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March 2022

  • Prime Minister Eduard Heger visited Pope Francis

The fifth diplomatic visit of Slovak prime minister in Vatican and meeting with the pope was passed on March 14th. It was the first visit of the Slovak premier Minister Eduard Heger in Vatican and it took place six months after the pope’s stay in Slovakia. According to the official media statement, they discussed the current war conflict in Ukraine, Heger expressed his gratitude for the pope’s visit of Slovakia in “difficult pandemic times”. Slovak prime minister also paid a tribute to pope Francis as “example of humility”. Heger visited the pope with his wife and suite, including the prominent Slovak Christian politician, Anna Záborská. They also meet with Slovaks living in Rome and working in Slovenské pápežské kolégium sv. Cyrila a Metoda in Vatican. High frequency of diplomatic meetings of Vatican with such a small country as Slovakia was also recognised in discussion of Martin Klus, Slovak assistant secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Cardinal Pietro Parolini, Vatican’s state secretary.

  • Slovak parliament refused novelisation of law about religious freedom and registration of religious communities

Slovak parliamentarian Tomáš Valášek (Progresívne Slovensko) put forward a modernisation of the law regulating the registration of religious organisations. The principal idea behind it was to reform the unbalanced rules of official registration of new groups, which are now obligated to gather 50,000 signatures of their believers. Valášek suggested creating two levels of registration. For the first step of registration, only 150 signatures of believers would be sufficient. This basic level of state approval would immediately provide the benefits of a legal status, giving to newly registered religious organisations the rights to assemble for the religious purpose, to set up buildings for religious meetings and to access state media immediately. Access to the right to a financial contribution from the state budget, as well as several other rights, would be granted to entities only after the second stage of registration. The conditions to get second level of state approval would be ten years of continuous activity and an increase of the number of believers to 1 per thousand of Slovak population (about 5 000). The novelisation also proposed to add a paragraph condemning the attempts to abuse religious freedom to interfere with the rights of other persons, most notably from LGBTI+ community and women. The goal was to emphasise the responsibility of registered churches and religious societies in creating a tolerant society.
The novelisation was not approved by the Slovak parliament. It caused media heat between secularists, small unregistered religious groups and conservative Christians. The first two groups are long-time critics of the current Slovak system of religious law, which they perceive as “too strict”. Conservative Christians have understood the novelisation as a threat to their religious freedom to criticise homosexuality and abortion from the perspective of Christian morals. They expressed concerns about foreign religion, unfitting religious buildings and possible waves of immigrants from Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist countries.

D 6 April 2022    AMichal Puchovský AMiroslav Tížik

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