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Spiritual care in public institutions

According to the section 9 of Act no. 308/1991 Col. on the freedom of religious belief and the status of churches and religious communities, persons performing spiritual work have the right to enter public social care, health and children’s home institutions. They have the right to enter military basis, and places where custody, custodial sentence, protective care or protective upbringing are carried out. In these institutions and organisations each person has the right to be provided with spiritual service, usually by a minister of their own choice, especially in life-treating situations. Furthermore, each person has the right to own religious and spiritual literature of their own choice.

Act no. 370/1997 Col. on military service enables soldiers to take part in religious ceremonies in military bases out of duty hours. Military chaplains have been active in the SR Army since 1994. In 1995 on the basis of the order of the Minister of Defence, the Office of Military Chaplains of the Ministry of Defence of the SR was established. The office reports directly to the Minister of Defence. It is the highest expert body on spiritual and religious matters in the organisation of the Ministry of Defence and the main conception, standard-bearing and executive body of the military and spiritual service. The Military Deanery of the SR Army General Headquarters is the main expert body charged with meeting the needs and development of spiritual and religious care for SR Army members. Details of spiritual and religious activities, their organisation and implementation, and logistics provision in the army corps, at military schools, and the duties of ministers, are regulated by an internal directive of the Ministry of Defence SR. Spiritual service is performed by military chaplains of religious denominations that have the most members in the armed forces and armed corps, that is especially the Catholic and Protestant of Augsburg Confession Churches.

The Office of Police Chaplains was established in 2002, headed by a director who reports directly to the Minister of the Interior. The office provides policemen as well as their family members with individual and collective spiritual care and liturgical services.

The Treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on spiritual service for Catholic worshippers in armed forces and armed corps of the Slovak Republic no. 648/2002 Col. came into effect on 27 November 2002. The President of the Slovak Republic ratified this agreement on 11 October 2002 and ratification charters were exchanged on 28 October 2002. On the basis of the Treaty, the Ordinariat for the armed forces and armed corps SR has been established at diocesan level, and an Ordinary has been appointed at the level of bishop. The Ordinariat has canonical and state legal personality. The Ordinary is appointed by the Holy See, he is the member of Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia, and incorporated in the SR armed forces. The agreement regulates spiritual service for Catholics in the Armed Forces SR, Police Corps, Prison and Judicial Guard, Railway Police, and for persons deprived of their freedom by the State. A similar agreement has been prepared by registered non-Catholic churches and religious communities.

Churches and religious communities have the right to establish and operate health and social service institutions, and to take part in the provision of services in public institutions. The Act on freedom of religious belief and status of churches and religious communities establishes the right of persons performing spiritual activities to enter public health and social care institutions, and children’s homes. The issues are regulated by the Basic Treaty between the SR and the Holy See, and the Agreement between the SR and registered churches and religious communities. The above-mentioned agreements broaden the access of clergy to facilities for persons with mandatory institutional rehabilitation, and State institutions for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts and other addicted persons. The conditions governing clergy activities in the above-mentioned institutions are governed by generally binding legal rules and the particularities of each specific institution, they therefore depend on individual agreements.

D 3 October 2012    AMichaela Moravcikova

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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