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April-November 2022


  • Archbishop’s Controversial Comments on the Victims of the Attack

Trnava Archbishop Jan Orosch issued an internal circular to the priests of his diocese early November that went public, where it provoked great outrage. In the document, he questioned the innocence of the victims of the attack. Although Orosch claimed that their murder had affected him and that the killer was, in his view, full of hatred, he admitted that the phrase "innocent victims" bothered him. The questions asked of the shooter’s victims indirectly linked possible drug addiction or indecent behaviour. Orosch’s words were strongly contested by the police. It described them as a gross manipulation based on lies, which dehumanises the memory of the innocent victims and, moreover, incites hatred and polarisation in society and "denies the Christian faith itself".
The Archbishop and the Slovak Bishops’ Conference (KBS) subsequently apologised to the families of the victims from Zámocká Street in Bratislava. "I touched, I repeat not publicly, but internally, on the question of inner innocence, since we are all sinners," he added. He wants to edit and reformulate. Several politicians, including representatives of Christian-oriented government parties, also commented critically on the church dignitary’s remarks.

  • New Anti-LGBTQI+ Bill

The extra-parliamentary party Progressive Slovakia (PS) has warned that another law against LGBTI+ people is being prepared in parliament. Šefan and Filip Kuffovci (elected for ĽSNS, but members of the Život party) are trying to erase LGBTI+ people from schools, advertisements and television, this time with an amendment to the school law. They state that they are copying the so-called Orbán law - the one for which the European Commission has taken Hungary to the EU Court of Justice.


  • Resolution on the Importance of Freedom of Religion

On 19 October, Parliament adopted a resolution declaring that freedom of religion, belief and conscience is one of the fundamental universal inalienable human rights and freedoms binding all humankind. The draft resolution was submitted by the members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic for OĽANO. With this resolution, the Parliament strongly opposes trends that question the importance of freedom of religion or belief as universal, fundamental and inalienable human right and freedom. It also called for the full respect for freedom of religion or belief and condemned any violence motivated by hatred based on the faith or belief of others.

The National Council also pointed to the growing intolerance towards people of other faiths, beliefs and opinions based on different ideological and value settings. It called on the Government, the European Union and international organisations to advocate for the proper tracing, documentation and investigation of all allegations of hate crimes motivated by the faith or belief of others, as well as the immediate release of all those imprisoned solely on the basis of their faith or belief. The resolution also called for regular monitoring of the situation of freedom of religion or belief and for action to be taken in favour of those suffering for their faith or belief. Effective education on the subject should also be introduced, they said.

  • LGBTI+ Symbol Banned at Christian School

The school rules of the Christian grammar school in Žilina have caused a media uproar. It contains a dress code clause which specifies which movements cannot be promoted in school. According to the school rules, pupils cannot wear clothing and accessories that promote political beliefs, Satanism, LGBTI+ or other anti-Christian groups. This lumps together the LGBTI+ community with Satanists and anti-Christian movements. The school’s defence is that they didn’t mean it and are leading pupils to tolerance. The director is sorry about the whole situation and apologises to LGBTI+ people.

  • The Murder of Members of the LGBTQI+ Community in Bratislava

On 12 October a terrorist attack has been committed, in the centre of Bratislava. A radicalised 19-year-old man shot dead two members of the Slovak LBGT+ community and wounded one woman in front of the LGBTQI+ bar Tepláreň. The violent act shook the whole of Slovakia. Shortly before his suicide, the young man posted a manifesto on the internet in which he openly espoused hatred of Jews and homosexuals and various conspiracy theories about global conspiracies such as QAnon. Given that the so-called culture war between Slovak liberal secularists and Christian conservatives has intensified greatly in the last decade, the murder was the immediate trigger for another intense round of public controversy. Although the act was condemned by politicians across the political spectrum, secular humanists and liberals began to strongly suggest a link between the homophobic sentiments, nurtured by some populist politicians. This notwithstanding the fact that the young man was clearly more influenced by the American QAnon conspiracy, which sees in Donald Trump a new-age messiah who will overthrow the Satan-driven paedophile network of politicians.

  • Bishop’s Thanks to the Leaders of the Political Parties for their Support

On 20 October, Bishop - Ordinary of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic František Rábek sent a letter of thanks to the chairmen of political parties, including the far-right Kotleba ĽSNS party, who supported the amendment to the law on entry into the clerical service in the Fire and Rescue Corps. The amendment legitimised the service that clergymen in these forces had been performing for 14 years.


