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2021

May 2021: A new proposition of law to limit abortions
Seven months after the last proposition to limit abortions, another parliamentarian, Martin Čepček, came with a new one. The new law intended (...)

  • May 2021: A new proposition of law to limit abortions

Seven months after the last proposition to limit abortions, another parliamentarian, Martin Čepček, came with a new one. The new law intended to restrict abortions to women with health or psychic issues and those who had been raped, but the law was not changed. Čepček was later excluded from his political party Obyčajní ľudia a nezávislé osobnosti (OĽaNO) because he submitted the proposition without discussion with his colleagues from the coalition, and regularly voted for propositions of the opposition (including far-right political party with similar antiabortion initiatives).

  • May 2021: Continuation of disputes on the process of beatification of bishop Ján Votajššák

The topic of the beatification of Ján Vojtaššák (1877-1965) is still dividing public intellectuals since the first suggestion of glorification by John Paul I in 1995. The first beatification process was stopped in 2003; a new one started in 2019. Series of articles were written from the perspective of secular anti-fascist humanists and Catholics. Slovak Catholics are in favor of the beatification because they see Vojtaššák as a martyr of the Christian faith. This Slovak cleric was the first bishop of Roman Catholic Diocese of Spiš, one of the signatories of the Martin declarations (in which Slovak intellectuals declared their will to join Czechs in Czechoslovakia after World War One), member of Štátna rada (eng. State council) of Slovakia during World War Two. He was later sued in the made-up trial against bishops in 1951 for treason and sentenced to 24 years. Vojtaššák is an essential person in the history of Slovak Catholicism.
His critics point out his anti-Semitism. During his days in Štátna rada, Vojtaššák did not protest in the name of the Catholic Church against anti-Jewish politics and deportation of Jews.

  • July 2021: Slovak conservative politics oppose European Parliament Report Matić

The Slovak parliament released a decree against European Parliament Report Matić on the 17th of July. The note and voting were initiated by Anna Záborská, one of the most prominent Slovak Christian politic and deputee of EP. The decree says that Slovakia is not against the message of Report Matić. However, they believe that the European parliament is way beyond the competences of each individual and breaks the principle of subsidiarity.
Report Matić caused a significant discussion between conservative Christian politicians and liberal opponent across Europe. The report points out the worsening state of reproduction and sexual health in Europe, for example, the violence and stress during births or social barriers in the treatment of sterility. It criticises religiously motivated prohibition of abortions in Poland and Malta.

  • July 2021: Slovak Pagan Jaroslav Pagáč was sentenced to prison due to propagation of hateful ideology

After two years of trial (See the February 2021 Current debate), Slovak contemporary Pagan and singer Jaroslav Pagáč was sentenced to prison. He refused to make a deal with the court; claiming his innocence. He was accused of propagating hateful ideology because he sold music products bearing the symbol of the kolovrat and the rune Algiz. Both symbols are used by contemporary Pagans, but also by neo-Nazis interested in the occult side of Hitler. The court declared that these symbols are ancient and have only been used by Nazis. It found enough evidence to declare that Pagáč is a sympathizer of the ultra-right and he used these items – the kolovrat and the Agliz rune - not as religious symbols, but as political ones.
The trial had a strong resonance with the modern Slovak and even Czech Pagan community. They see Pagáč as the victim of the corrupted system, who is persecuted for his faith. For the rest of majority society, he is just another ultra-right sympathizer and they do not care about his faith.

  • July-August 2021: Pope Francis will visit Slovakia in September

Vatican News confirmed on the 4th of July 2021 that Pope Francis will visit Slovakia from the 12th to the 15th of September. He is planning to visit capital city Bratislava, pilgrim place Šaštín, Prešov, and Košice (including Roma district Luník IX). President Zuzana Čaputová already invited Pope Francis to Slovakia during her December 2020 official trip to the Vatican. However, no agreement was reached on this occasion. The rumor of the pope’s visit started to spread during spring 2021, as he planned to visit Hungary on the 11th of September to celebrate mass at the International Eucharistic Congress. The importance of the pope’s visit should not be underestimated. Pope’s Francis last official travel trip was to Iraq in March 2020; he is also getting older (85 years old) and underwent surgery in June. It is possible that one of his goals is to rekindle the faith of local Catholics and improve the image of the Catholic Church as the ban on masses during lockdowns, the media backslash against Catholic politics since 2020, and atheist campaign against Christianity during the 2021 national census could diminish the level of devotion of believers.

The announcement of the visit was first received in a positive light by the public, media and state. It is the fourth visit of the pope to Slovakia since the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Past visits received substantial media coverage and many politicians supported their image of proud traditional Slovak Catholics by attending masses celebrated by Pope John Paul II. The former pope was born in Poland and had a very positive relationship with Slovakia, leading to his immense popularity among the people.

It seems that the situation will be very similar this time. Parliamentary speaker Boris Kollár (Sme rodina/We are family), father of ten children with nine women and in the past connected with the criminal millieu, describes the information about the papal visit as “good news in difficult times which will bring some calm and hope for Slovakia”. Similar words of encouragement, a message of hope and conciliation were used in Facebook statuses by Prime Minister Eduard Heger (member of the charismatic Christian community) and president Zuzana Čaputová (former member of centrist-liberal party Progresívne Slovensko). Former Prime minister Peter Pellegrini (Hlas-SD) met with Pope Francis in 2019. He also expressed his happiness about the Catholic Church leader’s visit of Slovakia and used a similar vocabulary to Čaputová and Heger regarding the pope’s visit. Vice-premier and leader of party Za ľudí (For people) Veronika Remišová, a solid Catholic believer, wrote in her Facebook post that “she is delighted about this visit, it will give hope and revive people’s faith. It can have a similar effect to that of John Paul II’s visit to Slovakia in 1991, after forty years of communism.” She also expressed her agreement with the pope’s opinion on the necessity of vaccination against COVID-19. The national vaccination campaign only resulted in less then 50% of the population being vaccinated by mid-summer. Remišová probably hopes that pope Francis can help to persuade religious people to be vaccinated.

Some secular humanists, however, expressed their doubts about the pope’s visit. Influential leftist public intellectual Eduard Chmelár wrote in his Facebook status that reactions of politics to the visit are insincere. “They are hot for photo with pope for their social networks. But why don’t they follow his anti-military calls?”. Chmelár points out the discrepancy between actions (ignorance of the pope’s ecological and peace message) and media speeches (we love Pope Francis) of Slovak politicians.
Former leader of traditional catholic political party KDH Alojz Hlina also wrote that “[I am] glad that pope will honor Slovakia with a visit, but I am not very eager to see politicians with a shady past, former communists, those who spread hate, and ultraconservative Christian politicians who mentally still remain in the days of Rome’s former empire jostling to be photographed with the pope.”

The biggest wave of discontent was caused by the decision of the state to allow only vaccinated people to see the pope at mass public gatherings. The state hopes that this will motivate people to get vaccinated, but so far this has not happened. Similarly, people from culture, business, and sports, who face restrictions when organising mass gatherings, are saddened that the state has allowed a capacity of 400 000 people. Up to the 27th of August, around 33 000 attendees were registered to the pope’s public masses, but it would be not easy to control the Green Pass of the masses of unregistered persons who will arrive in places. The example of the pope’s visit and exception from the covid restrictions show how important it is still for politicians to demonstrate their Christian faith in public.

  • January-March 2021: Religion in the national census and national funding of religious groups

From February 15 to March 31 2021, an online census has been conducted in Slovakia. In this census, the first one in a decade, 86% of the population of Slovakia have been enumerated. The first phase of self-enumeration was followed by a phase of assisted enumeration for those who could not carry out the electronic registration themselves due to lack of computer skills and/or Internet access. Due to the pandemic, the period assigned for completing the assisted census has been prolonged until October 31st, 2021. Census questions included an inquiry about the citizens’ religious affiliation and this gave rise to a political conflict between factions with conflicting worldviews. It was mainly due to the validity of a new law regarding governmental financial assistance for the church from 2019, which states that the amount of funding allocated for church financing depends on the number of Slovak citizens declaring affiliation with the given church. An increase or drop of 10% reflects in a 10% decrease of funding for the registered denominations applying for financial assistance. In the course of the campaign before and during the census, several registered churches, most of all the Roman Catholic church, called on the population to confirm their affiliation with the church where they practice their religion or in which they were baptised. For this purpose, the Catholic Church addressed the public by its first Pastoral Letter of 2021 as well as in several media outlets. In their second Pastoral Letter issued in February, the Catholic bishops talked about census assistance offered to those without access to modern technologies. Secular circles expressed concerns about the possibility that the church may be directly influencing the population by encouraging the public to register their church affiliation, thus tampering with the impartiality and objectivity of collected data.

Ethos, an NGO of secular humanists (sekularisti.sk), led a campaign encouraging the public to check the box “without religion“ as a way of highlighting the contested method of church funding. In addition to gradual financial separation of state and church, they want to achieve a decrease of funds for direct church support. They also criticized the – failed – efforts of the Catholic Church to join the Central Census Commission.

Simultaneously, a campaign was led by groups of believers from the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession (Lutherans) for checking the option “other“ while verbally indicating Catholic, Evangelical (Lutheran), or Christian affiliation as a way of expressing their disapproval of methods of church funding.
The campaign of groups rejecting the idea of direct church funding peaked in the common statement entitled “Let’s Finish November 1989 (Giving Freedom to Churches)“, bringing together Christian group activists, secularists, an eccentric group called Alcohol’s Witnesses and the SaS liberal political party. They critically challenged the churches that encourage their non-practicing members to confirm their affiliation with their church in the census, and stated their opposition to the funding of churches by the state.

