Today, the Hungarian Bishops’ Conference released a declaration as follows:
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference asked in harmony with pope Francis the Catholic Caritas organisation to provide assistance to the needy in cooperation with the public authorities. The Conference should seek as it has done so far for the most efficient ways of assistance, given in the current legal and humanitarian circumstances. Being aware of the seriousness of the current historic situation, we express our concerns about the fate of our Christian brothers in the Near East. We emphasise at the same time that the nation state has the right and duty to protect its citizens. Done at Budapest on 3 September 2015.“
Let me give you information in brief of what are the topics I have dealt with in the recent month that concern the social responsibility of Catholic intellectuals. A summary of some papers of mine is to indicate that I am prepared to follow structured discussion on these, and related subjects. These pieces of publication are in Hungarian. I shall still be glad to switch over the English if there is an opportunity to take part in discussion at the international fora of Pax Romana.
The cornerstones of this paper are the strong statements of the pope made in Evangelii gaudium. They are: “.. desidero una Chiesa povera per i poveri.”,
Hungarian universities and Hungarian civil society have been currently in a special case, suffocating under the pressure of arbitrary government intervention and centralisation of political power. About the reaction of Hungarian churches to our problems, I can tell you, that we cannot experience any sympathy or understanding from them as institutions.
The Hungarian government reduced the budget of higher education to its half during the last 5 years and failed to elaborate a stable and predictable financing system. In 2013, the Hungarian national budget spent only 0,43 % of the GDP to higher education – instead of 1% according to the recommendations of EU. The government strongly restricts academic autonomy and obliges financially vulnerable university managements to background bargaining and lobbying. The Prime Minister personally appoints chancellors beside rectors and thus can directly interfere with the management of universities. The government also threatens the independent functioning of the Hungarian Accreditation Committee thus discrediting quality assessment and hampering the international recognition of our universities. The teaching staff suffered essential losses due to forced retirement and dismissal caused by financial restrictions: as a result, the workload of the remaining active academic staff has greatly increased while their salaries remain extremely low compared to European standards.