4/2023 English Summary – Slovakia

Karol Moravčík
Slovak Catholicism – Post-Revolutionary Development, Present, and Perspective

The author, a Slovak Catholic priest engaged in parish ministry, presents the situation of the Slovak Catholic Church over the past three decades. He divides it into three thematic periods: 1) stabilization and renewal of the church’s fundamental functions and needs in the 1990s; 2) normalisation, during which the leadership of the Slovak Church carry through its vision of Catholic orthodoxy; 3) stagnation, which began around 2012 with the shock caused by the removal of Róbert Bezák from office. The author evaluates individual phenomena, events, and personalities based on verifi­able facts and personal experience gained as an active member of the church influenced by the free atmosphere of 1968 and the post-Council “spring”. In the text, he particularly emphasises those stimuli and influences that, in his opinion, either support or hinder the realisation of a church mod­el that corresponds to the Second Vatican Council and the contemporary vision of Pope Francis.

Zdeněk R. Nešpor
The Church and The State Three Decades After the Velvet Revolution

In his text, a Czech sociologist and religionist outlines the most significant differences in the state-church relations in Slovakia compared to contemporary Czech Republic. He focuses on three key points: property settlement and financing of religious activities, links between the state and established churches, and the registration of new religious entities. According to him, these aspects clearly illustrate the divergence in the religious landscape of both countries and the discourses in which religion is interpreted. While Czech society has embraced a path of liberalisation, particu­larization, and the marginalisation of traditional church religiosity, reflected in the approach of ­state authorities towards churches and religious organisations, Slovak society remains predominantly traditionally Christian. A significant part of its national identity is derived from what is perceived and supervised by dominant churches as traditionally Christian. The author compares these two models, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages.

What are the Specifics of Contemporary Slovak Christianity?

The entire issue of Salve addresses the question of what constitutes the uniqueness of the Slovak religious experience, exploring its characteristics and roots. The close connection of Slovak Catholicism, national identity, and folk devotion forms a unique entity, to which many people sub­scribe in their spiritual identification, while others, on the contrary, define themselves against it. The survey approached prominent personalities in Slovak society, including František Mikloško, Ivan Šimko, Ivan Eľko, Štefan Hríb, Miroslav Kocúr, Martin Kováč, Iva Mrvová, Michal Žák SDB, and Da­mián Mačura OP, with the question of what the living Slovak Christian tradition looks like, how they perceive and experience it, what aspects can be built upon from the past, and what challenges the future present. At first glance, the diverse ecumenical collage of answers captures the multi-layered nature of the Slovak Christian landscape, revealing both problematic and hopeful aspects.

It is Necessary to Engage in Dialogue, at all Costs
An Interview with Michal Oláh, a Social Worker and Journalist

The interview introduces the field of social work in Slovakia, noting Slovak specifics in comparison to the Czech Republic. It describes the relationship with minorities, addressing the complex issue of the marginalisation of Roma people. It outlines what role the church should play in this area, what Christian principles should be promoted. The interview also touches upon the issue of nationalism and its manifestations in Slovak society, the problem of poverty, and reflects on the challenges of social work, where individuals are often confronted with failure, recidivism, and death.

Pope Francis
To be Creators of Peace and Harmony
Speech during the visit to Slovakia in St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava on 13 September 2021

During his visit to Slovakia in 2021, Pope Francis delivered a speech in the Cathedral in Bratislava to bishops, priests, religious and all the believers. In it, he outlined what kind of Christian community we need today. Church should not be a fortress, power structure or a castle that looks down on the world from a distance and stands alone for itself. It should be the leaven that shapes the kingdom of love and peace from the dough of our world. According to the Pope, three realities play an important role in fulfilling this mission: freedom, creativity and dialogue. The Pope calls the Slovak Church to persevere in the journey of the freedom of the Gospel, the creativity of faith and dialogue arising from mercy of God who has made us brothers and sisters and calls us to be creators of peace and harmony.

Karol Lovaš OPraem
Freedom, Creativity, Dialogue – the Pope’s Inspiration for the Slovak Church

A Slovak priest and writer comments on the visit of Pope Francis in Slovakia in 2021 and recalls the Pope’s message to the Slovak Church, as heard particularly in his speech in St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava. The author examines three aspects that the Pope identified as essential elements in the life and mission of the Church: freedom, creativity and dialogue. According to the author these are indispensable life impulses that should become an integral part of the Church and upon which its future also depends.

