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Objection of conscience

Almost 70 years after the foundation of the wartime Slovak state, which played a significant role in the Holocaust, one would expect that a society based on liberal-democratic values would have come to terms with this past. Not so.

Almost 70 years after the foundation of the wartime Slovak state, which played a significant role in the Holocaust, one would expect that a society based on liberal-democratic values would have come to terms with this past. Not so.

The 60th anniversary of the execution of Jozef Tiso, the president of the wartime state, was celebrated last week not only by an ever-aging group of retired people and an ever-present group of skinheads, but also officially by the Catholic Church. The occasion was a mass for the dead that was devoted to Tiso in Bratislava's Blumenthal Church.

Who would have thought that the Catholic Church in Slovakia would again stick its head in the sand as it did in the case of Archbishop Sokol, and say that the mass was the work of an individual rather than the Church? Jozef Kováčik, the spokesman of the Slovak Conference of Bishops, said that a mass for the dead can be said for anyone, "especially if he was a priest". No more diffidence or diplomatic juggling with words. The moral relativism of an institution that claims to protect morals was fully exposed.

Like former Slovak-Hungarian leader Béla Bugár, I too "live in such a country" where the Catholic Church is concerned with curing "illnesses" like homosexuality, and where church weddings between such "warped" people would be a violation of the holiest Christian morals. This church defence, however, does not extend to someone who was responsible for the torture and death of his own citizens, for whose transport to the Third Reich this country even paid.

The Catholic Church has drawn a line between Jozef Tiso the priest and Jozef Tiso the president. What will follow are empty phrases about the need to study history, which in the language of the Catholic Church means that the Church has declared an objection of conscience when it comes to Tiso.


Sme, April 23

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