  • A Conservative Summit in Bratislava

On 19 September 2022, an international meeting of conservative and Christian-oriented politicians, intellectuals, and public figures took place in Bratislava. The meeting aimed to (a) inspire the conservative environment in politics, culture and church in Slovakia, (b) create a space to meet and seek unity on substantive issues through a summit with European conservative personalities, and (c) encourage courage to stand up for Christian conservative values. Among the participants were a number of high-ranking politicians of the national political scene, such as Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Minister of Labour and Family Milan Krajniak and Government Plenipotentiary for the Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief Anna Záborská. From abroad came Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga. Not only was the event attended by high-ranking Slovak politicians, but the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family was also its official partner.

  • Catholic Activists as New Ministers

The governing crisis dragging on throughout the summer of 2022 culminated in the Sloboda a Solidaria (SaS) leaving the governing coalition, along with the resignation of their nominees from the posts. The newly appointed Minister of Education is Ján Horecký, former head of the Association of Catholic Schools and headmaster of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic United School in Bratislava. In 2020, he publicly committed himself to addressing the problems of the disparate funding arrangements from the state budget for private and religious schools, compared to state schools. Horecký believes it is essential to instil Christian values and attitudes in pupils, as he considers them to be of great social benefit. His nomination provoked mixed reactions among the public. The Christian-oriented media praised his selection. Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina) said at the 2022 Conservative Summit that he wanted a conservative politician as education minister. Secularists and humanists, in turn, pointed to the possible negative influence of Christian ideology on Slovak education, primarily on issues of sex education and the rights of LGBT+ citizens.

The new Minister of Justice is the President of the Bar Association, Viliam Karas, who has been a lawyer for the Catholic Church in property disputes. He is also privately involved in the Church, is a member of the Christian Focolare Movement and attended the Conservative Summit. He is also involved as an attorney in litigation with his own ministry, which he is currently leading.

  • The Supreme Court and the Case of the Slovak Neopagan Singer

Slovak singer Jaroslav Reborn Pagac was sentenced in September to four years in 2021 for disseminating and distributing extremist materials. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the first instance court had erred in the process of proving guilt. It ordered the court to examine whether the T-shirts with the spinning wheel (kolovrat) symbols were sold to fans, or whether they were items shared by a smaller community of extremists. There was also criticism of the court’s subjective assessment of the defendant’s appearance, which labelled him a neo-Nazi and ignored the link between his image and his pagan beliefs. The experts on pagan and extremist symbolism called by the court were not listed in the official register of experts, and their testimony failed to clearly link the symbols to neo-Nazism in all circumstances; this was also proved problematic. Pagáč’s acquittal was met with a wave of enthusiasm in the Slovak Pagan community, which feared the possible stigmatisation of the entire community by the public after the Slovak singer’s possible imprisonment.

  • Revising the Punishment of a Priest for Sexual Abuse

In July 2022, news reached the public that an unnamed Catholic priest had been sentenced to three years of probation for the sexual abuse of an underage girl for years in Dolný Kubín. The defendant pleaded guilty, regretted his actions, and agreed with the prosecutor on the amount of the sentence. The low sentence sparked waves of public outrage, which were accompanied by interviews of the attorney of the abused girl. In order to reassure the public, Prosecutor General Maroš Žilinka sanctioned the prosecutor responsible for the sentence, sending a signal for the future that low sentences in similar cases will not be accepted by the Prosecutor General’s Office.

