Basic Concordat (2000)
This irrevocable agreement was ratified sixteen working days after it was tabled. Two of the sections of the original draft, the ones on the financing of the Church and conscientious objection, provoked so much opposition that they were to be turned into later separate treaties. Thus the Basic Treaty provides the framework for four more concordats to follow. It was kept general to get it ratified by the wide-spectrum ruling coalition at the time. The Vatican waited a couple of years until two of the four parties in the new cabinet had the word “Christian” in their names before spelling out the details in later concordats.
The preamble invokes the brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius and Article 9.e below obliges the Slovaks to observe their feast day as a national holiday. It was these monks, who were brothers, who in the 9th century brought Christianity to the Slavs. They also devised an alphabet whose modified version, the Cyrillic, is named after St. Cyril and is still used for many Slavic languages.
In 1980 John Paul II proclaimed these missionaries the patron saints of Europe.
Europe already had a patron, Saint Benedict, given the post by Paul VI in 1964. [...] The trouble with Benedict and his monks was that he was too exclusively associated with the evangelisation of Western Europe. Cyril and Methodius, two ninth-century Greek monks from Salonika, represented "the wider Europe" before the divisions of East and West had set in.*
between the Holy See and the Republic of Slovakia
Signed on 24 November 2000 [and ratified 18 December 2000]
With reference to the Holy See and the Republic of Slovakia, to the Holy See and to the documents of the Vatican Council II and to Canon Law and the Republic of Slovakia in accordance with the Constitution, with reference to internationally recognised principles on religious liberty, and to the authoritative mission of the Catholic Church in the history of Slovakia, and also to its actual role in the social, moral and cultural arenas, with regard to the spiritual succession of Cyril and Methodius, and recognising the contribution of the citizens of the Republic of Slovakia to the Catholic Church, which manifests the will to contribute to the spiritual and material welfare of mankind and to the common good, have agreed the following articles:
1. The Holy See and the Republic of Slovakia (henceforth referred to as ‘the Above Parties’) consider themselves to be reciprocally independent and autonomous subjects of international law and will be inspired by these principles in their mutual relations.
2. The Above Parties recognise their respective juridical personalities and also that of all juridical and physical persons who enjoy legal rights within the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia and in accordance with Canon Law.
1. The Republic of Slovakia recognizes the right of the Catholic Church of the Republic of Slovakia (henceforth referred to as ‘The Catholic Church’) and of its members to free and independent activity, which includes above all the public profession, announcement, and practice of the Catholic faith, the freedom to exercise the mission of the Catholic Church, the exercise of its powers as defined by Canon Law, the management of its property rights relative to its financial and material means, and the direction of its own internal affairs.
2. The Holy See guarantees that the Catholic Church will utilize all appropriate means for the moral formation of the citizens of the Republic of Slovakia, for the common good, in accordance with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, concomitant with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
1. The Catholic Church has the exclusive right to decide upon and modify its legal system, to set up, modify and abolish its own ecclesiastical structures, particularly its provinces, archdioceses, dioceses, deaneries, exarchates and apostolic administrative areas.
2. The Holy See will inform in confidence the Republic of Slovakia concerning the establishment or the abolition of an ecclesiastical province, of an archdiocese, of a diocese, of a deanery, of an exarchate or of an apostolic administrative area, prior to general publication.
3. The Holy See will ensure that the boundaries of dioceses and of apostolic administrative areas of the Slovak Roman Catholic Church, and also of deaneries and of exarchates of the Greek Catholic Church, will conform to the state boundaries of the Republic of Slovakia.
4. The Catholic Church has the right to designate juridical persons. The Republic of Slovakia guarantees the protection of their property and their freedom to act. The activities of these juridical persons must be in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
The Catholic Church has the right to maintain contacts with the Holy See and with the universal Church, especially with Episcopal Conferences of other countries, and with other Churches and with other religious creeds, as well as with other juridical and physical persons in the Republic of Slovakia and abroad.
1. The Catholic Church has the right to develop its apostolic mission, particularly in the exercising of its liturgical rites and religious acts, and to proclaim and teach Catholic doctrine.
2. The Republic of Slovakia guarantees the inviolability of sacred places which, in accordance with Canon Law, are designated for the performance of religious functions. By inviolability of sacred places, the Above Parties mean the protection of these sacred places, which consists of preventing them from being used for purposes other than those which conform to Canon Law, and to prevent them from any violation of their true dignity.
3. In exceptional circumstances, and with the consent of the Catholic Church, a sacred place can be used exceptionally for other purposes which do not conflict with the sanctity of those same places.
4. Any exception to the rule of the inviolability of a sacred place is permitted, if it is thought necessary in view of an immediate danger to life, to safety, or to the property, even if it has not been possible to obtain the prior consent of the Catholic Church. In such cases the Republic of Slovakia shall take all necessary and appropriate measures always to safeguard their sanctity.
1. The Holy See has the exclusive right to provide for its ecclesiastical offices according to Canon Law, and in particular to make decisions independently and exclusively in the selection of candidates for the Episcopal ministry, including the appointment, the transfer, the renunciation, and the removal of Bishops.