Smaller religious communities released various campaigns to motivate their believers to register their faith in the national census to strengthen their negotiation position with the state. For the first time, Islam was offered as an option. NGO Islamská nadácia published various internet newspaper articles trying to encourage Slovak Muslims to claim their faith, even if there are afraid of possible social stigma. Slovak Jews are another small religious community that was motivating their sympathizers to enter Judaism as their faith. They are attemps to slow the secularization of Slovak Jews. During the last census 2011, only 1999 of Jews of a total number around 5000 claimed to be religious. Miro Žiarslav Švický, a prominent Slovak Neopagan leader, also heavily promoted the necessity of claiming the Pagan faith under the moniker “rodné duchovno” (Native Faith) during February and March 2021. One of the main arguments was strengthening the negotiation position of the unregistered Žiarislav’s Neopagan religious group with the state.

  • January 2021: Clergy ranked among critical infrastructure workers during the pandemic

- January 20th: In his official statement, the Minister of Healthcare included in the groups receiving priority in the vaccination process members of the clergy who, according to the Ministry of Healthcare, visit medical institutions and assisted living facilities where they work in close proximity with vulnerable and high-risk groups. This statement included priests among essential frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

- January 25th: Anna Záborská, member of parliament for the OĽANO party, launched an amendment request to include the clergy among healthcare professions. According to her amendment proposal, spiritual service would be included in medical care. A wave of criticism from the ranks of medical and healthcare professionals resulted in the amendment proposal to be withdrawn.

  • February 2021

- Conference of Slovak Bishops against gender equality

As part of commenting on the proposed European guidelines on adequate minimal wage in the European Union, the Conference of Slovak Bishops (Catholic bishops) requested to leave out the words “gender equality“ and recommended for the Slovak Republic not to ratify the Convention of the International Labor Organisation on the elimination of violence and harassment in the workplace from 2019. The Convention recognises foremost the right of everyone to a work environment free from violence and harassment.

- End to coverage for abortions for women over 40 due to health-related reasons

Minister of Healthcare Marek Krajčí issued a regulation stating that women over 40 years of age having an abortion will not be covered by health insurance if requesting the procedure based on their private decision. The Minister explained that he intended to end discrimination of women based on age. Abortion is covered by health insurance for all women in the case of medical risks. Previously, however, pregnancy was considered as a medical risk for women over 40 years of age and abortion was, thus, covered by health insurance for them regardless of its motive. From now on, women over 40 will be in the same situation as younger women: if the abortion is not for medical reason, it will not be covered by health insurance and they will have to pay for the termination of pregnacy. The regulation came into effect on March 1st. Those who are against this new policy stress that it will limit access to interruption of pregnancy for woman from poor backgrounds.

- Court trial with Slovak Neopagan Jaroslav Reborn Pagáč was delayed to May 2021

The trial of Jaroslav “Reborn” Pagáč, which started in the year 2018, continued in February. The Slovak Slavic Neopagan and musician was accused of propagation and distribution of extremist symbols, together with Jakub Škrabák and Michal Buchta. They are all connected in various ways to the nationalist politic party Ľudová strana – Naše Slovensko (ĽSNS). Explicitly, Pagáč was charged with the use of symbols such as a spinning wheel (kolovrat), a black sun, the rune of life, and the rune of death. If Slovak Neopagan was declard to be guilty, he would go to prison for four years. The case raised much attention among Slovak antifascists (who produced various blogs trying to connect him with the Slovak ultra-right scene) and Slovak Neopagans (who see his charge as an attack against his religious beliefs).

  • March 2021

- Invitation of Pope Francis to visit Slovakia
March 8th: Pope Francis has expressed his intention of travelling to Slovakia. Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic, had invited Pope Francis to Slovakia during her visit to the Vatican in December 2020.

- Attempted ratification of a ban of adoption by same-sex couples
March 17th: Voting took place on a proposed bill to include the sentence “parents are solely a father – a man and a mother – a woman“, and to “ban“ a third gender as well as adoptions of children by same-sex couples.

- Protests against the closing of churches
Chairman of the Anton Tunega Foundation’s Executive Board, ex-chairman of the Christian Democratic Movement and former Commissary of the European Union Ján Figeľ stated that the banning of public worship services violates constitutional and international law. For this reason, he called on the government to amend the rules in order to allow citizens to exercise their right to freedom of religion or religious belief and its expression. He also made a motion to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as well as to the Attorney General of the Slovak Republic to submit this motion to the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic. According to Figeľ, the constitutional law does not allow the government to prohibit public worship services, which means the closing of churches.

He also refers to the constitution explicitly confirming religious freedom as a fundamental human right. Similarly, the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees a free collective exercise of religious freedom. The Head of the Conference of Slovak Bishops, Stanislav Zvolenský, made a similar statement saying that executive power in the country is limiting religious freedom in an inadequate way, addressing his standpoint to Minister of Finance and appointed Minister of Healthcare Eduard Heger of the OĽANO party, who soon after replaced the previously elected premier, Igor Matovič, in the office of Prime Minister.

According to the Conference of Slovak Bishops, on March 30 Eduard Heger promised to submit a proposal for adequately guaranteed access to individual spiritual care despite the curfew in place. He also expressed a desire to look for a solution in terms of resuming religious services with the participation of worshippers as early as possible while observing relevant safety and health standards and regulations.
As the head of the Conference of Slovak Bishops said on April 12, Slovak bishops are encouraging congregants to return to their parish churches upon the easing of anti-pandemic measures while observing health and safety guidelines. Masses and religious services are likely to resume in the upcoming days or weeks, admitting limited participation of worshippers.

From April 19, the lockdown in Slovakia was reduced and some shops, services and schools were open for public respecting the hygienic restrictions. Religious services started to be open for public with restrictions of the number of people per square meter of churches and spiritual places. Religious services have an exception from obligation for participants to have a negative COVID-19 test that the other common activities are obliged to respect.

D 2 September 2021    AMichal Puchovský AMiroslav Tížik

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 (...)

  • 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.

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."

  • 2 February 2019: Churches in the preelection presidential campaign

The Slovak parliament discussed a proposal to tighten the legislation related to abortions. This proposal was submitted by members of the parliament representing Kotleba – Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko (ĽSNS, Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia), an extreme right-wing party, and Richard Vašečka as non-party affiliated deputy. Vašečka argued the need to gradually diminish the number of abortions and proposed to render unlawful abortions performed ‘without serious reasons’. Similarly to Vašečka, members of ĽSNS also proposed to restrict abortions. However, the latter withdrew the proposal. At a gathering held to demonstrate support of the motion, Stanislav Zvolenský, the president of the CBS (Conference of Bishops of Slovakia), offered a speech.

The motion was finally rejected, since it was supported only by 46 out of 122 present members of the parliament. 31 members voted against the motion and 40 abstained from voting. No member of SaS voted for the motion. 16 votes separated the motion from getting into second reading. Marian Kotleba, the chairman of ĽSNS, withdrew his motion.

Antion Ziolkovský, Secretary of the Conference of Bishops, thanked Kotleba (ĽSNS), the presidential candidate and the chairman of the extreme right-wing party, for opening in the parliament the issue of an actual ban on abortion. He also thanked R. Fico, chairman of SMER, and A. Danko, chairmain of the Slovak National Party (SNP) and the National Council of the Slovak Republic, for allowing their members to support the motion.

  • January 2019: Strengthening the position of the Catholic Church in the State’s legislative procedure

In pursuance of changes in the governmental legislative rules, the Ministry of Justice of the Slovak Republic has put forward a proposal, on the basis of which a Conference of Bishops of Slovakia (CBS), which represents the Catholic Church in Slovakia, would become a new member of the interdepartmental commenting procedure, the tool through which a proposed motion must go. This CBS would acquire the same status as other Slovak public and state authorities. Several political parties, particularly the liberal Sloboda a Solidarita (SaS – Freedom and Solidarity), and a number of nongovernmental organizations, opposed the motion, claiming that it infringes the constitutional principles of the independence of the state and churches. So far, the status of "mandatory commenting subject" has been reserved to organizations that operate within the state’s structures (such as The Association of Towns and Communities in Slovakia, or the Slovak Academy of Sciences). Any other organization with religious, political and other agenda may also comment the legislative procedure, under the condition that it must collect 500 signatures of Slovak citizens. This motion was supported by other churches that would like to acquire a similar legal status. The Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia (ECC) as the representant of most Protestant churches, and the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Slovakia (CUJRC), regard it appropriate that CBS and ECC, which mediate the positions of all other registered churches and religious communities, would become mandatory commenting subjects, and contribute to the common good of all Slovak inhabitants. This is based on the standpoint of Stanislav Zvolenský, the president of CBS, Miloš Klátik, the general bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession, and Igor Rintel, chairman of CUJRC, in relation to the process of commenting motions.

Disunion of ministries regarding the strengthening of the position of CBS

Two ministers opposed the proposal of the Ministry of Justice of January 2019 to invite CBS to comment act proposals. Finally, the Government Office of the Slovak Republic informed that the Ministry of Justice abandoned its intention.

D 23 September 2019    AMiroslav Tížik

2018

November Statement of Church’s representatives to the election of judges to the Constitutional Court
On 14 November 2018, the highest representatives of Christian Churches and Jewish religious (...)

  • November

- Statement of Church’s representatives to the election of judges to the Constitutional Court

On 14 November 2018, the highest representatives of Christian Churches and Jewish religious communities in Slovakia held a meeting, in which they issued a statement on the election of judges to the Constitutional Court. According to church representatives, judges should “respect cultural and religious traditions of the Slovak Republic, respect the rule of law, defend religious freedom and refuse racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism”.

- In reinvestigation into the case of a bishop accused of molestation

The case of sexual abuse by the accused Greek-Catholic bishop Chautur was opened again. The prosecution office said that the case had been closed prematurely.