  • Estimated Costs of Pope Francis’s Visit to Slovakia

The Secularist Association has published an estimate of the public cost of financing Pope Francis’ visit to Slovakia in September 2021. According to the authors, his visit was not only a worsening factor for the following wave of Covid, but also a major hit to the state budget. The planned budget for the visit, which lasted just under four days (12 September-15 September 2021), was originally €5.4 million and eventually grew to €7.6 million - despite the fact that the interest and number of participants in the three public events with the Pope were much smaller than originally anticipated. The distribution of the €6.1 million subsidy among municipalities and cities, the government and ministries, and archdioceses is known from the government resolution of 10 August 2021. The churches received 56.36% of this total amount. Despite the fact that the subsidies often involved large sums for which the recipients are obliged to do public procurement, none of these contracts can be traced even in the records of the Public Procurement Office, where the archbishoprics otherwise publish certain contracts. The only source of data to which the authors had access was the Ministry of the Interior’s communications with grant recipients whose accounts were challenged by the Ministry. As part of the Pope’s visit, the Trnava regional government repaired streets in Šaštín for € 200,000. The Prešov Regional Council, among other things, invoiced 30,000 scarves worth € 50,400 as part of a € 10,000 grant for the ’Promotion of the Pastoral Visit’. The "Organisational and technical provision of the Holy Father’s one-day visit" in Prešov could not do without 20,000 bottles of mineral water worth € 3,118.75 or 900 umbrellas worth € 7,598.40. In Košice, the Regional Council was happy to pay for the rental of mobile stands at a cost of €83,000, or the transport of pilgrims at a cost of €119,000. The capital city of Bratislava drew a subsidy of €49,400 for the decoration of the city, cleaning of the premises, and the provision of digital signs for traffic closures, of which €24,980.45 ended up in the IAMES sports club for the high-rise work and €4,499.70 was the cost of the platform rental. For the purpose of the visit, the Archdiocese of Košice rented premises for €182,537, including €6,000 paid for the rental of a room belonging to the Salesian Order, "as if the Salesians were not enthusiastic about the Pope’s visit and only let him into their premises for money", the authors stated. In security, the Church invested €5,366 for the construction of scaffolding for snipers and another €3,000 and €5,388 for the rental of radios. They rented a playground for 15,000 people for 8 days at a cost of €48,000. At the stadium, they rented tents for €7,359.84 and other facilities for €13,080 and €17,172.96. At Lunik IX they invested €15,825 in barriers, fences, chairs and toilets, €263.04 and €7,613.76 in tents and €5,220 in forklift rental. The Greek-Catholic Archbishopric used a subsidy of € 727 199 for the provision of the liturgy in front of the Municipal Hall in Prešov. Of this, € 8,070.48 was for the cross at the head of the tent, € 108,918 for crane work, € 31,712.70 for electrification with diesel generators, € 29,684.29 for goods and services organised by the church property manager, €38,400 floral arrangements, €106,353.60 tents in the event area, €12,000 sanitation services, €60,450 and €14,955 civil works including "bridge marking out (surveying)", €12,588 unknown "materials and services".

  • Bill Restricting Abortion

A proposal to restrict the availability of abortion, proposed by a group of OĽaNO MPs around Anna Záborská, who is the chair of the extra-parliamentary Christian Union, is ready for the autumn session of parliament. The proposal is presented as the Pregnant Women’s Assistance Act. In addition to a higher allowance for the birth of a fourth child or the introduction of the institute of a concealed pregnancy, the proposal revisits the regulation of abortion. The new proposal also goes into the intimate and private spheres, and wants to find out from women why they have chosen to have an abortion, what contraception they use and what their marital status is. The proposal also deals with formal matters, for example renaming the technical term ’abortion’ to ’termination of pregnancy’.

  • Criticism of the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Freedom

Since 8 September 2021, Anna Záborská has been protecting religious freedom in Slovakia and around the world. She was appointed to the post just days before Pope Francis arrived in Slovakia. On 8 September 2021, the government appointed Anna Záborská, a member of the National Council, as the Commissioner for the Protection of Religious Freedom. The new office under her leadership is tasked with preventing religious extremism and upholding freedom of belief in accordance with the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. The plenipotentiary can attend government meetings and inform ministers about the problems of religious minorities. During her one year in office and the seven months since the creation of her office, she has met with ministers only once, mid-April 2022. As a representative of religious freedom, she has not convinced the general public, she hardly attends public events in her new position and her office’s social network page is followed by only 300 people. DShe informs her fans online about Zambian Christians hearing the Bible in their native language for the first time, for example, or about the World Day for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In Slovakia, she has been approached by Old Catholics who have asked for her help in facilitating registration, but since the situation has not changed, they criticise her for inaction. The NGOs Ethos and the Institute of Human Rights (IHR) also have doubts about the performance of the Defender of Religious Freedom. Their representatives handed in an appeal with more than 12 thousand signatures to the government office in early September calling for the resignation of Anna Záborská. This is because the Commissioner refused to support a proposal to amend the law on the registration of churches, and that the politician continues to raise her profile by proposing laws based on religious dogmas but contradicting the opinions of experts.


  • Controversy of the Catholic bishop at the summer music festival

The popular Slovak summer music festival Pohoda has changed in the last decade from a purely musical event to a multicultural event with a literary, theatrical or artistic line-up and a varied offer of additional services. One of them was a confession space with Catholic Bishop Jozef Haľko, who also participated in the festival in the past. Unlike in previous years, the participation of a representative of the Catholic Church in the religiously neutral festival was met with strong condemnation from some festival participants. His space was sprayed with slogans in support of the LGBTI+ community and a rainbow flag was draped over the cross. Several newspapers joined in the criticism of his participation, labelling Bishop Haľko as homophobic because of a statement he issued, "kissing people of the same sex does not belong on the TV screen". He was nominated for the Homophobe of the Year “anti-award” for this statement. Under the pressure of public criticism, festival organiser Michal Kaščák retrospectively regretted Bishop Haľko’s presence in Pohoda. Catholics, Christian media, as well as the left-wing public intellectual Eduard Chmelár came to his defence.


