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Mars-septembre 2019

  • September 2019

Politic Controversy about Adoptions by Homosexuals

By the beginning of September, the media published diverse statements by higher political state representatives on the adoption of children by homosexual couples. Robert Fico, chairman of the biggest ruling party (SMER), is persuaded that the possibility to adopt a child should only be given to married couples. He has announced a constitutional amendment that would supplement the adoption rules by the definition of marriage as ‘the union of a man and a woman’. Fico wants to prevent the adoption of children by homosexual couples in the future. Robert Fico opened the issue in mid-August. In a video published on Facebook, he announced it would be correct to take a paragraph from the Act on Family and make it into a constitutional definition of marriage and of who can adopt a child. Only married couples would have the option. ‘If we succeeded in doing this, we would exclude all the perversity about homosexuals being able to adopt children in the future. I cannot agree with this and this is also the view of the SMER party’, said Fico. Prime Minister, Peter Pellegrini, who is also one of the vice-chairmen of SMER, does not see the constitutional amendment so unequivocally. ‘I personally think that we have to discuss that, because this leads to a question, whether this is an urgent and sensitive topic, which we should devote ourselves to, or whether it would rather be used or misused for political fights,’ said the Prime Minister in a RTVS show called O 5 minút 12 (Five to twelve). He added that constitution should be amended only if there is strong pressure by the public, and that we still need to establish if such pressure is present. In order to amend the constitution, at least 90 votes by members of parliament are necessary. Therefore, legislators both from the coalition and from opposition parties would have to vote for the amendment. Views across the political spectrum vary. Fico would probably be supported by Andrej Danko’s SNS. In the same show, Danko said that ‘everyone has the right to his/her own sexuality, to express his/her own religion and nobody can be blamed for his/her skin colour’. He added, ‘but I believe that we have a legal problem here regarding the rights of a minor in for example the cohabitation of two men or two women’. Members of the third coalition party, Most-Híd, would probably not vote for such an intention. Most-Híd party assigns the right to adopt children to a woman and a man, but does not think that the ban should be included in the constitution. The chairman of SAS, Richard Sulík said, “SAS party agrees with such a proposition, we have never pressed for adoptions by homosexual couples and this is not in our programme. However, I consider it useless to open the constitution so populistically and add any other part to it.”

The Slovak President, Zuzana Čaputová, also commented on the possibility to anchor the ban of adoptions by same-sex couples into the constitution. She said “I see no reason for it,” and repeated her standpoint on this issue, that children should above all be raised in a family, preferably biological. “If this option is not available, then I think a man and a woman should serve as an example, if children are raised in such a union. Of course, in case they should be raised in institutional care, then, as I openly said many times, I believe, that kind-hearted parents – even of the same sex – are a better option for such a child.” Martin Macko, chairman of the initiative Inakosť (Otherness) has drawn attention to the fact that such proposal would not only interfere with LGBTI people. “This initiative that has sprung up is harmful to all, because if it was passed in a version as suggested by Robert Fico, then all individual adoptions, which take place and are, of course, in most cases used by heterosexuals, would be completely banned.” He considers Fico’s activity a pre-election strategy.

TV Documentary on Gender Theory

In September, the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia announced to have prepared a documentary on gender theory called “Male and Female He Created Them”. It is a documentary about the views of parents, educators and teachers on gender ideology. It was made by the Congregation for Catholic Education (and study institutes). The Conference of Bishops in Slovakia released it on its webpage in an official Slovak translation. Text version, PDF version and e-readers are available. According to the Congregation for Catholic Education, this text is given to all who are concerned with education and come across gender as a topic. It is designated for educational communities on Catholic schools, as well as for all those who are inspired by the Christian view on life, but are active in other types of schools. It can be used by parents, students, directors and school staff as well as by bishops, priests, monks and nuns, religious movements, associations of believers and other educational organisations.’ The new documentary was released in June in the Vatican. Its making was stimulated by ad limina bishop visits from all over the world as well as by visits to schools and universities. The documentary tries to warn about the neutral or third sex, claiming it a fictitious construct.

National March for Life in Bratislava

The Conference of Bishops has organized an Engagement Festival as part of a pro-life National March for Life, which will be held on September 22. By this festival, the social sub-commission of the Theological Commission at KBS aims to draw the attention of young people and of march participants to other aspects of the protection of life – to solidarity and understanding of social problems.