  • September

- Sexual harassment in the Church

In September, charges were brought against the Greek-Catholic bishop Chautur of Košice, who allegedly molested a minor.
According to the police, the act of sexual abuse did not take place. The accused himself does not feel guilty. Later, police reported that a limitation period of 20 years applies to the potential act and, therefore, it cannot be investigated as a criminal act.
Orthodox priest Ján F. is also accused of sexual molestation. According to the accusation of a retired woman from a senior house, he has supposedly locked the door and committed sexual violence.

- Presidential election campaign

Robert Bezák, the removed archbishop, appeared at the beginning of electioneering at a press conference with the presidential candidate, Zuzana Čaputová, and expressed his support to her.

- Ceremony of Anna Kolesárová’s beatification

On September 1st, Anna Kolesárová was beatified by the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Giovanni Angelo Becciu. The beatification ceremony took place in Čermeľ stadium. Around 30,000 visitors from Slovakia and abroad attended.

- International meeting of bishops and the Istanbul Convention

On September 7, a two-day meeting of the representatives of bishop councils from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the International Conference of Saints Cyril and Methodius that includes Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia, together with the highest representatives of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), took place in Bratislava. The Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Peter Pellegrini, also participated in the meeting. The truth and the culture of life were main points discussed at the meeting. All in all, four theme ranges were discussed: the problem of St. John-Paul II.’s encyclical on the basic questions of morality, euthanasia, risks when applying European law on religious freedom, and the issue of Istanbul Convention. Participants also discussed issues such as the help of the Catholic Church to refugees and migrants, differences in wages between countries of the European West and Central Europe, migration of the young, need to ensure respectable lives for the elderly, and gender ideology, which led the bishops to ask governmental representatives to refuse to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

  • August: Conflicts between a pride parade and beatification procession

Media discussed the preparation of two parades in Košice in September. The main programme of the Rainbow Pride Festival is a colourful parade through the streets of Košice, which aims to bring attention to the need for tolerance and for keeping LGBTI minority rights (the lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and the intersexual). It has been debated whether it was appropriate to hold another event in Košice on the same day, namely the beatification of Anna Kolesárová.

  • July

In July, the Conference of Bishops Slovakia released a statement on the so-called Coman Case. It refers to a case when a spouse married in Brussels was not recognized as a spouse by an EU country (Romania) that does not recognize same-sex marriages. However, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Wathelet, argues that, “even if member-states can freely decide to or not to recognize same-sex marriages, they cannot limit EU citizens’ freedom of movement by denying the same-sex spouse, a member of a non-EU country, the right for permanent address in its territory”.
In its release, the Conference of Bishops highlighted that the bond of marriage depends by whom it is formed, and appealed to the government of Slovakia to initiate changes in EU legislation: “The marriage of a man and a woman will always be the best place for raising children. It is erroneous and false to call other forms of cohabitation equal. This does not support justice, but chaos. By calling the notion “spouse” gender neutral, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has in its Coman Judgement contributed to legal and social confusion (…) Governments and state representatives in European and international structures, which participate in law-making processes, should think of the impact of their decisions. Therefore, we approach the government of the Slovak Republic and ask them to initiate changes in EU legislation, so that states are not obliged to recognize same-sex marriages (either for the purpose of residence or for other reasons).”

  • May

- Proposal to tighten abortion legislation

Members of the National Council of the Slovak Republic discussed an amendment of the abortion act submitted by members of the Marián Kotleba’s extreme right wing Ľudová Strana Naše Slovensko. The amendment suggests tightening the abortion legislation in Slovakia and banning unjustified termination of pregnancy. Terminations would be allowed only in the following cases: “if a woman’s life is endangered and the woman agrees with the abortion. In case a woman got pregnant as a result of a crime offence such as rape, the pregnancy has not lasted longer than 12 weeks and there are no health problems, which would hinder abortion, and if the woman requests abortion herself. The third case applies to an exception when the genetic development of the foetus is not correct and the pregnancy has not lasted longer than 24 weeks.”
The Council for the family of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia supported the amendment: “It is the role of the Church to protect this natural human right for life and support acts, which put this right into effect. The Council for the family of the Conference of Bishops will support any improvement of such act regardless of who has submitted it, because it is a moral and social priority to protect life and human dignity from conception to natural death.”

- Istanbul Convention

Some presidential candidates (for election in 2019) have expressed their views on the Istanbul treaty, several of them said they would support its adoption.

  • April

- Churches react to the murder of a journalist

In April, the highest representatives of Christian Churches and the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Slovakia wrote an open letter to the new Prime Minister, Peter Pellegrini (who in March replaced Robert Fico in his post), in which they reacted on the developments in the society after the murder of Ján Kuciak, opposed corruption, and expressed support to investigate the case and to the efforts of journalists searching the truth. The Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia has also released a statement on the murder of Ján Kuciak, in which it calls for investigation of the case, punishment of those responsible and dealing with corruption in the society.

- Protest against lecture by Cardinal Burkev

Human rights activists headed by Peter Weisenbacher of the Human Rights Institute prepared a silent protest against a lecture by a controversial American cardinal Raymond Leo Burkev, who appeared at the occasion of a Christian festival Bratislava Hanus Days without any opponent. According to Weisenbacher, the cardinal’s views are questionable in the area of women’s rights and LGBTI minority rights in particular. In the past, the cardinal held important posts in the Vatican, but was later removed by the Pope.

  • March

- Anna Kolesárová beatification

On 6 March 2018, the Catholic Church has officially recognized the martyrdom of Anna Kolesárová, opening a direct road to her beatification. The approval to issue a decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirming the martyrdom was given by Pope Francis at a personal audience of the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B. on 6 March. The date of the beatification festivity was set on 1 September 2018. Anna Kolesárová, a young 16-year-old girl, defended herself against rape and was killed by a Soviet soldier during WWII. A critical view appeared in the media saying the Church gives more emphasis to chastity than to life.

- Murder of a journalist and appeals of the Church to the public

In February 2018, an investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak, who worked for the news portal aktuality.sk, and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, were murdered. Ján Kuciak specialised in tax fraud suspicion.

A farewell ceremony was held by Bratislava Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský, who is also a chairman of the Conference of Bishops in Slovakia. Stanislav Zvolenský released a statement in which he called for keeping the protests in Slovakia calm: “Civic engagement that has begun to spread after the death of two young people is an important display of a sense of belonging. Questions about the future of our country are important, too. Violence and crime cannot win. They can only be removed with justice and peace.”

  • February: Istanbul Convention

In February 2018, the then Prime Minister, Robert Fico, decided not to agree with the ratification of the so-called Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, or the Istanbul Convention, is an international treaty of the Council of Europe that considers all violence against women in particular as a form of historically and culturally conditioned discrimination). His reservation was that parts of the convention are in contradiction with the constitution of the Slovak republic, which defines marriage as a union of man and woman. This decision was preceded by a statement of the representatives of Christian Churches, which was read in church. In this statement, representatives of the Churches asked the government of the Slovak republic to withdraw from signing the convention. They argued that parts of the Istanbul Convention may be regarded as manifestations of gender ideology. The statement was approved and signed by the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, the Greek-Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Reformed Church (Calvinist), the Brethren Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union, the Old Catholic Church, the Apostolic Church in Slovakia and The Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The statement was followed by another, made by public personalities, in which they ask the representatives of the Church not to mislead the public: “We appeal to Church representatives to stop vilifying the convention in front of the public and the believers by presenting misleading and untrue allegations about the alleged spreading of “gender and anti-family ideology”.

  • January

- Salaries for the representatives of the Church and fees for Church weddings

Priests and clergymen were given a rise of their basic salary in 2018. This increase in basic salaries was approved by the government in December 2017.

A fee for church weddings, of an amount of 10 euros was introduced following the requirements of the Association of Towns and Communities in Slovakia, registered and supported by the then deputy chairman of the government of Slovak Republic for information society, Peter Pellegrini. The fee was set up on 1 January 2018 and was to be paid to local register offices. Church activists initiated a petition against the fee. Róbert Kaliňák, the then Minister of the Interior, abolished the fee after an agreement with the representatives of the Forum of Religious Authorities, who argued that the fee was discriminatory since it was only collected in case of church weddings.

- Debates on separation of the Church and the State

Marek Maďarič (Smer), Minister of Culture, planned to introduce an amendment aiming at changing the financial support of churches in the first quarter of 2018. He also noted that he had not intended a total separation of the state and the Church, which he justified by the fact that Slovakia is bound by the Basic Treaty with the Holy Seat (so-called Vatican Treaty) to support the Church financially. He added that the Church is very beneficial in areas such as health care and education, and, therefore, deserves the support. This was widely criticised by the non-governmental sector, which argued that there are non-governmental organisations beneficial in those areas which do not receive financial support from the state automatically, but have to apply for it.

D 30 November 2018    AMiroslav Tížik

2017

December: Priests initiative against Istanbul Convention
Several Catholic priests have expressed their disapproval with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in front of believers. One of (...)

  • December: Priests initiative against Istanbul Convention

Several Catholic priests have expressed their disapproval with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in front of believers. One of the priests has even encouraged believers to sign a petition against the ratification in the church itself. Conference of the Bishops of Slovakia has distanced itself from the activity.

  • November

- The priest Marián Kuffa warned against gender ideology

The Catholic priest Marián Kuffa caught the attention of the public with his sermon which was heard not only in the church, but spread by youtube too. In his sermon, Marián Kuffa spoke against the Istanbul Convention: “There is no Istanbul Convention one day and then next day you wake up and gender is obligatory. And for the words I now pronounce, I will be sent to jail. I will be the first to go to the jail, but I am not afraid. They have already threatened me three times in Brussels. Police were interrogating me, so that I take back what I had said. Lock me up, who has the guts.“

- Church and politics

The theologian Ondrej Prostredník has criticized the Lutheran Church (ECAC), because, according to him, it has abandoned one of its decisive tasks – „criticize politicians, when they behave in a populist way, when their appearances touch the human dignity of minorities and refugees and when they are more interested in financial groups than in the development of health care, education, social services and justice...“ (see Komentáre SME).