Miloslav Szabó
Clerico-fascists, the Heritage of Hlinka’s Slovak People’s Party and Contemporary Culture Wars
An Interview with Historian Miloslav Szabó

This extensive interview, conducted by Norbert Schmidt, traces the issue of priests who, to a greater or lesser extent, collaborated with the Slovak State (1939–1945) and its authoritarian regime, which was established on the territory of Slovakia as a satellite of the Nazi Third Reich. A specific feature of the Slovak situation was the declared religious character of the authoritarian regime of that time. The interview begins with Miloslav Szabo’s book Clerico-Fascists, Slovak Priests and the Temptation of Radical Politics (1935–1945), outlines the basic concepts, introduces several Catholic priests (Karol Körper Viliam Ries, Anton Šalát) to shed light on the different reasons and varying degrees of their collaboration with the regime of wartime Slovak state and the ideology of Slovak People’s Party. He deals particularly with the priest Ladislav Hanus, who in 1941, when it seemed that Hitler would conquer the whole of Europe, even made an intellectual utopian attempt at a kind of ideological reconciliation between Nazism and Catholicism, including the proposal to purify Nazism of racism and paganism and to accede to the position of (God’s) natural law. The interview concludes with the ideological struggles over the history of wartime Slovak state after 1989 and outlines the continuities to today’s controversies and culture wars. The interview vividly shows that this period and dealing with it is as important for understanding modern Slovakia and its many contempo­rary problems and disputes as the confrontation with Nazism and the Holocaust is for the identity of contemporary Germany. He notes, however, that this debate is far from reaching a professional, ecclesiastical or society-wide consensus in Slovakia.

Agáta Šústová Drelová
The Search for Catholics in the Recent History of the Catholic Church in Slovakia

In the recent history of the Catholic Church, religion is conventionally perceived as stably organised around commonly recognised religious traditions and institutions. Significant attention is paid to persecution by state control and repressive authorities. The central argument of this critical reflec­tion on the recent history of the hidden church is that insufficient attention has been paid to the significance of religious faith and its diverse experiences thereby losing the opportunity to explore the social and cultural, or even political impacts of particular theologies, religious beliefs, and actions.

Marián Sekerák
The spectre of liberalism is haunting Europe: Political interventions of the Slovak Catholic hierarchy and its struggle for “traditional values”

Slovakia is traditionally considered a relatively highly religious country with a strong influence of the Catholic Church. Although the actual number of believers sharply declines with each census (the last one was held in 2021), interventions, especially by the Catholic hierarchy, in public space and politics are relatively frequent and noteworthy. This article presents the most important of these interventions in the last approximately 20 years. This occurs within the traditional Catholic agenda: the anti-choice (“pro-life”) movement, the negative attitude towards the rights of LGBTIQ minority, and the issues of education. Consequently, it will be clarified that the official Catholic narrative, especially in recent years, is an ideological mixture of social conservatism, cultural anti-modernism, and the fear of progressivism and liberalism. Based on the analysis of the interpretative repertoires of various speech acts (speeches, homilies, interviews and various written texts), the very nature of bishops’ interventions will be explained.

Rút Matisovská OP
“Rather Death than Sin”
The Case of Beatification in Slovakia: Anna Kolesárová

The study deals with the beatification of the first laywoman from Slovakia, Anna Kolesárová (1928–1944). Based on the so-called Positio – an official document prepared as part of the canonization process, gathering all evidence related to the case of Anna Kolesárová – and publicly presented official statements of Church representatives on this subject, the study (1) describes the extent to which essential aspects of the presented story of the Slovak martyr of purity are theologically consistent and compatible with current knowledge in the field of sexual violence; (2) captures the ideas – not only about sexuality – to which the Slovak church adheres through this concept; and (3) outlines the relationship of church representatives to society, reflected in how they deal with the story.

Daniela Čarná
Maps and Churches by Otis Laubert

The visual accompaniment to this issue consists of excerpts from the work of the Slovak visual ­artist Otis Laubert (* 1946), who is currently working in Bratislava. Slovak art historian, curator, and gallery educator Daniela Čarná introduces the life and work of this significant Slovak artist in her text. She provides insights into his thinking, poetics, and humour while presenting his typical themes, primarily focused on cartography and sacred art.

Overview of Selected Slovak Platforms Focused on Spiritual Life and Faith Reflection

The overview presents characteristics and contacts of important Slovak publishers, professional journals, Christian magazines and online platforms, radio and television. It was prepared by Jaroslav Šubrt and Rút Matisovská OP.