In Hungary the restoration of churches has come to symbolise what is seen as the growing collaboration between the communist government and the Christian churches.
In Hungary the restoration of churches has come to symbolise what is seen as the growing collaboration between the communist government and the Christian churches. The Catholic church, with about seven million followers, out of a population of 10 and a half million, is by far the largest single group. The remainder, about 30 percent of the population, are listed as Protestants.
SYNOPSIS: This church, in the small village of Nagyharsany, in the west of Hungary, is Calvanist. Its history goes back more than a thousand years to Roman times and the early years of both the Christian church and the Hungarian state. Now, it has been restored by the present government, at a cost of around 125,000 US dollars. Hungary is not the only communist state that provides money for the restoration of churches if they are classed as national historical monuments. But observers say that the state has shown considerable flexibility in dealing with the activities that go on inside religious institutions. The Hungarian constitution ensures citizens freedom of conscience and the right to religious worship. There has been recent moves by the government aimed at improving relations with the Vatican and last month Pope John Paul revealed that for the first time since the Second World War Hungarians are to be allowed to study for the priesthood in Rome. Apart from the improving relations with the Catholic church, other religious groups, such as the Protestants and Jews, have reported an easing of a number of government regulations.