The deputy of the National Council of the Slovak Republic without party affiliation, Martina Šimkovičová, which professes the Lutheran faith, criticized an activity by the Church Choir Staré mesto in Bratislava organized in cooperation with the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Faculty at the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is a conference on gender equality that took place in Malý evanjelický kostol (the small Lutheran church) in Bratislava with the attendance of theologian Ondrej Prostredník and the feminists Ellen Radtke, Jana Cviková and Oľga Pietruchová. The deputy does not like the tendency of the church to deal with LGBTI and gender issues (see Správy.Pravda).

  • October: Church reacts to extremism

The speaker of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, Martin Kramara, published a letter a few days before the county elections, as a reaction to the speeches of the extremist party ĽSNS headed by Marian Kotleba. The Bishops’ Conference has criticized the misuse of religious symbols: „What I also consider a misuse of faith is the ostentatious adding of religious symbols on political labels.“ The speaker of the Conference of Bishops has also criticized other party activities such as questioning holocaust, negative comments on refugees, compulsory vaccination and attitude towards Slovakia’s membership in NATO and EU (see Actuality.sk).

  • September: Removing Lutheran theologian’s canonical mission to teach

The Lutheran theologian Ondrej Prostredník informed the public that he was no longer going to be teaching in the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Faculty of the public Comenius University in Bratislava, because the board of Bishops of the ECAC (Lutheran Church) in Slovakia cancelled his canonical mission to teach.
In August, Ondrej Prostredník supported publicly the requirements of the LGBTI community at the so-called “Pride march” „I wish we at the Church could stop the absurd connection of the LGBTI community with the threat of the so-called traditional family. I wish we stopped discussing any minority as something that disrupts traditions, continuity and safety.“ (see domov.sme.sk)

The Lutheran bishops consider this declaration a misuse of his position. They expressed their view in a statement signed by the general bishop of Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession (ECAC), Miloš Klátik: „He misused the position of a senior lecturer at the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Faculty, and academic freedom of scientific research, to influence particularly the young Christians and students of theology in an unprecedented way, and to slowly implant in them views in contradiction with the position of the ECAC in Slovakia.“ Organizers of the Rainbow march expressed their regret about ECAC’s decision and expressed their support of Ondrej Prostredník (see Aktuality.sk).

  • August: Anniversary of the removal of archbishop Robert Bezák

At a debate held at the occasion of the removal of Robert Bezák from the position of archbishop of Trnava, Robert Bezák said that he was going to teach in a secondary school from September: „I have no knowledge that Slovak bishops have shown any interest in me. I have understood in these five years that this is the end.“...“I am going to start a new life from the beginning of the new school year. I am going to teach religion and ethics. That could become the new content of my life, my work.“ (see Aktuality.sk).

  • June: Debate on financial support of churches

On 20 June, bishops met at a plenary meeting of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, in which the then Prime Minister, Robert Fico, participated too. Archbishop Zvolenský offered a solution to the financial support of churches: „...we believe that in a short time, we will reach a satisfactory solution to the financial support of churches through a mutual dialogue. Churches and religious communities in Slovakia have debated intensively on this issue.“ (see tyzden.sk).

  • May

- Churches interested in representation in the Council of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Human Rights, Minorities and Gender Equality

Representatives of churches wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister, Robert Fico, to have permanent representation in the Council of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Human Rights, Minorities and Gender Equality. The letter was signed by the chairman of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, Stanislav Zvolenský, the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia (ECC), Miloš Klátik, and the chairman of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Slovakia, Igor Rintel. They argue that the Council is dealing with materials which arouse “strong controversy” in society, and that churches represent the majority of the society in terms of values. Regarding the Council, the secretary of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, Ziolkovský, noted that “experience from the working of the Council so far has shown that this board has left an important debate about human rights issues in the hands of a small group, whose members are predominantly liberal and do not show respect to churches and organizations which represent the majority of the society in terms of values.” The council serves as a professional advisory institute for the government, and at that time was chaired by the Ministry of Justice, Lucia Žitňanská. It deals with the protection of minorities – national, sexual or the disabled (see Správy.Pravda.sk).

- Penalties by the Catholic church for priests supporting extreme rights party

The Catholic church has punished three priests who had openly supported the ĽSNS Marian Kotleba political party. In connection with the issue of extremism and its support, the speaker of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, Martin Kramara, recalled the words of archbishop Orosch from Trnava to priests about the political persuasion of church members: „Neither public civic institutes nor the Church itself may dictate political persuasion to anybody, including its own members.“

  • April: Declaration by Robert Bezák of candidature for presidency

The former archbishop of Trnava, Robert Bezák, attended an anti-corruption festival Pucung (“clean-up”) in Košice, in which he talked about his work in the Trnava archbishopric from 2009 to 2012. „I thought that in Vatican, they are also fretful about it, that they - honestly- would interrupt Jan Sokol’s line and let Robert Bezák assume the office. But, as I saw the mess, I wanted to deal with it in favour of the institution.“ Journalists were curious about his possible candidature for president of the Slovak Republic, which he denied (see Aktuality.sk).

  • March: Catholic bishops’ declaration on demographic situation

On 7 March, the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia (CBS) published a press release on the demographic situation, in which they claim to be concerned about unfavourable demographic development as well as a growing egoism and disrespect for conceived life. The release points out the impacts of unfavourable demographic development on society and economy. Additionally, CBS made an appeal to support the family (formed by father, mother and children), which is the basic unit of the society. “Catholic Church has always taught that a working family is the primary unit of the society. We pin our hopes in families, which make large sacrifices for life. The role of a family built up by father, mother and children in the healthy grow of the society is irreplaceable. Family fulfils important tasks in social area“. CBS has appealed to the creation of a national demographic plan (see kbs.sk).

  • February: Bishops’ declaration on religion and migration

On February 21, the Conference of bishops of Slovakia representing the Catholic Church in Slovakia published a press release concerning religion and migration. It attempts to ease the worries of people about the migration crisis, and appeals for a return to humanity: „Since the meeting of two cultures is a meeting of two identities, the answer to the fear of the unknown is the strengthening of Christian identity. Migration crisis does not have to be a threat, but it certainly is a challenge to return to the roots and to genuine humanity.“ (see kbs.sk).

  • January

- Judicial proceeding between former archbishop Sokol and Týždeň weekly

Former archbishop Sokol took Týždeň weekly to court for their articles from May 2009. The articles claim that in 1998 archbishop Sokol was supposed to transfer 16.6 million euro from the sale of Catholic Church property to the account of a former secret agent (from the period of communist regime), Štefan Náhlik.

This is a new trial, after the judicial court had referred the case to be reheard again in June 2015. On 14 January 2017, an auditor testified at the trial, who reported to the police after Robert Bezák, Sokol’s successor in the position of Trnava diocese archbishop, had been removed. The report was based on findings in the accounts of archdiocese prior to the arrival of Bezák to Trnava. It was found that the archbishopric kept double accounting books. Not all items were included in the main ledger. Several unregistered accounts in diverse banks were available to archbishop Sokol, and received repeated payment transactions of large amounts of money. The balance sheet did not include all of archdiocese’s property. An audit was ordered by archbishop Bezák, who was removed from his office in 2012.

- New restriction concerning church registration in Slovakia

January 31 – Members of Slovak National Party (SNS party) initiated a re-negotiation of act amendment that for a church or religious society to be registered, it must have at least 50 000 adult members who are Slovak citizens with permanent residence in Slovakia. Since 2007, 20 000 members were necessary for registration. According to SNS party deputies, the amendment shall allow to stop providing financial resources for churches and religious societies which are not genuine. The parliament included the amendment for re-negotiation because the president of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, had not signed the adopted act and returned it to the parliament objecting that „the amendment excessively infringes basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the Slovak Republic“. The amendment was adopted and came into force on 1 March 2017 (see Aktuality.sk).

On October 26, 2016, the parliament discussed changes to the law on the registration of churches in Slovakia initiated by the Slovak National Party (SNS), which proposed to increase the condition for the registration, from 20 000 citizens of Slovak Republic to 50 000 or more. Slovakia’s far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia wanted to raise the number to 250 000, but their proposal was turned down by a majority of lawmakers.

On November 30, the law was approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament, comprising both ruling and opposition parties. Many commentators stressed that the bill effectively prevents Islam from being registered as a state religion in the near future. However, the rules valid till march 2017 were so restrictive that no new religious group could register and, thus, be recognised by the State. At the time of the debates on these rules, there were only about 2 000 Muslims of all branches of Islam in Slovakia. The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia, which has not commented on the new legislation so far, puts the number at around 5 000. The discussion of the law was part of an anti-immigration and anti-Islam discourse. "Islamization starts with a kebab and it is already under way in Bratislava, let’s realize what we can face in five to ten years", said Andrej Danko, chairman of the Slovak National Party (SNS). "We must do everything we can so that no mosque is built in the future", he was also quoted. Strong anti-Islam discourse started during the election campaign in the spring of 2016, mostly raised by the far-right-wing party of Marian Kotleba ĽSNS. On December 20, 2016, Slovak President Andrej Kiska refused to sign the new law on the registration of churches in Slovakia. On January 31, 2017, the bill was discussed again, and it was approved by 103 out of the 143 present deputies of the National Council of Slovak Republic. This change is considered a closing of an already blocked door, preventing all new and small religious groups in Slovakia to be recognised by the State.