On September 8, a pastoral address was read in Catholic churches all over Slovakia, in which people were invited to attend the National March for Life. It concentrated mainly on opposing abortions. The bishops cited in the letter Mother Teresa, who compared abortions to war : ‘The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself…’

The Catholic Church argues that this can be applied to Slovakia as well, because since the legalisation of abortions in 1957, one and half million unborn children have lost their lives. Bishops also mention Pope Francis, who compared abortions to the worst corruption and ‘contract killing’. ‘It is the worst form of corruption to pay for the elimination of a human being – to give money to a human to kill another human,’ says the letter.

The National March for Life is initiated and organized above all by the Conference of Bishops and Kanet, a non-profit organisation. It is also co-organized by other churches, associations, pro-life organisations and other organisations, which identify with the need to protect human life from conception to natural death.

Proposals to Restrict Abortions

After SMER and SNS withdrew their proposals, three other proposals by parliamentary members to restrict or ban abortions were submitted for parliamentary discussion in September. Richard Vašečka, originally from OĽANO, currently without affiliation, has proposed to ban abortions excluding those certified by a prosecutor. OĽANO party has proposed to impose a fee on abortions for women older than 40 years old and obligatory information for all those who apply for abortion. Sme rodina (We are Family) party members have proposed to shorten the period to carry out abortion from the current 12 weeks to 7 weeks, members of the extreme right-wing ĽSNS have proposed to shorten the period to 8 weeks of pregnancy.

A Majority of Slovak Citizens Does Not Agree With Tightening Abortion Policy

In September, the Focus agency prepared a survey for Markíza TV. Its results have shown that more than half of the interviewees, out of a sample of Slovak citizens, does not agree with shortening the period for a woman to decide upon abortion. Most people, namely 29.1% of interviewed people, definitely disagree with tightening the abortion legislation. 26.4% rather disagree. 11.6% of interviewees definitely agree with shortening the period for terminating pregnancy and 23% rather agree. The opinion poll was carried out after the summer debates on tightening the legislation. In mid-August, Róbert Fico, the chairman of SMER, the strongest governmental party, announced that the party would not submit its own motion on abortions into the parliament. If any other party submits such a motion, then SMER members will be given free hand in the voting.

The Highest State Representative on a Pilgrimage in Šaštín

Between September 13 and 15, there was a national pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Šaštín. A ceremonial mass was also attended by the president of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová. She said : ‘I am glad to have attended this Mass. It is always a space for calming down and for a prayer. You could hear it in the sermon, suffering is our everyday part, it is part of everyone’s life. It is nice to think about how suffering is a chance to change and to deepen the relationship to ourselves and sympathy for the others’. Andrej Danko, chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, said that Šaštín is one of those places, in which he retreats when he feels bad. Other state representatives, such as Peter Pellegrini, the Prime minister, also attended the ceremonial mass. One of the things he took from the mass is that we cannot move further with anger and hatred. Read more on TERAZ.SK website.

  • August 2019

Chairman of the Conference of Bishops Expressed Support to the Chairman of the Conference of Bishops in Poland

On August 12, the chairman of the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia, archbishop of Bratislava, Stanislav Zvolenský, expressed solidarity and support to the chairman of the Polish Conference of Bishops, archbishop of Poznań, Stanisław Gądecki, regarding the wave of criticism against the archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jędraszewský, for his critical statements against new ideologies. The chairman of the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia reacted in his letter to a statement by the chairman of the Polish Conference of Bishops, who emphasised that ‘people from the so-called sexual minorities are our brothers and sisters, for which Jesus laid down his life and which he wants to redeem. However, respect to particular people cannot lead to adopting ideology, which aims to bring revolution to social customs and interpersonal relationships.’

Amendment on Financing Churches Passed by the Government

On August 21, the Slovak government passed an amendment on financing churches and religious societies submitted by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. It will be discussed by the Slovak parliament in autumn as presented by the Ministry of Culture. Conference of bishops has welcomed the Slovak government’s decision to pass the amendment on the financial support of activities of churches and religious societies.

State Wants to Keep Supporting Churches as Part of Civic Society

On August 21, the government passed an Action Plan for the Development of Civic Society in Slovakia in 2019–2020. Tasks of the plan will be financed by the budgets of individual sectors and from European Funds. The Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic is planning measures to develop volunteering in public and civic sectors. The task of the Action Plan is to find out the state of the facilities of churches and religious societies in relation to such issues as registration, transparency, establishment and financing in the non-profit sector. The ministry of Interior plans to ‘analyse the state of purpose-built facilities of churches and religious societies and other subjects established by churches and religious societies, which carry out similar activities as non-governmental non-profit organisations. The administrator will approach every registered church and religious society through its highest representative in order to make this analysis.’

