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Tolérance religieuse, pluralisation et renaissance nationale

1781 : It was only with the Edict of Toleration by Joseph II that a restricted freedom of confession was guaranteed to the adherents of the Augsburg Evangelical Lutheran Church, Reformed Helvetic (Calvinists) and Orthodox (not united) Church. This edict ended counter-reformation in the Habsburg Monarchy. However, this was just the first step towards religious freedom in the monarchy. Adherents of these confessions could own property, pursue a craft, become citizens of towns, gain academic degrees and hold official positions. Various restrictions such as ban on entrance from the main street or square applied on their temples and churches, but these were soon also abolished. Despite this, Catholic religion was still the only public and state religion. Protestant churches from this period are sometimes referred to as tolerance churches.

1787 : Reorganization of the Greek-Catholic Church on the territory of today’s Slovakia. Diocese of Spiš was established in 1776, and included Greek-Catholic parishes. However, in 1787, upon order by the Emperor Joseph II, they were handed over to the administration of Eparchy of Mukachevo.

1791 : General Consistory established at the Protestant synod in Peš, where the religious constitution enacting presbyteral-synodal principle and parity representation among clergymen and laymen in church administration was adopted. At the same time, the two Protestant churches in Hungary - The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (Lutherans) and Evangelical Church of the Helvetic Confession (Reformed) formally united into a common General Consistory as a joint institute of both churches. However, the unification efforts met with the resistance particularly of Slovak Lutherans (in contrast with German-speaking Lutherans). Therefore, a compromise was reached in the form of the formal existence of a Protestant Church in the Hungary, while preserving the competencies of districts – relatively independent administrative units of individual churches. Gradually, however, both in the General Consistory itself and within independent churches, national issues came up, fueled by the diverging ambitions of Hungarian, Slovak and German protestants in terms of church fusion and relationship to Hungary and to Hungarian nation. Slovak congregations were the dominant constituent of Lutheranism in Hungary (out of more than 800 000 Lutheran in 1861, the number of Slovaks was two times higher than of Germans and four times higher than of Hungarians). There were more Reformed among Hungarians Protestants, Lutherans were only a minor group (only approximately 10% of all Protestants).

At the end of the 18th century a National Revival period started, connected with the codification of literary Slovak. This was also the moment of constitution of the principles of the modern Slovak nation. In 1787, the Catholic priest Anton Bernolák codified the first standard Slovak, which was based on literate West Slovak with features of Central Slovak dialect and phonologic spelling. Language codification was part of movements of the Catholic priests and scholars known under the name Bernolákovci (followers of Bernolák) linked predominantly by Bernolák’s literate Slovak, the concept of Slovak national independence and the idea of equal nations. They founded an organization called Slovak Educated Brotherhood devoted to cultivating language, writing works of art and translating texts into Bernolak’s Slovak.

First half of the 19th Century : Second generation of national movement – the Štúrovci. In 1843 a professor at the Lutheran Lycée in Bratislava, Ludovít Štúr, came up with the idea of joining the Catholic and Lutheran streams of Slovak through a mutual standard Slovak. Liturgical and literary language used by Slovak Lutheran was the biblical Czech. He selected the Central Slovak Dialect as the basis of the new standard Slovak, above all for its wide use, originality and comprehensibility. Slovaks were supposed to be united by a pan-Slovak over-confessional society called Tatrín. Initially, he proposed to create a common Czechoslovak language, but abandoned the idea due to a lack of interest of the Czech linguists. At the 4th assembly of the Tatrín society in Čachtice, the representatives of the Catholics and the Lutherans definitely agreed to use a new common standard language (Agreement on the unification of Slovak Catholics and Lutherans on the question of standard Slovak).

1839 : Karol (Charles) Zay was appointed general inspector of the Lutheran Church in Hungary. He aimed to magyarise Slovak and German Lutherans and to unite them with the Reformed. He came in conflict with the representatives of the Slovak Revival Movement, such as Štúr. The joining of two churches with members of three different nationalities, in which the Hungarians were dominant, would have led not only to the suppression of other nationalities, but to the dominancy of Calvinism in the united church as well as to the suppression of Lutheran theology. The dispute over the union shifted to a Lutheran-Calvinist and Slovak-Hungarian issue.

1848 : During the revolution of 1948-1849, the Slovaks supported the Austrian Emperor against Hungarian national and revolutionary movement. Slovak Lutheran intellectuals - Štúr, Hurban and Hodža - established the First Slovak National Council and called for independence from the Hungarian part of the Habsburg Monarchy. The Slovak National Council stopped its activity after the revolution ended in failure, and Slovakia remained part of the Hungarian part of monarchy. Act No. 20/1848 on freedom of religion in the Hungary and equality of confessions.