D 11 December 2017    AMiroslav Tížik

2016

2016: Religion and ethics of the family
The question of the family and sexual ethics has been one of the concerns in Slovakia in 2016. It was also one of the trends in the campaign before the (...)

2016: Religion and ethics of the family

The question of the family and sexual ethics has been one of the concerns in Slovakia in 2016. It was also one of the trends in the campaign before the national elections.

The Church leaders very often expressed conservative points of view on this matter. In February, the Conference of Slovak Bishops (KBS) presented Ten Points for a better Slovakia, a document for political candidates in the pre-election campaign. One of the points was to refuse the so-called Istanbul Convention against domestic violence and violence against women, claiming that it is an instrument of gender ideology in Europe. KBS also asked that all legislation on the family would include the phrase "the basis of every family is formed through marriage between a man and a woman", and asked for a stricter regulation of abortions. The Church also took position concerning politics: on April 25 the Archbishop of Trnava asked Catholic priests not to support any liberal political party or movement, left or right wing. According to him, liberal parties spread gender ideology, support LGBTI, voluntary termination of pregnancy, and other amoral issues. On September 8-9th two-day of formal discussions were held by the Bishops’ conferences from Central and Eastern Europe, entitled "Migration Crisis and the Family". During the summit the Slovak Parliamentary Speaker Andrej Danko, the head of the Slovak National Party (SNS), claimed that he would try to thwart the introduction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) values in Slovakia. Danko also declared that “I’m proud to live in a country predominantly inhabited by people of faith and Christian values.” On September 15th, at the occasion of the national Catholic pilgrimage to Šaštín the archbishop Bober criticized in his speech on the family the media, sociologists and others for promoting non-stereotypical model of family. He accused the media of supporting and spreading the so-called gender ideology under which Christians in Slovakia should be excluded in the society.

At the same time, some members of the Slovakian society express promotion of same-sex couples. On July 30, the Rainbow (Dúhový) Pride returned to the streets of the Bratislava, with the goal to render life partnership available for all. This year, the parade was connected with the campaign Life Partnership, aiming at winning the public’s support for legalising same-sex partnerships and their families. As a reaction, the Christian initiative Proud of the Family (Hrdí na rodinu), established by the same people as Alliance for Family and Voice for Family, formed a live chain to support the “traditional family”.

Mid-September, Slovak Christian activists launched a new initiative called Mum, dad and kids against same-sex marriages in the EU. They claim that terms like "marriage between a man and a woman", "family based on marriage" or "parentship and the family relationship between parents and children" should be a baseline for all EU member states. The initiative is connected with the Slovak Alliance for Family which had initiated the referendum on family in 2015. The new initiative is aimed at the individual decision-making of member countries about children’s education and the reduction of divorces in the EU. The system should insert clear, but minimal content that encompasses all terms applicable to all countries in any regulation issued by the UE containing words like marriage or family. The countries could add “additional terms”, including the approval of same-sex marriages. However, the initiative must collect a Million signatures by December 10th, while in seven countries it must meet a certain minimum. Currently, it has more than 100,000 online signatures and about 80,000 signatures on paper. People can support the initiative on the website or use paper forms (source: The Slovak Spectator and Otcamamudetom).

Finally, a young chaplain, Jakub Pavlús, attracted the attention of Slovak media at the beginning of August. His mission in the Evangelical Church in Slovakia (a Lutheran church) was terminated because of his public statement against the referendum on Family in 2015, which he and other signatories deemed intolerant of homosexuals. The bishops of the Slovak Evangelical church considered this approach as inappropriate, and did not prolong his contract with the church. Jakub Pavlús received an important public and mediatic support, and a petition was signed by various personalities including Lutherans. Jakub Pavlús was then accepted for a mission in the Church of Brethren in Czech Republic.

D 20 October 2016    AMiroslav Tížik

2015

October
1. Unsuccessful proposal to separate State and Church
On 6 October, opposition deputies Daniel Krajcer, Martin Chren, Juraj Miškov and Jozef Kollár (all without party affiliation) (...)

  • October

1. Unsuccessful proposal to separate State and Church

On 6 October, opposition deputies Daniel Krajcer, Martin Chren, Juraj Miškov and Jozef Kollár (all without party affiliation) proposed an amendment to the income tax act that aimed to bring financial separation of State and Church and change financing mechanism valid since 1949. Their proposal was not supported by the Parliament. The deputies proposed to change the indirect financing mechanism to a direct one through a tax assignment, which would lead to establishing a direct relationship between citizens, churches and charity organizations. Money unassigned to a particular church would be remitted to a new founded Cultural Heritage Reconstruction Fund. Fund would use the acquired financial means to reconstruct national cultural monuments, both Church and secular while sharing the means fifty-fifty. The parliamentary majority decided not to change the financing mechanism of Churches, meaning that these will remain financed from the state budget.

2. Alliance for Family influences politicians

Organizers of the National March for Life approached the political parties on 8 October, and asked them to include their proposals into their election programmes. Thirty specific proposals focus on three areas: improvement of legal status of the protection of life, improvement of the help for unborn children and pregnant women at risk of abortion, and improvement of family policy and status of families with children. March organizers plan to analyse election programmes after their release and prepare recommendations for voters based on the analysis. Representatives of marchers asked the President, the Prime Ministers and the Head of the Parliament for a meeting.

3. Survey on tolerance to registered partnership

On 8 October, the results of survey conducted by the Focus polling agency on accepting the registered homosexual partnership from August 2015 were published. The majority of citizens indicated that they support "life partnerships" which would be officially approved by the state for people who cannot or do not want to marry. The question was: “Do you agree that couples who don’t want to, or cannot, be married could have the possibility of having a life partnership approved by the state which would regulate the practical questions of their coexistence (particularly their shared rights and responsibilities) as several other European countries offer?” with 50.4 percent of respondents saying yes. The survey was ordered by the Life Partnership Platform consisting of 39 NGOs who promote this idea.

4. Protest against registered partnership

On 14 October, the civic association The Alliance for Family (AZR) expressed concern regarding the gradual steps of the ruling Smer party that are leading to the introduction of registered same-sex partnerships generally connected with adoptions by same-sex couples. The Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) also asked the Minister of Justice Tomáš Borec to stop the Action Plan for LGBTI people for the years 2016-19 that is now in the phase of being open for discussion by various ministries. The Justice Ministry reacted by stating that the LGBTI Action Plan does not contain any proposal to introduce the institute of registered partnerships and no changes to the way children are adopted. The Conservatives also argue that the Leftists are planning to make “hate speech” punishable. It concerns statements that the Court may describe as homophobic. Opposition KDH took the same stand to the issue and claimed that the Action Plan violates the rights of parents. They disagree with school informing children about the so-called gender identity. The head of the KDH Ján Figeľ also sent a letter to the Minister of Justice with an appeal to halt any further steps in the preparation of the document. The leader of the Christians writes in his letter, “The paper keeps on creating further special, privileged, and extra rights for a narrow group of people based on sexual orientation and the so-called gender identity”.

5. Archbishop Imrich abdicated

The Conference of Bishops of Slovakia confirmed on 15 October that the bishop Andrej Imrich had abdicated.
This is the most serious personnel event in the Slovak Church since Robert Bezák’s removal from the position of Trnava archbishop in summer 2012. The 67-year old Imrich did not abdicate for reasons of great age, because the age limit for compulsory abdication of bishops is 75 years. Even though it may include health reasons, various sources claim that he decided to abdicate due to his disagreement with the management of the diocese.

6. Death of Cardinal Korec

Bishop Emeritus of Nitra and Cardinal Ján Chryzostom Korec passed away in Nitra on 24 October, at the age of 91. He was the first Slovak representative to be a member of the College of Cardinals. The communist regime sentenced him to 12 years in prison for treason because of his religious activities. Following his release, he worked as a lift repairman. After the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the communist regime in 1989, he became rector of the Priests’ Seminary in Bratislava. He was appointed later bishop of the Nitra diocese by Pope John Paul II on February 6, 1990. Korec was appointed cardinal by the same Pope on June 28, 1991. He was in the position of the head of the Nitra diocese until 2005.
The burial service, held on October 31, was attended by the President of the Slovak Republic Andrej Kiska, the Prime Minister Robert Fico, Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak republic Peter Pellegrini, and other representatives of the government and political life.

7. Abortion only for mothers in danger

On 28 October, deputies Štefan Kuffa, Marián Kvasnička and Jozef Mikloško proposed an amendment to the Constitution, which aims to ban any deliberate abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, any induced intervention resulting in the division of human eggs, artificial insemination, assisted reproduction as well as registered partnerships.
They submitted 68 amendments to the Constitution at the National Council session. In a related proposal, they demand the abolishment of the current act on induced abortion. Opposition deputies admit abortion only in cases of the mother’s life being imminently endangered. Furthermore, deputies demand banning postmaturity, eugenic practices to people and unborn children, third party assisted reproductive technologies, or any cloning of people and unborn children. In connection with the proposed ban of registered partnerships, they demand including the following sentence into the Constitution: “Legal order of the Slovak Republic cannot confer special protection, special rights and special duties, which the legal order of the Slovak Republic grants to marriage and husband and wife to any other cohabitation of persons besides marriage and any other persons besides husbands and wives. Registered partnership is forbidden.”

  • September

1. Salvation Army in Slovakia

On 5 September, the Christian movement Salvation Army started to perform officially in Slovakia. It is supposed to provide social and religious services. It had provided services in Slovakia up to that date through a civic organization. Salvation Army works in three localities – in Bratislava, Plavecký Štvrtok and in Galanta. It acted in Slovakia already in 1921 after founding its first congregation. In 1950, the Communist regime brought end to its activities. Following the attempts to restore its activities during the Czechoslovak Federal Republic in 1990, it began negotiating with Slovak state representatives to make its activities legal. However, their attempts were halted by the separation of the republic.
In 2013, two Salvation Army volunteers laid the foundations of its contemporary work in Slovakia. During the same period, Salvation Army was approached by a civic organization The Word of Life with a request to take over the services and work carried out by the Salvation Army in Roma settlements. Slovak legislation does not make it possible for Salvation Army to register as a Church, because it has not reached an adequate number of members. Therefore, it was registered as a civic organization in August 2014.