Pride in Košice

Košice, the second-largest Slovak town, held a Gay Pride on August 24 and 25, in which also several religious initiatives openly supported requirements made by people from LGBTI community. Gay Christians Slovakia and other supporters discussed a movie called Latter Days.

  • July 2019

Motion to Adopt a New Act on Financing Churches

On July 4, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic submitted to the interdepartmental consultation procedure a motion on a new way of financing churches. The motion is based on the current model ; however, it presupposes the gradual consideration of the number of believers. In addition, it puts stress on independent and self-governing economic management based on the churches own budgets. The Department of Culture says in its explanatory memorandum, that ‘the amendment is a revision of the current system of financing churches and religious societies, which is ideologically grounded in 1949 and is the subject of long-term discussions’. Based on this motion, state should contribute to church activities with an allowance that would be increased on an annual basis according to the inflation and valorisation rate. The allowance would be based on the sum of the financial resources which the state provides to the churches under the current regulation. The Ministry clarified that ‘the total allowance sum for 2020 will be divided, so that the resources in the amount of this year’s allowance will be distributed among various churches as in 2019, and the remaining amount of the total sum provided by the state will be divided proportionally to the number of church believers given in the census.’ The Ministry added that ‘the churches which were not given allowance from the state budget in 2019, or the churches registered only after the amendment will have come into effect, will receive the allowance following a request and based on the number of believers from the latest census.’

The amendment further expects that, provided two successive censuses carried out after the act will have shown decrease or increase in the number of believers by more than 10 percent, then the state can decide upon a decrease or increase in the allowance.

According to the act, the state allowance should serve as one of the means supporting the activities of churches that they manage independently. This alleviates the state from the burden to provide personal benefits to the priests and other duties that have arisen under the current financial regulations. The state should keep the right to control the management of the allowance. In addition, the amendment presupposes that the state allowance, as well as any other potential support by the state (such as subsidies), will be just one type of support and funding of the churches’ activity, and that the main sources should their own funding such as contributions from church members, from Slovak and foreign donors, rental fees from their own properties and activities, as well as profits from public collections.
The submitters believe that this change in the financing of the church would contribute to a more independent status and activities of the churches in the Slovakia. The proposed amendment takes into account recommendations accepted by the highest Christian church representatives in Slovakia, by the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia, and the conclusions of an expert committee of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. The amendment is planned to come into effect on January 1, 2020. The liberal political party SAS thinks that if the Act on the financial support of churches has to change, then the changes cannot be superficial, it has to be a basic separation of the state and the churches. ‘Therefore, if the parliament receives the current amendment proposal, we will not support it,’ said Renáta Kaščáková, SAS member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. SAS is persuaded that it is necessary to carry out a concept, in which the state’s role would be reduced to co-financing religious sacral places ; the self-financing of churches would increase significantly through their own activities, including collections. The liberals consider the legislative amendment utilitarian, and think that the main aim of the motion is to increase state subsidy to the churches and religious societies, particularly to the Catholic Church. ‘We think it is a purposeful pre-election gesture that the government temporarily needs to appeal to Slovak bishops to increase through them their influence on the believers’, added Kaščáková, who highlighted als that SAS stands for a respectable and independent position of the Church in the society.

President at the Pilgrimage in Levoča

On Sunday, July 7, the largest and oldest pilgrimage in Slovakia to Mariánska Hora near Levoča culminated with a Holy Mass celebrated by a Polish cardinal, Stanislaw Rylko. In addition to approximately 400,000 participants, the pilgrimage was attended by the Slovak President, who, among other things, said that ‘prayer is my everyday part and is above all about gratitude. I thank God for what I have been given in my life. Of course, this peace is part of me, part of my life and I will do my best to convey it to the public life.’ Read more on TA3 website.

Rainbow Pride Parade in Bratislava

On July 20, Bratislava held the 9th year of Rainbow parade. The parade was attended by thousands, the Bratislava mayor and several politicians, particularly from new political parties. It was also supported by 35 embassies recognized in Slovakia, which issued a common statement. The diplomats criticised Slovakia, and thus, some say (among which the Slovak ambassador in the USA, Ivan Kočok), they have interfered in the internal affairs of the country. Besides issuing supportive words, speakers on the stage criticised the Ministry of Culture for not subsidising the Rainbow Parade this year. Parallel to the Rainbow Parade, a pro-life march took place, organized by the initiative ‘Proud of Family’, which is against the adoption of children by homosexuals. This march was attended by tens of people including several conservative politicians (SNS and Rodina).

