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


  • 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, 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 novembre 2018    AMiroslav Tížik

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