Family from Trnava deserves a deep apology

Church and State silently tolerate the separation of Roma children from the majority in schools and churches.

(Source: AP/TASR)

Jarmila Lajčáková is an analyst with the Centre for the Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK)

In Trnava's Roman-Catholic basilica, organisers of the first communion celebration refused an 11-year-old Roma girl a seat next to the other children. She was supposed to sit separately because the parents of non-Roma children complained.

When the media reported on the case, provoking a public outcry, and when Trnava Regional Governor Jozef Viskupič demanded amends, the parish gave in to the pressure.

Unfortunately, this is no isolated case. The largest religious organisations have quit uniting communities and accepted ethnic divisions in Slovakia. Separate first communion celebrations for Roma and non-Roma kids, on different days or in different buildings, are a rule rather than an exception in parts of Slovakia where larger numbers of Roma live.

Another trend sees separate chapels and churches directly in settlements, instead of common religious services. A smaller eastern-Slovak village might thus have a priest offering spiritual services exclusively to non-Roma, and a separate pastoral centre for Roma, within the same denomination.

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