  • June 2019

New Christian Political Movement

In early June, the chairman of OĽaNO political party, Igor Matovič, announced the establishment of a political platform called Odvážne (Bravely). Igor Matovič aims to connect Christian voters, and offered them half of the positions available on the list of candidates of his OĽaNO party. ‘The aim is not only to take over voters of Christian democrats (KDH) and other Christian parties. On the contrary, I would like to create a space for people who cannot vote for these parties,’ said Matovič, who added that the newly established movement of ‘ordinary Christians’ shall join, ‘brave people, who feel like ordinary or imperfect Christians’. Read more on Správy Pravda website website.

Inappropriate Fees in a Parish

In June, the media published information about financial demands made to believers in Sklené Teplice. The parish priest of Sklené Teplice is convinced that every believer in the community should contribute to the church, claiming he cannot bear the costs alone. From his point of view, people should give at least one euro into the offertory box every Sunday. He also said this to a young woman, whose relative died, when she came to settle the expenses for a funeral. Read more on Správy Pravda website.

Motion to Restrict Legislation on Abortions

On 11 June, the Slovak parliament discussed a motion to restrict the existing abortion act, which enables the termination of pregnancy until 12 weeks of pregnancy. The motion was postponed to the parliamentary debates which will take place in autumn.

Te Deum at the Inauguration of the President

At the inaugural ceremony of Zuzana Čaputová into the office of a Slovak President on 15 June, a ceremonial homily was given at the ecumenical Te Deum service in St. Martin Cathedral in Bratislava. The metropolitan of Bratislava, Stanislav Zvolenský, wished the new president kindness, strength and patience. He also wished that her deeds be truly good and beneficial to all Slovak citizens. He added that what may be of help to her is ‘the heart of a woman and a mother’. Ivan Eľko from the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovak Republic, and Igor Rintel from the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Slovakia, presented similar wishes and words. At the president’s invitation, the service was attended by representatives of all registered churches in Slovakia. Te Deum was also attended by the removed archbishop Robert Bezak (who openly supported her candidature in her election campaign), who most probably participated at the ceremony at the president’s explicit invitation, even though he was seated among the representatives of civic life. A novelty was the invitation of the chairman of the Islamic Foundation in Slovakia, Mohamad Safwan Hasna. However, hosts did not seat him next to Church and religious representatives, and he did not either get the opportunity to give a speech. No form of Islam is registered as a religion in Slovakia.

Act on Language and Religion

In June, a group of parliamentary members from the liberal SAS club, Ondrej Dostál, Zuzana Zimenová, and Renáta Kaščáková, proposed to delete a provision in the Act on the State Language, which states the priority of the state language over other languages used in Slovakia. In addition, they proposed to delete a provision concerning the agenda of church and religious societies for the use of the state language. They do not consider it necessary to order any use of language for the churches, who are supposed to communicate with the public, and they think that the churches should decide for themselves. The proposers claim that ‘the main aim of the proposed motion is to leave out those provisions in the Act on the State Language, which groundlessly interfere with the free spreading of information under the pretext of state language protection’. Zuzana Škopcová, the director of SNS’ chairman (Andrej Danko) Office informed that ‘SNS will never support such a proposal’.

  • May 2019

Case of Removing Canonical Mission Goes to the European Court of Human Rights

The protestant theologian Ondrej Prostredník, whose canonical mission to teach at the Comenius University was removed in 2017 as a consequence of his appearance at the ‘Gay Pride’ in Bratislava, referred to the European Court of Human Rights. This followed after both the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession and the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic had dismissed his action. Ondrej Prostredník believed that the Slovak Republic enabled inappropriate interference of the church into the citizens’ rights to freedom of speech and to a fair trial. In its statement of 27 September 2018, the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic wrote that it does not have jurisdiction to answer the claim and, therefore, rejected it.

Motion on Discrimination of Roma in the Catholic Church

The National Criminal Agency launched an investigation into a case of the Trnava diocese, where parents did not want their children to sit next to a Roma girl in the church. On May 25 a group of local children attended their first communion in the Saint Nicolas basilica. According to the girl’s mother, a few hours before the ceremony, an incident occurred when parents refused that a Roma girl sit at a pew in front of the altar with other children. The parish of St Nicolas in Trnava refuted the claims of discrimination against the Roma girl. It said that the mother had enrolled her daughter for the first Communion too late and that, unlike the other children, the girl did not attend the preparation for the ceremony. The place she was atributed followed a seating plan. The parish explained that, despite the unpleasant reaction of some parents, the priest decided on the Saturday morning that the girl would sit among other children and, thus, refused accusations of racism.