After the defeat of the Hungarian army at Világos in 1849 and the introduction of neoabsolutism, the emperor abolished Protestant religious independence in Hungary. The Order of 10 February 1850, in fact, cancelled the self-government of the Protestant churches in Hungary.

In 1859, the Protestant Patent (for the Austrian part in 1861) was declared. This regulation (prepared in part by the Slovak Lutheran priest Karol Kuzmany) introduced a united system for Protestants of both permitted churches – the Lutheran and the Reformed. It included declaration of formal equality with the Catholic Church and limited the influence of secular power over the Church. The Patent was supposed to prevent magyarization on church ground. It suggested the foundation of a Church Board as the highest institute connecting the Church and the government ; the division of superintendences from four to six ; a synod was supposed to take place every six years and the church was to be given yearly support by the state. The Patent divided Protestants into two groups : patent adherents, who welcomed it (Slovak Lutherans and German Lutherans in the west and in the south of Hungary) and autonomists, who perceived it as an intervention into Church autonomy (Hungarian Lutherans, the Reformed and the German from the Spiš region). Patent adherents appreciated various freedoms and the organization of administrative districts (so called seniorate “seniorát”) and congregations through electoral system. They could have perceived the submission to the High Church Board in Vienna as a form of protection against the Hungarian nationalism and the rule of magnates in the church. Autonomists opposed above all the intervention of the political power into church matters and the form of the emperor’s order. By the end of 1860, only 341 out of 555 Protestant congregations organized themselves according to the Patent. After the easing of the absolutism, on 15 May 1860, the emperor issued a decree, which allowed choosing between patental or autonomist management, which, de facto, meant the failure of the Protestant Patent. On 15 May 1867, the Patent was lifted and organization of the church returned to the prior state.

In 1861 the Memorandum of the Slovak Nation was declared the basic programme document of the Slovak national movement. A common declaration of the Lutheran and Catholic intelligentsia demanded the recognition of the Slovaks as a political nation with its own self-government, the establishment of Slovak cultural and educational institutes and the guarantee of language rights. The Memorandum was denied by the Diet of Hungary. They were only able to gain the temporary opening of Matica Slovenská and three Slovak grammar schools (shut down in 1874).

1867 : Austro-Hungarian Settlement – transformation of the Habsburg Monarchy into the dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The autonomous status of Hungary did not accomplish the claims of non-Hungarian nations. In 1868, the equalization of Protestants and Catholics in the Hungary (Article 53/1868), which legalized confessional dualism, was finalized. The Act also included the regulation of children’s confessions in mixed marriages – sons followed the father’s confession and daughters the mother’s. Trouble emerged with the so-called stolen christening – christening of children legally not belonging to the confession of the priest baptizing the child (this mainly applied to the Catholic confession).

1879 : Hungarian was introduced at all types of schools by the Act No 18/1879 so that everybody could master written and spoken Hungarian. Church schools were the only ones with minor exceptions.

1880 : Anti-Pan-Slavic (Magyarization) movement within Protestant churches. Regulation of the general convent obliged lower organizational units to impede the spreading of Pan-Slavism since it stood for hostility towards the Hungarian nation. Since 1882, Pan-Slavism was considered a canonical offence, which deprived the responsible of the church office. In 1883, a new church constitution was approved, which changed the territorial arrangement used so far. This led to breaking the Slovak majority in Pre-Danubian district. Since 1896, Hungarian was the sole official language of the Protestant convents.

1885 : Lutheran superintendents were permitted to be called bishops. Act No. 7/1885 allowed the Protestants to take positions in the Upper House (three bishops and three Church overseers).

1890 : Cultural fights for baptism : order of the so-called stolen christenings, ended in 1893 by Act No 32, which left the decision on the affiliation to the parents.
1894/98 : Liberal laws. Act No 31/1894 introduced obligatory civil marriages. By Act No 33/1894 the state took over the registries of births and deaths (register of Protestant children as Catholics by Catholic priests /registrars was abolished). Act No 43/1859 enabled anybody to convert or be without confession. Act No 41/1895 made Jewish religion equal to other religions. Act No. 14/1898 established Congrua for the clerics.

End of 1890s : The concept of national unity arises amongst Slovaks and Czechs (“hlasisti” – Slovak Evangelic intellectuals around the daily newspaper “Hlas”).
1907 : Adoption of school legislation of Albert Apponyi – total magyarization of schools including the religious schools.

1907 : Adoption of school legislation of Albert Apponyi – total magyarization of schools including the religious schools.

D 13 octobre 2020    AMiroslav Tížik

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