2. Unofficial support for refugees from the Catholic Church

On the occasion of the Our Lady of Seven Sorrows celebration, on 15 September, archbishop Cyril Vasiľ called on believers who attended the traditional pilgrimage to Šaštín not to allow heartlessness to hide behind false patriotism, pseudo-Christian labels or fear. In the homily delivered during mass in Šaštín, Vasiľ stressed, “When looking at the state of our society in recent months we watch with surprise how easily and quickly we can suppress in our hearts sympathy, generosity, solidarity,” as quoted by SITA agency. “It is enough to look at how in a few weeks the influx of heartless fear has changed the general human feeling in a nation which has always been considered generous.” He stressed that in the past few months, our hearts have hardened with fear over who is knocking on our door, over every refugee regardless of whether they are terrorists and speculators or not. According to his own words, we forgot that we had also migrated because of poverty and political pressure and that also in these days Slovaks were looking for a better life abroad.

3. Prime Minister Fico refused the separation of State and Church

On 17 September, the online newspaper Aktualne.sk informed about the declaration of the Prime Minister, who refused the separation of the State and the Church. Prime Minister Robert Fico declared his decisions at the occasion of a theological conference “Reformation and politics” held by the Evangelical Church of Augsburg Confession in Trnava. According to Fico, it is mostly opposition politicians, in search of some kind of a scheme or an issue, who voice the separation of Church. He said, “In our state, we need peace and stability, and a well-balanced relationship between the state and individual churches and religious societies” adding that there is a first-rate dialogue between his government and the religious community. He believes it is natural, since the ruling Smer party adheres to social and democratic values. He expressed thanks for the large amount of activities executed in Slovakia by individual churches – from education to charity and assistance. “This symbiosis must continue”, said Fico. Prime Minister highlighted the approach of religious communities to the issue of immigration clarifying that “they provide certain capacities in voluntary integration of immigrants”. In the end, Fico reminded that people with similar way of life and traditions adapt themselves with the most ease. “I stand by my opinion that a Syrian Christian is much closer to us than a Syrian Muslim, who maintains completely different tradition” (more on Aktuality).

4. National March for Life

In spite of actual discussion and protests against corruption or immigration, thousands of people participated on the second National March for Life that took place in Bratislava on 20 September. An event, with a declared purpose to push for amending legislation covering the protection of life and to help pregnant women in a crisis situation and need, according to organisers drew about 70,000-80, 000 people from Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic. Organised by the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia (KBS) and supported by dozens of Christian organisations, including the Alliance for Family (which organised the failed February referendum on family issues) the March included a host of events taking place in the capital’s downtown area. The organisers also called on public officials, particularly parliament deputies, the government, the President and other state institutions to create legislative conditions to protect human life; to protect the bond of a man and a woman; to create mechanisms and economic and social conditions, in which families may give birth and raise children; and to support institutions to help families in need and pregnant women.

5. New Old Metropolitan of the Slovak Catholic Church

On 20 and 21 September, the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia held a meeting attended by fifteen Catholic bishops, who selected in their midst new functionaries into the Conference of Bishops. Mons. Stanislav Zvolenský was again elected the chairman of the Conference of Bishops. The mandate is for the period of three years. The office of the deputy chairman will be performed by Košice archbishop metropolitan Mons. Bernard Bober also for the following three years.

6. The Rainbow pride in Košice

The Rainbow Pride took place on 26 September with the slogan “The Rainbow Connects Us” in Košice. About 200 participants, mainly young people, attended the march, which took place in the same town as the Christian National March for Life organized only two years before. A group of opponents was awaiting the protest, but the event passed off without incidents. The parade’s aim was to show support for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual (LGBTI) community and make them more visible to the public.

  • August

1. Slovakia opens to Christian refugees only

On 20 August, the government of the Slovak Republic declared it will take in struggling migrants from Syria and other countries under the European Union scheme to share the burden of 40,000 new arrivals to the continent, but stipulated it will only be taking Christians, and not Muslims.

  • July

1. Proposition of new Bank Holiday

Deputies in Parliament Ľudovít Kaník of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and Peter Osuský of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) proposed an amendment to an act on commemorative days. According to their proposition the now commemorative day marking the creation of Czechoslovakia on 28 October (1918) should have been turned into a bank holiday paying tribute to Milan Rastislav Štefánik, a Slovak who played an important role in the creation of a joint state of Czechs and Slovaks in 1918. The new bank holiday was to be called ‘Day of Tribute to the Work of Milan Rastislav Štefánik – the Founding of Czechoslovakia’. The deputies did not want to increase the number of bank holidays, but only to relegate The Constitution Day celebrated on 1 September to a mere commemorative day, thereby making it a working day. This proposition was not accepted by the Parliament.

  • June

1. Audit at Catholic University in Ružomberok

The KPMG company declared in its report many serious managerial failures, ineffective running and immoral behaviour in the running of Catholic University in Ružomberok during 2010-2013 period. The Conference of Bishops of Slovakia (KBS), which founded the confessional public university (financed by the state), ordered the audit after six university employees received bonuses amounting to €114,028 in 2013. The bonuses were ranging from €10,000 to €30,000 (the average salary at universities in Slovakia is about 1000 euros per month). Previous internal inspections and audit of external firm revealed several instances of possible fraud. Police have also investigated. There was also an inappropriately high number of post-doctoral degrees awarded in a short period, with many of the recipients hailing from Poland. Polish media reported on the case pointing to fees at the university violating the law and to forging of official documents about their payments.

2. Decision of dispute on Archbishop Sokol

The senate of the Slovak Constitutional Court decided that in the dispute between Trnava Archbishop Ján Sokol and the publisher of the Týždeň weekly, rights of Ján Sokol were breached. Sokol, who was registered as an agent of the Communist era secret service (ŠtB), transferred half a billion Slovak Crowns (about 15 million euros) from the sale of church assets to the account of ex-ŠtB agent Štefan Náhlik. Sokol, who sued the publisher of Týždeň, demanded €50,000 in non-material damage. Štefan Hríb, chief Editor of Týždeň, wrote in May 2009 that the money came from sale of church’s assets, the land under Tesco supermarket at Zlaté piesky in Bratislava. Sokol denied the amount from the very beginning and claimed that nobody got any kickback for the sale.

  • May

1. Decision on freedom of expression

The decision of the district prosecutor’s office in Prešov (regional capital in eastern Slovakia) considered the homily of Greek Catholic priest Rastislav Baka which he served on 14 January, before the February 2015 referendum on family, as not hateful and not violating any laws of Slovak Republic. The regional Radio Regina, which is part of the public service RTVS, refused to broadcast the homily before the referendum, as it, in its opinion, violated the broadcast rules. The Radio Regina refused to broadcast his homily because it was considered to be using hate speech against homosexuals. The Greek Catholic Church is now asking RTVS for an apology. The decision of prosecutor also allows Baka to ask for compensation of the caused damages. However, the priest already said he would not do it. By his own account, with his homily he only responded to the events in the society adding that he was forgiving those who harmed him with their statements. The RTVS stressed that the prosecutor’s office inspected the actions of the specific person, rather than RTVS violating some rights. Though the homily did not violate any rules, it does not mean that by broadcasting it, no laws RTVS has to observe would have been breached.

2. Bishops on the visit of their ex-colleague in the Vatican

The press department of the Conference of Slovak Bishops (KBS) stressed on 17 May 2015 that the meeting of Trnava Archbishop Róbert Bezák, accompanied by Prague Cardinal Miroslav Vlk on 10 April in the Vatican City was of a private nature.

3. Protest for limitation of freedom

Just a few months after the unsuccessful referendum on family, the Alliance for Family (AZR) published their statement on the decision of parliament, which refused to grant the right to parents and children to refuse to attend the lessons that focus on sexual behaviour. Such a proposal was part of two draft amendments submitted to the parliament by the political opposition. Alliance for Family (AZR) called it as a closing of the door to parents’ freedoms.
The deputies for the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), who submitted one of the bills, wanted to make the attendance at reading where euthanasia was discussed voluntary. They proposed not to sanction the absence or compensate it by presence on another subject. The latter bill, submitted by ex-OĽaNO deputy Alojz Hlina, suggested that the school has to inform parents about its intention to increase the number of sexual education lessons. The Alliance (AZR) responded that refusal of the two amendments means that the parliament decision ignored the requirement of nearly 900,000 people who agreed in the February referendum on family with the claim that the schools cannot demand pupils to attend the lessons on sexual behaviour and euthanasia.

  • April:

1. President´s visit to Vatican

The President of the Slovak Republic Andrej Kiska has payed a visit to Vatican on 9 April 2015. Just a few days before the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic restoration of relations between the Holy See and the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, on 19 April 1990, following the first visit of St. John Paul II’s of the country he was received in audience by the Pope Francis. Subsequently he met with Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Relations with States, in the Secretariat of State. During the discussions a satisfaction was expressed for the good bilateral relations sealed by the Agreements in force, and by the fruitful dialogue between the Church and the civil authorities (more on News.Va). According the President Office’s press release: “Official visit of Andrej Kiska to the Vatican confirms the high level of relations between Slovak Republic and the Vatican as well as [relationship between] the state and the Catholic Church in Slovakia,”. The aim of the visit is to evaluate the current state of mutual cooperation and point to new possibilities on how to improve it (more on the Slovak Spectator).