  • April 2019

Television Fined for Disparaging Religion

On 4 April 2019, the Council for Broadcasting and Retransmission imposed a fine of 3,319 euro to a MAC TV broadcaster (J.O.J. television) for breaking the law (promoting violence and incitement to hatred, and defamation based on sex, race, skin colour, language, religion or belief, political or other views, national or social origin, national or ethnic origin) by broadcasting the satirical TV series ‘Ministers “ on 11 September 2018. In this episode, godless government representatives were preparing for a pilgrimage in Levoča (the most important pilgrimage in Slovakia) to boost their pre-election preferences. Authors made fun of the government, as well as churchgoers and their practice. Marcel Grega, the J.O.J. group’s general manager, responded in his statement that he must protest against the interpretation that the satire on politician’s attitude towards church in the ‘Ministers’ series would have deliberately defamed church, its representatives, or belief itself. From his point of view, a fine for satire is incomprehensible.

Media Coverage of Abuse in the Greek-Catholic Church

Denník N Daily, and after it also all other media, published an interview of Martina O’Connor (40), who has been living in Great Britain for more than twenty years, and is now openly speaking about sexual abuse by the present Greek-Catholic bishop Milan Chautur, whom she accused of having abused her during her childhood in the 1980s. Read more information on Denník N Daily website.

  • March 2019

Stop for Istanbul Convention

On 29 March, the Slovak parliament passed a resolution, in which it asked the government to stop the process that would have led to the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). The government shall now take all necessary steps to inform the Council of Europe, that Slovakia will not sign the Istanbul Convention. Out of the 133 present members of the Parliament who were present, 101 voted in favour of the resolution (Smer-SD, SNP, Hungarian-slovak party Most-Híd, Kotleba - ĽSNS, OĽaNO, Boris Kollár - Sme rodina and members of parliament without party affiliation). The resolution proposal was submitted by the coalition Slovak National Party (SNS).

The chairman of the National Council of the SR visitsing Pope Francis

22 March – Andrej Danko (SNP), speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and Radek Vondráček, the President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, attended an audience with Pope Francis. This visit was held on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of the death of Saint Cyril and the 95th anniversary of the birth of the Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko, who works in Vatican. Danko invited the head of the Catholic Church to visit Slovakia. The Pope accepted these invitation with understanding.

Religion in the Slovak presidential election campaign

On 16 March, the first round of the presidential election took place. Religion and the relationship of candidates to the Church and to faith became an important issue of preelection campaign. Most candidates, even those with the highest preferences scores before election (such as Čaputová, Šefčovič, Harabin, and Kotleba) declared their relationship to religion and the Church.

During his prelection campaign, Maroš Šefčovič (supported by SMER – SD), organized a meeting with the largest Churches in Slovakia, in which he voiced his support of the traditional family.

Bezák, former archbishop of Trnava, supported at the beginning of her campaign the winner of the both rounds and elected president Zuzana Čaputová. In March, a Czech Catholic priest, Tomáš Halík, also supported her. In her campaign, Zuzana Čaputová, voiced her Catholic religious belief and said that she attends Church, but considers herself spiritual and is preferably alone in Church with God.

During the presidential election campaign, the media paid attention to the separation of Church and State in the form of a survey, in which they asked every presidential candidate a question : "Should the Church be separated from the State ? "Most candidates agreed with the separation, or the need to agree on the separation with Churches.

As the President of the Slovak Republic was on March 30th elected Zuzana Čaputová was elected as the President of the Slovak Republic with 58% of votes.

The Archbishop of Trnava in the preelection campaign

10 March - Archbishop Orosch gave a Sunday sermon in Trnava cathedral, in which he spoke about the coming presidential election. In his speech, he criticized priests, who supported liberal presidential candidates, and he described the election of a liberal candidate as a deadly sin.
Igor Matovič, chairman of a political party OĽANO, criticised Orosch for his statements during a Sunday sermon.

Churches on gender ideology

4 March in Badín, a meeting of the highest representatives of Christian Churches and the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Slovakia took place with the participation of Peter Pellegrini, the Prime Minister. Representatives of Churches approved discussed a statement of gender ideology, which they rejected. They called for a return to Christian anthropology and efficient family policy. "We, the representatives of Christian Churches, would like to remind of the fact, that gender ideology is a pseudo-science stating that a human being is born gender neutral. Here, sex and gender are totally separated, while gender is considered a cultural construct. Hence, the sexual identity of a person in a society is proclaimed as a cultural product without any base in human nature."

D 23 septembre 2019    AMiroslav Tížik

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