2. The Holy See will inform the Slovak government in confidence and prior to general publication, the name and surname of the person who will be nominated as Bishop, and also of the transfer, renunciation and removal of a Bishop. The confidentiality of the communication includes the duty on the part of the Republic of Slovakia not to express opinions about the person concerned and also not to take a stance on the decision of the Holy See.
3. The Catholic Church has the exclusive right to decide on the appointment, transfer, renunciation and removal of a person with reference to other ecclesiastical offices or ministers relevant to its apostolic mission.
The Republic of Slovakia recognises the right of all to obey their conscience according to the doctrinal principles and morals of the Catholic Church. The extent and conditions of the application of this right will be defined by special Accord between the Above Parties.
1. Confidentiality of the confessional is inviolable. The inviolability of the secret confessional comprises the right to refuse to make a deposition before the organs of the state of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. The Republic of Slovakia also guarantees the inviolability of secret information, made orally or in writing under the condition of confidentiality to a person entrusted with pastoral care.
The Republic of Slovakia will respect as days of rest every Sunday and the following days:
a) 1st January, the feast-day of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, of the Circumcision of Our Lord, and of St Basil the Great,
b) 6th January, the Epiphany of Our Lord,
c) Good Friday
d) Easter Monday
e) 5th July, the feast-day of Saints Cyril and Methodius,
f) 15th September, the feast-days of the Adoration of the Madonna, the Patron Saint of Slovakia,
g) 1st November, All-Saints’ Day,
h) 24th December, Christmas Eve,
i) 25th December, the feast-day of the Birth of Our Lord,
j) 6th December, the feast-day of St Stephan The First Martyr and of the Sacred Heart of the Mother of God.
1. Marriage contracted according to Canon Law, which also fulfils the conditions agreed by the law of the Republic of Slovakia for the contracting of marriage, has also identical validity and identical juridical consequences as marriage contracted according to civil procedure within the territory of the Republic of Slovakia. The state registration of marriages celebrated according to Canon Law and its entry in the marriage register is defined within the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. The decisions of the Catholic Church with regard to the annulment of marriage and the dissolution of the matrimonial bond are communicated by request by one of the parties concerned of the Republic of Slovakia. The Republic of Slovakia will proceed with the case according to its legal system.
The Above Parties will collaborate in the defence and the promotion of marriage and also of the family which results from that marriage.
1. The care and upbringing of children is the right and duty of parents. If, for serious reasons, the parents are unable to exercise this right, this right passes to other people or to other institutions to effectuate institutional or protective rearing, based on a decision of a competent court of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. The parents and other persons and institutions mentioned in paragraph 1 above, have the right to bring up their children according to the doctrinal principles and morals of the Catholic Church.
1. The Catholic Church has the right to establish, manage and use for upbringing and educational purposes elementary schools, secondary schools, universities and other educational institutions, according to conditions set out in the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. Schools and educational institutions mentioned in paragraph 1 above have equal standing with state schools and educational institutions and form an inseparable and equivalent part of the system of formative education of the Republic of Slovakia. The financial contribution for the said schools and educational institutions from the state budget of the Republic of Slovakia will be established under a special agreement, according to Article 20 of the present Concordat.
3. Parents and other persons mentioned in Article 12 paragraph 1 have the right freely to choose a school and educational institution.
4. The Republic of Slovakia recognises the validity of certificates of completed studies awarded in the schools and educational institutions mentioned in paragraph 1, within the terms of validated criteria of documents pertaining to studies in state schools and educational institutions of equivalent category and grade, according to the conditions laid down by the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia for the validation of certificates of completed studies in all schools and educational institutions which form a part of the system for training and educating citizens of the Republic of Slovakia. The Republic of Slovakia recognises the equivalence of these certificates. The provisions set out in this regulation also apply to certificates and titles and to academic and scientific grades.
5. The Republic of Slovakia undertakes to create conditions for the Catholic upbringing of pupils in schools and educational institutions in accordance with the religious convictions of their parents. This obligation involves the duty of fulfilling parental requests to avail themselves of a religious Catholic education in all grades of elementary schools, and in all categories and in all types of educational institutions, and to facilitate Catholic educational organizations and youth movements.
6. The Catholic Church has the right to teach religious belief in all schools and educational institutions which form a part of the system to educate and train citizens of the Republic of Slovakia in accordance with the conditions laid down in paragraph 9. The teacher of religious studies is to enjoy with regard to legal work relations a status equal to that of teachers of other subjects, if the same fulfils the conditions for school teachers of the respective category and grade set down in the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia. Authorization from the Catholic Church is mandatory for the development of pedagogical activity of the teacher of religion in all schools.
7. Members of the Catholic faith have the right to assert their own convictions in the formative process of bringing up their family in conformance with the principles of Christian ethics. This does not affect the rights of these persons as laid down in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia within the limits set down for the upbringing and training of children.
8. The Holy See, in the process of upbringing and training, respects the principles of religious tolerance, of ecumenicalism and the collaboration also of persons of diverse religious convictions and also the sentiments of non-believers.
