Report from the EU that stalled the Slovak concordat (2005)
Vatican doctrine must not be allowed to override human rights, says report of European Union lawyers. Medical professionals should not have an unlimited right to impose their beliefs on others. They should not refuse to provide contraceptives or perform abortions, when this effectively denies a patient treatment which is allowed by law. Here is the report of the Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, Opinion N° 4-2005, a summary and excerpts from it.
The Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights (CFR-CDF) was created by the European Commission in response to a recommendation in the European Parliament's report on the state of fundamental rights in the European Union in 2000.
As a result of the objections of the EU legal experts, the Slovak “conscience concordat” has been put aside for now. However, their report remains important for three reasons:
♦ This concordat will be back. It will return in some form as soon as the political climate is more favourable in Slovakia (where in January 2007 the BBC bandwidth was given to Radiance Radio [Rádio Lumen]) and also more favourable in the EU (where in 2004 the conservative Slovak, Dr Anna Záborská, became the head of the EU Committee on Womens’ Rights.)
♦ This EU report shows how concordats interact with the different legal systems of the European states. As “international treaties” they override constitutions in some countries and national laws in all of them.
♦ The report also shows a test run for the Vatican's new strategy for combating human rights. The Church is trying to elevate “conscience” (defined in the concordat as strictly Catholic scruples!) above other human rights. Where the Church runs an increasing proportion of the social services, a “conscience concordat” can, in practice, force canon (Church) law on the whole society.