2. Meeting of a Slovak dismissed archbishop with the Pope

Pope Francis received dismissed Slovak archibishop Robert Bezák on 10th April 2015. The information about the reception was carried by the Vatican press center and the Vatican Insider server. They did not say what the Pope and Bezák spoke about. The popular archibishop of Trnava Robert Bezák was dissmissed from his post by Pope Franci´s predecessor Benedict XVI in 2012. The church in unofficial statement criticized the presence of homosexual priests in his surroundings and his stance on certain church issues. The Vatican had also objections to Bezák often wearing civilian clothing, saying this discredited the church attire. But The Vatican were no given any official reasons for Bezák´s dismissal.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska also spoke about Bezák with Pope Francis during his first visit to the Vatican a day before this meeting. Kiska did not elaborate on the contents of his talks with the Pope on the issue (more on Prague Post).

  • February:

1. Referendum on same-sex marriage and parenthood

On 7 February 2015 a referendum on same-sex marriage, adoption of children by homosexual couples, and sexual education was held. The decision was made by the President of the Slovak Republic on 27 November 2014, after the Constitutional Court had stated that three out of four questions proposed by the initiators were not incompatible with the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. In response to the constitutional challenge, the American Evangelical group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief in the Slovak court.

Critics claim that the referendum was pushed by religious and conservative organisations, aiming at preventing gay couples from gaining more rights. The referendum was initiated in 2014 after the mostly Catholic church-backed group Alliance for Family gathered 400,000 signatures calling for a vote on the law. The Conference of Bishops of Slovakia organised anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia rallies (the last one on September 2014) that overwhelmingly supported the move.

Despite conservative groups receiving the support of Pope Francis and spending €110,000 on the campaign, the referendum failed: only 21.4% of citizens cast a vote, therefore was deemed invalid (voter turnout must be at least 50%).

Supporters of the referendum campaigned predominantly in churches, with the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia raising funds for the campaign. The vote cost more than €6.3 million to run, and has led conservative groups to spend around €110,000 on advertisements. The Christian conservative activism platform CitizenGo, run by Brian S. Brown, the American founder of the National Organisation for Marriage has supported the referendum.

In June 2014, the Slovakia National Council amended the country’s constitution to specifically deny same sex couples the legal protections associated with marriage.

Voters were asked questions on three issues:
- Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?
- Do you agree that same-sex couples or groups should not be allowed to adopt and raise children?
- Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in education pertaining to sexual behaviour or euthanasia, if the children or their parents don’t agree?

Slovakia’s LGBT groups, which are smaller and less organised than their opponents, encouraged people not to vote at all, for fear that "no" voters might push turnout over 50%.

Results of referendum (from 21,4% votes):

Question For Against Invalid/blank Total Registered
voters
Turnout
Votes % Votes %
Question 1 – marriage 892,719 94.50 39,088 4.13 12,867 944,674 4,411,529 21.41
Question 2 – adoption 873,224 92.43 52,389 5.54 19,061
Question 3 – sex education 853,241 90.32 69,349 7.34 22,084
Source: Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic

More on the referendum and discourse before and after it on see Wikipedia.

2. Discussions on the separation of the State and the churches

Just after this referendum, in February 2015, civic initiatives and public discussion on the separation of the State and the churches, or at least on their financial separation, has started in Slovakia.

D 17 November 2015    AMiroslav Tížik

2014

August 2014: State-Church Relation
After the Institute for Sociology of Slovak Academy of Sciences published the results of survey on opinions about relations of the state and churches and on (...)

  • August 2014: State-Church Relation

After the Institute for Sociology of Slovak Academy of Sciences published the results of survey on opinions about relations of the state and churches and on the role of the churches and priests in public life in August 2014, the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia set off a discrediting campaign against the objectiveness of the survey and after that announced that in case of a separation of church and state would insist on further property restitution from the state.

  • 4th July 2014: Amendment of the Slovak Constitution, article 41, section 1 on marriage

Amendment of the Slovak Constitution, article 41, section 1 on marriage: members of the ruling SMER-Social Democracy party supported by the opposing Christian Democratic Movement enforced change in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic: „Marriage is a unique union between a man and a woman. It is generally protected by the Slovak Republic, which contributes to its good. Marriage, parenthood and the family are under the protection of the law. The special protection of children and minors is guaranteed“.

  • May 2014: Referendum for the financial separation of Church and State

On 6th May, a petition was initiated to hold a referendum for the financial separation of Church and State. It was co-organized by a small Civic Left Party, which also nominated a (unsuccessful) candidate in the elections into the European parliament. Nevertheless, after the petition officially started no other activities of the organizing committee were observed. Also, there are no petition results known.

  • April 2014: Catholic petition against same-sex marriage

Alliance for Family (Aliancia za rodinu), a Catholic non-governmental organization initiated a petition for a referendum to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, to let parents decide about sexual education, about cultural and ethical issues and euthanasia, to forbid homosexual couples the adoption of children and to ban homosexual union from gaining the status of marriage. On 27 August 2014, organizers submitted the President more than 350 000 required signatures with the aim to organize the referendum along with local government elections to be held in November 2014. However, the President asked the Constitutional Court for an interpretation if such a referendum does not contravene the Constitution of the Slovak Republic.

  • March 2014: Religion and elections

Religion turned out to be a significant issue in the direct election campaign for the Slovak president (first round on 15 March 2014 and second on 29 March 2014). Former member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and the current Prime Minister Robert Fico talked in his pre-election campaign about his Catholic childhood and with a support from the media called his rival Andrej Kiska, who was then elected a president, a scientologist. Kiska took it long to urgently dissociate himself from it. This campaign started an intense public discussion on sects and their threats and manipulation. Debates stopped after the election campaign ended.

Some of the results of this survey given for a press conference are available on line (in Slovak), and parts of the campaign agains the results are also available (in Slovak).

D 24 September 2014    AMiroslav Tížik

2013

December 2013: Pastoral letter against gender ideology and homosexuals
On 1 December 2013, the first Sunday of Advent, a pastoral letter by bishops was read in all Catholic Churches in Slovakia. (...)

  • December 2013: Pastoral letter against gender ideology and homosexuals

On 1 December 2013, the first Sunday of Advent, a pastoral letter by bishops was read in all Catholic Churches in Slovakia. In this letter, the Church repeatedly mentioned the "so-called culture of death" and "Divine punishment for the promotion of homosexual relationships". Slovak bishops attacked the policy related to gender equality and homosexually oriented people. The letter states: "Family does not have to survive in Europe. It can be crippled by a man and this is happening at the moment. Players in the culture of death want to deprive man of his man identity, woman of her woman identity and family of its family identity...". The phrase “culture of death” appears as much as eleven times in a two-pages letter. According to the letter, gender equality activists seek to foist Sodom ideology upon education. The letter was published only four months before presidential elections (15 March 2014). It also affirms that politicians who do not support "culture of life" do not act in accordance with the teachings of the Church and are advocates of the "culture of death".

  • September 2013: Catholic March for Life and change in constitution

On 22 September, Košice, the second biggest town in Slovakia, which was designated to be the European Capital of Culture for 2013, held a National March for Life attended by roughly 70 thousand participants mostly from Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic. This pro-life event organized by the Catholic Church approached the politicians with requests to prohibit abortions by constitutional amendment, preserve "respect for life from conception to natural death" and constitutional protection of traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

D 18 December 2013    AMiroslav Tížik

2012

December 2012: Searching for a new model for the finance of the churches by the state The Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance of Slovak (...)

  • December 2012: Searching for a new model for the finance of the churches by the state

The Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance of Slovak Republic set up an expert group which assembled to solve the issue of the state financial support to the churches and religious societies. Goal of the meeting was to search for a model to separate financially church and the state and to search for a better model of financing churches in Slovakia. In order to do this, the executive requires an inventory of the property value from churches. However, government did not come to an agreement even in the following session in February 2013, although it has still declared an interest to change the financing scheme of churches in Slovakia.

  • July 2012: Removal of the Archbishop Bezák

On 2 July 2012, Pope Benedict XVI removed archbishop Bezák from the management of Trnava archdiocese. His decision was based on an apostolic visitation from 22 January to 1 February 2012. Bezák’s first steps after assuming the office in June 2009 included the planning of a financial audit. Several months later, in September 2009, Bezák notified Vatican of the economic problems in the diocese and demanded inspection. Suspicions related to financial transactions during the office of his predecessor Jan Sokol, particularly the selling of Church property to the Tesco Company, were also inspected by the Anti-Corruption Institute following the decision of the Police President. During his office, Bezák initiated several projects to open the diocese to the public. From 22 January to 1 February, apostolic visitation was held in the Trnava archdiocese. According to the statement made by the apostolic nunciature in Slovakia published in the name of the Holy See on 9 July 2012, apostolic visitation had been executed "because of numerous initiatives regarding pastoral situation sent directly to the Holy See by priests and believers". Based on the results of the visitation, Róbert Bezák was asked to provide a statement, which was expressed by a letter to the Congregation for Bishops. Documents published by TA3 television say that Vatican was interested in personal, economic, and catechismal issues (such as celibacy, euthanasia, premarital relationships, women priests).
According to the statement of the nunciature from 9 July 2012, after careful consideration and prayers Pope Benedict XVI asked archbishop Bezák to resign. At the same time, it was agreed that Bezák meets the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. However, this meeting did not take place. Róbert Bezák refused to resign. After that, Pope removed Bezák from the pastoral management of the Trnava Archdiocese effective from 2 July 2012. This removal produced mass reaction among Slovak citizens and attracted media attention. A week later, on 10 July 2012, the Bishop’s Conference of Slovakia published a statement announcing that it "accepts Holy Father’s decision with deep respect and filial obedience and appeals to all for accepting Holy Father’s decision with respect and trust". The statement also highlighted that the involved are acquainted with the results of apostolic visitation and that these shall be treated with confidentiality. The Bishop’s Conference of Slovakia (KBS) accepted the decision about the removal of Bezák without reservation.
Doubts, whether Bezák had really been removed by the Pope, were dispelled by Benedict XVI in his letter from 18 October 2012 to the Chairman of the KBS Stanislav Zvolenský, in which he thanked him for "the show of deep church community [...] after the painful matter with the H. Ex. Mons. Róbert Bezák CSsR". In this letter, Pope states explicitly: "I have acquainted myself carefully and objectively with a serious and disturbing situation. After a long prayer, I could not avoid the duty resulting from love to restore an efficient collegiality among you and an organized pastoral management in the Trnava archdiocese, in the authentic spirit of The Second Vatican Council." During the pilgrimage to Šaštín at the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on 15 September 2012, several pilgrimage participants expressed their support for Bezák by banners and billboards.
MVK survey Agency, which organized virtual presidential election in January 2013, included Róbert Bezák among the candidates. He won the virtual elections with a score of 35,3 %, which is 6 % more than the current prime minister Robert Fico who obtained 29,0 %.
In May 2013, a petition was sent to Pope Francis. It had been launched on 9 January 2013 by a civic association Pastor bonus. The petition includes approximately 15 thousand signatures. Signers asked the Pope "to consider reasons for removing the archbishop emeritus and appeal to meet him in person, hear him out and after that consider either his further activities in the Church or rehabilitation."
On 11 July 2013, Pope Francis designated Ján Orosch, the apostolic administrator of the sede vacante, as the new Trnava diocese archbishop.

