Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

Reader feedback: Letter to the editor

"Conscience concordat" discriminatory

The experts referred to in the article "Experts: Vatican Treaty a threat" (News Briefs, January 9-15, 2006), including the Slovak representative Martin Butzinger and his colleagues, discuss two areas where the "conscience concordat" clashes with human rights.

First, they assert that the sometimes competing claims of different human rights have to be balanced against each other. Thus, the right of a Catholic doctor not to have to perform an abortion must be balanced against the right of a woman to undergo a legally permitted procedure.

However, an article in a Catholic newspaper asserted that a doctor should not have any obligation to refer a woman to a colleague who would be willing to treat her as that is "an act which itself conflicts [with] conscientious objection".

Not much room for compromise there. The conscience of the doctor (or the pharmacist) is treated by the Church as absolute. Apparently no other rights matter.

Second, the conscience concordat conflicts with the human right not to be discriminated against. "Conscience" is defined by the concordat as only being scruples which accord with "the teaching of faith and morals of the Catholic Church".

Yet the conscience of even a good Catholic may at times conflict with some of the teachings of his church.

This concordat would mean that those who agreed with the official doctrine of the Church could act without any legal liability for damage they caused to the public, a privilege not granted to others. Furthermore, the experts argue, this might constitute discrimination against women, since only their healthcare is facing restrictions.

Muriel Fraser,
London, UK

Top stories

In praise of concrete

It was once notorious for its drab tower blocks and urban crime, but Petržalka now epitomises modern Slovakia.

Petržalka is the epitome of communist-era architecture.

Slow down, fashion

Most people are unaware that buying too many clothes too harms the environment.

In shallow waters, experts are expendable

Mihál says that it is Sulík, the man whom his political opponents mocked for having a calculator for a brain, who “is pulling the party out of liberal waters and towards somewhere completely different”.

Richard Sulík is a man of slang.

Blog: Exploring 20th century military sites in Bratislava

It seems to be the fate of military sites and objects in Bratislava that none of them were ever used for the purposes they were built for - cavernas from WWI, bunkers from WWII, nuclear shelters or the anti-aircraft…

One nuclear shelter with a capacity for several hundred people now serves as a music club with suitable name Subclub (formerly U-club).