest, 1894.); Bárány György, A liberalizmus perspektívái és korlátai az 1843/44-es országgyűlés vallásügyi vitáinak tükrében. Századok, 1990. Nr. 2. pp. 183-218. p.; Csáky, Moritz, Der Kulturkampf in Ungarn. Die kirchenpolitische Gesetzgebung der Jahre 1894/95. (Graz-Wien-Köln, 1967.) (Studien zur Geschichte der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie. Bd. VI.); Révész László, Die Anfänge des ungarischen Parlamentarismus. Südosteuropäische Arbeiten. Nr. 68. (München, 1968.); Csorba László, A Vallásalap "jogi természete". Az egyházi vagyon problémája a polgári átalakulás korának Magyarországán, 1782-1918. (Budapest, 1999) etc.
For the problem of the end of the 'Age of Josephinism': Meszlényi Antal, A jozefinizmus kora Magyarországon (1780-1846). (Budapest, 1934.); Hersche, Peter: Der Spätjosephinismus in Österreich. (Vienna, 1977.); Klueting, Harm, Der Josephinismus. Ausgewählte Quellen zur Geschichte der teresianisch-josephinischen Reformen. (Darmstadt, 1995.) etc.
For the European parallels: Szántó Konrád, A katolikus egyház története. II. (Budapest, 1987.); Gergely Jenő, A pápaság története. (Budapest, 1982.); Catholic Political Thought, 1789-1848. Ed.: Menczer, Béla. (London, 1962.) pp. 136-156.; Heinen, Ernst, Staatliche Macht und Katholizismus in Deutschland. I. Band. Dokumente des politischen Katholizismus von seinen Anfängen bis 1867. (Paderborn, 1969.); last and the best: Religious Change in Europe, 1650-1914. Essays for John McManners. (Oxford, 1997.) etc. We have used the papal encyclicals published on the Internet:; etc.
For the theories of the Political Catholicism we have used: Salacz Gábor, A magyar kultúrharc története, 1890-1895. (Pécs, 1938.); Salacz Gábor, Egyház és állam Magyarországon a dualizmus korában, 1867-1918. (München, 1974.) (Dissertationes Hungaricae ex historia Ecclesiae. II.); Gergely Jenő, A politikai katolicizmus Magyarországon. (1890-1950) (Budapest, 1977.); Szabó Dániel, A Néppárt megalakulása. Történelmi Szemle, 1977. Nr. 2. pp. 169-208.; Szabó Miklós, Új vonások a századfordulói magyar konzervatív politikai gondolkodásban. Századok, 1974. Nr. 1. pp. 3-65.; Gergely Jenő, Szabad egyház a szabad államban? A politikai katolicizmusról. Népszabadság, 1993. 14 August. p. 19.; Dénes Iván Zoltán, Közüggyé emelt kiváltságőrzés. A magyar konzervatívok szerepe és értékvilága az 1840-es években. (Budapest, 1989.); Dénes Iván Zoltán, The Hungarian Conservatives and how they Saw Themselves. Journal of Hungarian Studies, 1983.