At least this is what about one-third of the country thinks. Because Pál Schmitt made the mistake of submitting his proposals to the parliamentary committee that is busily trying to come up with a constitution that the Fidesz government considers appropriate for the great nation. The proposals are a collection of clichés and wrong facts. All written in a primitive, often incomprehensible language full of grammatical and spelling errors. Quite something from the man who wants to be known as the defender of the Hungarian language. It is hard to fathom, but there are always people who think that a language must be defended against its enemies, the speakers. In any case, Schmitt claims that the Hungarian language is in a "tragic state."
Schmitt's own intellectual capacity may be severely limited, but what is even more worrisome is that his staff's capabilities seem to be not much higher. You may recall that Sólyom's staff was decimated. Practically the whole staff got the boot. I assume that the firing wasn't really Schmitt's decision, as I suspect practically nothing is, and that his "boss" was in charge of deciding who would go and who would replace them. But whoever chose the staff did a lousy job. I don't expect Schmitt to know how embarrassingly bad his proposals are, but if they picked a president of such limited abilities at least they could have chosen a staff who could try to hide his stupidity.
Schmitt's proposals were put on the internet a few days ago, but it seems that no eagle-eyed journalist found them until Zsófia Mihancsik, editor-in-chief of Galamus, published the juiciest parts of his so-called proposals. A good thing because since then the embarrassing document has disappeared from the web site of the Hungarian parliament. (By the way, I have it in its original .pdf form and would be glad to send it on to people who would like to read the whole thing.) Here is a translation of a few doozies Mihancsik found especially amusing. Emphases by Mihancsik. If you don't understand this mumbo jumbo, don't worry. I don't either.
I. Does Christianity have a place in a national constitution?
To the question whether it is necessary to mention Christianity in the preamble of constitutions, Schmitt's answer is: "Yes, because in national constitutions the idea of Christianity appears either as a reference or in hidden form as part of basic human rights, for example, as freedom of religion." After a not too accurate description of revolutions that swept away absolutism and established basic rights like "freedom of religion (as Christianity) the constitutions of some European countries (Greece, Ireland, Poland and Bavaria, belonging to Germany) mention Christianity as opposed to France and the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe." He adds mysteriously: "Our present constitution declares the separation of church and state." Sounds ominous!
Chapter on Catholic social thinking and teaching
"In this chapter I will introduce you to the historical development of the Church's teachings…. According to the Greeks the universe is eternal while according to Christian teachings, the world is the creation of God. The teaching of the Catholic Church is first and foremost not a political question. It is only in the last two hundred years (since the French revolution) that the directives of the Catholic Church became ever more important, and the believers demand more and more the Church's guidance."
Chapter about the Hungarian Reformed Church
Religion is not a private matter. On the contrary: religion is a public matter, the 'community of souls.' The church cannot commit violence because "the power of the church cannot be considered to be political power." "This means that all kinds of power can be only of divine origin. In my own interpretation this means that constitutional power is given by God…. The occupants of worldly power receive their power from God because God has power over the 'absolutorium.'" (What he actually wanted to say was not absolutorium which means a certificate received upon graduation but "the absolute.")
The historical constitution and its actuality in our days
After some confused sentences about the Theory of the Holy Crown, Schmitt claims that "the historical [unwritten] constitution carries moral messages and such logical theories found in the ordinary people's thinking that stand as a barrier against future legislation. Some scholars claim that because Hungary actually had a historical constitution, the new document might only be called basic laws. My study follows this way of thinking. However, I might add that I can imagine calling the document of basic laws the constitution and the constitution constitutionality. In any case, in both cases it is obvious that there exists above the 'highest written law' a norm which cannot be annulled by parliament."
Schmitt then makes a few rather interesting comments on the birth of the present constitution. According to him "the parliament that legalized the present constitution came into being in an undemocratic regime. It is true that the modifications to the constitution were made by a democratically elected parliament but the electoral law that elected that parliament was created by the illegitimate parliament of 1989." Thus, if we follow Schmitt's reasoning all governments and all parliaments have been illegitimate ever since 1990. According to him all sorts of terrible legal breaches have taken place, and he talks darkly about "making sure that in the future, elections should be repeated if the question of large scale cheating takes place."
As soon as the abbreviated version of Schmitt's "study" surfaced, several articles appeared trying to figure out what Schmitt was actually talking about. Or, pointing out wrong facts, possible plagiarism, and wrong grammar. I will spend another article on these reactions.