  • New Dispute over the Conditions for Registration of Churches

The legislation on the registration of churches is disproportionate, discriminatory, and not necessary in a democratic society. This was stated after a legal analysis by former Ombudsman Mária Patakyová. She dealt with a proposal of the civil association (not registered church) of the Old Catholics in Slovakia, who demanded to assess the proportionality of the conditions set by law for the registration of churches. The former ombudsman addressed a letter to the Minister of Culture, Natalia Milanová, in which she informed her of her conclusions and proposed a change in the legislation. In response to Pataky’s recommendation, the Ministry of Culture informed that it was aware of the existence of divergent opinions of the expert community, the European Court of Human Rights and international organisations. Nevertheless, the Ministry stated that it considers the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic as decisive, and it shows that fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed equally to members of registered and unregistered churches, and that the legislator has the possibility of deciding on the numerical clause for the conditions of registration. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture stated that it had an intention to organise expert meetings with the Office of the Government Commissioner for the Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief, which would result in a responsible agreement leading to a legislative solution.

  • Annulment of sexual harassment charges against a Greek Catholic eparch

After almost 4 years, the police in Humenné (Eastern Slovakia) have dropped the criminal prosecution of Greek Catholic Eparch Milan Chautur. The church dignitary was accused of sexual abuse in 2018 by Martina Andričíková, now O’Connor, who has lived in Ireland for more than 20 years. Police closed the case, saying the act did not happen as it was reported. The woman disapproved of the decision to discontinue the prosecution, so she filed a complaint against it through her lawyer, but the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Prešov rejected it. "There is no doubt that the act for which the prosecution is being conducted did not happen. The police investigator has sufficiently justified how and why he came to the decision to discontinue it." He added that the complaint filed by the victim’s attorney was decided by the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Prešov, which dismissed the complaint as unfounded by a resolution dated 2 March 2022.
The Eparchy of Košice stated that no official opinion of the competent authorities had been sent to it yet. "In this connection, however, it may be noted that the Episcopal Office is aware that Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, had already informed Bishop Milan Chautura almost ten months before that, following the completion of the investigation, Pope Francis had annulled any ecclesiastical criminal proceedings against him. Which confirmed our conviction, which we have shared publicly since the beginning of the whole affair, that is that Bishop Chautur is innocent," responded Martin Mráz, spokesman for the Eparchy of Košice.

  • The Church’s silence on the Pope’s meeting with victims of sexual abuse

Denník Postoj reported on a meeting between Pope Francis and victims of sexual abuse that took place during the Pope’s visit to Bratislava in the autumn of 2021.The Slovak Church did not speak about the meeting until two months after the Pope’s visit, with only a brief mention in one of the discussions broadcast by the Catholic television station Lux. The Slovak victim of abuse by a priest wrote her story, which she gave to Pope Francis at the meeting in Bratislava. The Pope was so moved by the letter that he commissioned leaders to pass the story to priests and seminarians around the world. The Vatican published it in full last year, with a short introductory commentary by a high-ranking cardinal. However, the press office of the Slovak Bishops’ Conference (KBS) only published it on 30 April, and without the introductory commentary. The letter was immediately reported abroad, but not in Slovakia.


  • Continuation in Restrictions of Gender Transmission

Under the leadership of Slovak Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽANO), an unsuccessful attempt was made in April to unify the rules for the provision of health care to people in the process of a gender transition. One of the key points of the guidelines was the proposal that transgender people should no longer have to undergo castration, which would have greatly facilitated the transition process. The guidelines were opposed by representatives of conservative and Christian members of parliament (Anna Záborská, Richard Vašečka, György Gyimesi and others), who perceived them as a threat to the traditional family, which is supposed to be made up of a man and a woman. "The guideline is a breeding ground for all the progressive fanatics and rainbow organisations that go to schools to brainwash children and tell them that you are not what you were born to be. If these progressive zealots had achieved such a feat under their government, they would have plastered billboards all over the country with it. I want to guarantee to all normal people that we conservative OĽANO members of parliament will push for this methodological guideline to be changed," says György Gyimesi. Newspaper Postoj, opposed to the guideline, stresses that the approval of such a regulation would go against the image of active defenders of traditional Christian values, on which the OĽANO party relied to compete in the elections with another Christian party, KDH. Some psychiatrists and secularist initiatives also spoke negatively against the decision and the arguments of conservative politicians.

D 10 November 2022    AMichal Puchovský AMiroslav Tížik

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