9. The Above Parties will define in special international agreements other regulations relating to schools and educational institutions set out in paragraph 1, and to the teaching of the Catholic faith and to the Catholic upbringing of pupils, to Catholic universities, to theological faculties, to seminaries and to formative religious institutions.
1. The Catholic Church has the right to exercise pastoral care for members of the Armed Forces and Police Corps.
2. Priests, deacons, people who have taken holy orders, seminarians and novitiates have the right to carry out their obligatory military service in a spiritual capacity within the Armed Forces.
3. Members of the Armed Forces and members of the Police Corps have the right to participate in the Sacred/Holy Mass on Sundays and on preceding feast-days if this does not conflict with the fulfilling of duties without grave consequences of the armed service. They may participate in other religious rites during working hours with the consent of an officer of the services.
4. The Above Parties will set down particulars relative to pastoral welfare for the Armed Forces and the Police Corps, for obligatory military service and for alternative civil service for priests, deacons, people under religious orders, seminarians and novitiates in the appropriate international Accord.
The Catholic Church has the right to develop pastoral care for the faithful who are detained in penitentiaries and in secure institutions and in institutions for rehabilitation.
1. The Catholic Church has the right to develop activity of a pastoral and spiritual nature, and religious training and upbringing in all formative state institutions, educational and medical institutions, state institutions providing social services, including those used for obligatory institutional education, and for the care and social reinstatement of drug dependent persons, in accordance with conditions agreed between the Catholic Church and the respective institution. The Republic of Slovakia will ensure that conditions are fit for the exercising of this right. Persons who are under the care of these institutions have the right to participate in the Mass on Sundays and on days of obligation and are granted the liberty to fulfill all religious acts.
2. The Above Parties will collaborate in realizing communal projects in areas of medical care, of training and upbringing, and in those offering assistance to the elderly and to the sick. These projects will apply to schools, educational and medical institutions, institutions offering social services, therapy and the rehabilitation of drug dependants. The Holy See guarantees that the Catholic Church will promote these projects particularly with the staff of the institutions; the Republic of Slovakia will make provisions in proportional measure, but particularly materially and financially.
1. The Catholic Church has the right to develop activity of a formative, training, experimental-scientific, missionary, charitable, medical and social nature. This right also includes the setting up, ownership and the management of institutions of this kind in accordance with the conditions laid down by the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. As far as reimbursements for medical services are concerned, provided by the agency of obligatory insurance, the institutions referred to in paragraph 1 have the same rights and duties as state institutions of the same type.
3. The Holy See guarantees that the Catholic Church will participate in the financial insurance of these institutions. The financial contribution for these religious institutions from the state budget of the Republic of Slovakia will be determined in a special Agreement in accordance with Article 20 of the present Concordat.
1. The Above Parties recognise that the mass media are an important means for the protection of freedom of thought and conscience, as well as being the same for religious conviction and faith.
2. The Above Parties have the right to the freedom of expression, including the freedom to divulge their own opinions and to transmit that information via the spoken word, in writing, in the press, in images and by other means.
3. The Catholic Church has the right to possess the means for editorial activity, and to rights to set up the means to transmit information by radio and television, and to establish other means to distribute social information, and to use these means and establish them in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
4. The Catholic Church has the right to participate in proportional measure in public media transmissions of information.
The Catholic Church may acquire rights to personal property and real estate, including copyrights, and it has the right to alienate them. These rights may only be exercised in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia. Article 20
1. The Above Parties will set out a special Accord concerning financial support for the Catholic Church.
2. The Catholic Church has the right to organize offertories in churches. The revenue accumulated from resources administered in this way is not subject to taxation or to the requirement of public accountability.
1. The Above Parties will contribute to the expenses for the maintenance and renovation of real estate situated within the territory of the Republic of Slovakia to which the Catholic Church has the right of ownership and which, by the definition of the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia, are considered to be cultural monuments. The amount of financial insurance for their maintenance and renovation within the means of the state budget of the Republic of Slovakia will be determined in a special Accord in accordance with Article 20 of the present Concordat.
2. The Catholic Church has the right to build and reconstruct churches and religious buildings in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
The Above Parties confirm diplomatic representation of the Holy See to the Republic of Slovakia at the level of Apostolic Nuncio, and also diplomatic representation of the Republic of Slovakia to the Holy See at the level of Ambassador.
The Above Parties will resolve through diplomatic channels any questions which might arise from the interpretation and implementation of this present Concordat.
1. This present Concordat is subject to ratification by the Holy See in accordance with procedural norms, and to ratification on the part of the Republic of Slovakia in accordance with the legal system of the Republic of Slovakia.
2. The Concordat will come into force on the day of the exchange of the instruments of ratification.
The present Concordat may be modified and fundamentally changed with the reciprocal consent of the Above Parties. Modifications and additions must be communicated in writing.
Accordo base tra la Santa Sede e la Repubblica Slovacca.
Firmato il 24 novembre 2000
Základná Zmluva medzi Svätou stolicou a Slovenskou republikou
* Peter Hebblethwaite, "From Ostpolitik to Europapolitik", Journal a Plusieurs Voix, 1/1991, p. 65. http://www.european-journal.org/archives/issues/old/n11/n11p59-73.pdf