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February 2022

  • Call by religious societies to open services to the unvaccinated

On February 1st, representatives of Christian churches and Jewish religious communities have joined together to alert the public and political leaders on the importance of celebrating public worship. They claim that this observance is an essential part of the expression of faith for the believers. They call for worship to be included among the basic human needs to which all people should have access without distinction. This includes the unvaccinated. The letter, signed by the President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and General Bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession Ivan Eľko, the President of the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities Richard Duda and the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Slovakia (KBS) Stanislav Zvolen-ský, was handed over by Archbishop Zvolenenský during a meeting with the Prime Minister. "We ask you that in terms of the spiritual life connected with religion - which belongs to the fundamental rights and freedoms defined in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic - the worship services should also be considered essential", the ecumenical initiative wrote to the Prime Minister. The platform also wanted to ensure that the government does not classify church services during pandemic measures as mass events, but, on the contrary, that the decrees remember that churches are essential establishments, just like grocery stores or drugstores, which, if strict rules are followed, allow the unvaccinated to enter. At the same time, church representatives remind the Prime Minister that it has long been impossible for unvaccinated worshippers to attend church services in Slovakia only, not in other EU countries.

  • A new attempt to discuss the separation of the State and the Churches

On February 15, the Slovak Parliament held a discussion on the separation of churches from the State, convened by Miroslav Žiak and Roman Foltin, MPs from the liberal SaS party. In addition to representatives of political parties and churches, civil associations representing non-believers and secular-minded people - Ethos and Prometheus - were also invited. Representatives of registered churches and government parliamentary parties refused to take part in the discussion. In addition to the initiators, SaS MPs Janka Bittó Cigániková and Tomáš Lehotský and opposition MP Tomáš Taraba also took part in the discussion. MP Žiak presented his proposal for the separation of churches from the state: an assignation system. In addition to the two percent of taxes that a person can now bequeath to an organisation, another two percent should be added, which can be sent to the church. If it is not attributed to a church, the money will be transferred to a historic building repair fund that is split 50-50 between church and non-church.

  • Removal of restrictions on participation in worship by the unvaccinated

As of February 28, the criteria for attendance at worship services have been relaxed to allow for 500 people or 50 percent of the capacity of the premises. It is up to the parishes to choose whether they set the limit to 500 people or to 50 percent of the capacity space. Previously, 100 people max. could attend Mass, or more depending on capacity. Starting March 28, they are to lift the capacity restriction altogether. The unvaccinated have also been able to attend masses since February 28, as the government is removing covid passport checks.

D 6 April 2022    AMichal Puchovský AMiroslav Tížik

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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