See more: Wikipedia and Catholic hierarchy.

  • May 2012: Halos on euros coins

Slovakia planned to put into circulation a two euro coin in May 2013 to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of the arrival in Great Moravia of Cyril (Constantine) and Methodius, who came to evangelize the Slavic peoples.

The design intended to adorn the national side of the coin has, however, been subject to challenges from several Member States who wish for the haloes above the heads of the two saints and the crosses appearing on the pallium of one of them to be removed, out of respect for religious diversity guaranteed by Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (press release by the Slovak National Bank (NBS) of 21 November 2012). EC Regulation no. 975/98 (as amended) provides in effect that “the issuing Member State submits to the Council, the Commission and other Member States whose currency is the euro, plans for the designs of coins intended for circulation” and that “any Member State whose currency is the euro may, in a reasoned opinion addressed to the Council and the Commission, lodge an objection to the design plans proposed by the issuing Member State, if the design is likely to cause adverse reactions among its citizens” (Article 1(i)).

The Slovak National Bank initially decided to accept the modifications requested and designed a new coin, albeit keeping the double cross held by the saints, which, by the way, is also reproduced on the country’s coat of arms. Following a meeting of its Board of Directors on 23 November 2012, it finally declared its wish to return to the initial design plan, after a change in the Commission’s position on this issue (NBS press release of 23 November 2012).

  • April 2012: Government proposes the abolition of two bank holidays, one of them a Catholic one

Based on government’s declaration from 24 April 2012 it could have been assumed that two bank holidays were to be abolished, one of them being a Catholic one. The request to decrease the number of days off was raised by the employers. Government proposed to abolish two bank holidays – Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on 15 September and the Constitution Day on 1 September. Catholic organizations initiated a petition to keep the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which was signed by approximately 130 thousand people. The Opposition also requested to keep this bank holiday. After submitting the signature sheets to the Governmental Office at the beginning of 2013, no further discussions were held to the issue and the number of bank holidays in Slovakia remained the same.

D 28 December 2012    AMiroslav Tížik

2011

May 2011: The Ministry of Culture refused the registration of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia
The Ministry of Culture, as the registering body by Law on the freedom of religious (...)

  • May 2011: The Ministry of Culture refused the registration of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia

The Ministry of Culture, as the registering body by Law on the freedom of religious faith and the position of churches and religious societies as subsequently amended, refused the registration of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia – its decision came into force in May 2011.
Extensive and long-term expert argumentation and accumulated evidence unequivocally proved that the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia did not meet the registration requirements provided by law. The reason for this disapproving decision was the fact that the founding and activities of the Church Christian Fellowship of Slovakia were contrary to the law on the freedom of religious faith and the position of churches and religious societies, as well as other regulations. At the same time, these activities are in conflict with the principles of humanity and tolerance, the protection of citizens´ health, and they endanger the civil rights, too.

D 3 December 2011    AMichaela Moravcikova

2009

December 2009: declaration on displaying religious symbols
On December 10, 2009, the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic adopted the Declaration on Displaying Religious Symbols in Schools (...)

  • December 2009: declaration on displaying religious symbols

On December 10, 2009, the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic adopted the Declaration on Displaying Religious Symbols in Schools and Public Institutions (Vyhlásenie Národnej rady Slovenskej republiky o umiestňovaní náboženských symbolov v školách a vo verejných inštitúciách v súlade s kultúrnou tradíciou krajiny). The Slovak Parliament declares that the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, which qualified the displaying of crosses in schools in Italy as a violation of parents´ rights to educate their children according to their own beliefs, contradicts the cultural heritage and Christian history of Europe. Displaying crosses in schools and public institutions represents a tradition owned by many European countries, Slovakia included. To respect this tradition cannot be understood either as a restraint of freedom of religion and belief or a violation of the parents´ rights to educate their children according to their own beliefs.
Displaying of religious symbols in schools and public institutions represents fully the right of every member state of the European Union, including Slovakia, and it is in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted in 1950.
103 MPs from 125 MPs present (the total number of Slovak MPs is 150) voted for this Declaration.

D 21 December 2009    AMichaela Moravcikova

2007

April 2007: A new registered religious society
On April 19, 2007 the Ministry of Culture registered the Bahá´í Society in the Slovak Republic. This religious society has fulfilled the registration (...)

  • April 2007: A new registered religious society

On April 19, 2007 the Ministry of Culture registered the Bahá´í Society in the Slovak Republic. This religious society has fulfilled the registration terms and has thus become the 18th registered subject. The Bahá´í faith arrived at the territory of the former Czechoslovakia as early as in 1920s. Gradually the Bahá´í community was created, however, its activity after WWII had to be interrupted, and it was not restored until 1989. At present it has its own advisory body for the Slovak Republic - The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the Slovak Republic.

  • March 2007: Amendment on the Law 308/1991

On March 29, 2007 the National Council of the Slovak Republic adopted the parliamentary draft amendment on the Law 308/1991 Col. on the Freedom of Belief and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies (see Main texts). The draft amendment passed by the Parliament modifies the wording of the Art 11 and Art 12. The registration is to require a consent of 20,000 members, not only persons "claiming a church" – i.e. sympathisers according to the existing broader interpretation of the formulation put in the Law. The given number of church members have to be major citizens of the Slovak Republic resident on its territory. According to the adopted amendment the preparatory committee must also submit statutory declarations of no less than 20,000 members (major citizens of the Slovak Republic resident on its territory), stating that they claim a church or a religious society, they endorse the proposal of its registration, they are church members, they know the basic articles of faith and the doctrine, and they are aware of rights and duties following from their membership in the church or religious society.
The Law 201/2007, modifying and amending the Law 308/1991 coll. on the Freedom of Belief and the Position of Churches and Religious Societies in the wording of the Law 394/200 coll., was published in the Collection of Laws on April 26, 2007, and after being signed by President, it comes into force on May 1, 2007.

D 5 June 2007    AMichaela Moravcikova

2006

December 2006: Petition for the prompt adoption of the Treaty on the Right to Objection of Conscience
On December 14, 2006, the organizers handed the petition for the prompt adoption of the (...)

  • December 2006: Petition for the prompt adoption of the Treaty on the Right to Objection of Conscience

On December 14, 2006, the organizers handed the petition for the prompt adoption of the Treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See on the Right to Objection of Conscience over to the Chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
The Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia dissociated itself from this activity. The declaration issued by the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia states that the submission of the petition for the adoption of Treaty on the Right to Objection of Conscience has been a private initiative of both its submitters. "The Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia joined this petition at the time of gathering signatures, however, at present it is not joining the act of submission to the National Council of SR", explained the spokesman of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia.
"Citizens have the right to sign petitions. We are, however, in the parliamentary opposition, and for that it is difficult for us to uphold such topics", said the Christian-Democrat deputy Vladimir Palko to the media. "It was due to this Treaty that I had resigned as a minister, hence this petition has my support", Palko added.
With regard to the fact that this petition contains over 100,000 signatures of Slovak citizens, it must be, according to the effective law, discussed by the plenary session of the National Council of SR.

For further information, see the Legal Status of Religions heading.

  • October 2006: 17th Church registered in Slovakia

On October 18, 2006, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, according to §10 sect 1 of the Law 308/1991 Zb. on the freedom of belief and the status of churches and religious communities as amended by later regulations, and to §1 of the Slovak National Council Law 192/1992 Zb. on church and religious community registration, in conformity with the administration proceedings law, registered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after having examined the registration proposal submitted by its Preparatory Committee.

The application for registration of the Church contained over 33 000 signatures of citizens of the Slovak Republic, thus having supported its registration. After the registration has been completed, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to become one of the 17 churches and religious communities officially registered in Slovakia (see Legal status - General presentation). The Church has already been registered almost in all the countries of the EU, the neighboring Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine included.

CJCLDS had been active in the former Czechoslovakia since 1929 and by 1990 it was the first Church to be officially recognized by the Czechoslovak authorities after the political changes of 1989. Following the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic in 1993, the Law on church and religious community registration obliged the Church by the duty of registration in Slovakia, though the 1990 registration of the Church has remained valid for the Czech Republic.

D 28 December 2006    AMichaela Moravcikova

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