eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà

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 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 décembre 2017    AMiroslav Tížik

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