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PEP: A five-year plan for theocracy?

This short overview of the Vatican plan for Slovakia is available in English for the first time. Prof. Rehák's article  skillfully penetrates the sacerdotal language of the bishops' five-year plan to convert Slovakia to point out what it means and how it could affect people's lives.

Is Slovakia on the road to fundamentalism?

"Smeruje Slovensko k fundamentalizmu?" Prometheus 4: 3-5, 2005.
Written, summarised and translated by Prof. em. Alexander Rehák

In 2001 The Bishops Conference of Slovakia posted online a remarkable document. Yet, for several reasons it has attracted little notice. For one thing, it is 36 pages long, is written in sacerdotal Slovakian, and bears the less-than-catchy title of “Pastorisation and Evangelisation Plan of the Catholic Church in Slovakia for 2001-2006”. ( Let’s just call it “PEP”.) It also flies under the radar because it appeared to be merely an internal directive for the Slovak Church. However, the document is based almost completely on Vatican directives which are quoted in profusion, which makes it unlikely to be an initiative of the Slovak bishops. Furthermore, the Introduction asserts that “Slovakia can play an important role in a secularised Europe” which echoes the theme repeated by the two popes ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain: that it is the special mission of Catholic Slovakia to help evangelise secular Europe.

Let’s take a critical look at some of the audacious proposals in this document. Here are a few of its stated goals:

♦ To have Church representatives attend parliamentary committee meetings and propose changes in the legislative drafts. (1.1.3d-f) This means the Catholic Church is to seek a direct intervention in the State’s legislative process….  

♦ To strive for a “permanent [faith] formation of the politicians”. (1.2.3c-d) One would have thought that it was the concern of the political parties to “form” their own politicians, not the task of the Catholic Church….  

♦ “To strive for subsidies from the State resources for the Church’s external activities in the [faith] formation of the society.” (1.1.3i)  Because “state and society impose onerous obligations on the Church: the spiritual and moral revival of the nation, charity, education, media activities, etc.” (“Etc.” includes health services, army and prisons.) (1.3.2)  the state is supposed to grant numerous subsidies. (1.3.3) This is an amazing claim: payment is here being demanded for proselytising. A secular state itself provides services to its citizens and leaves it up to them to decide how – and even if – they wish to be “spiritually and morally revived”. The Church should do its proselytising without using the institutions of the state and should fund this itself – for those who want it.  

♦ “To provide for theological study for workers in science and [the humanities] in the form of a postgraduate study of theology.” (1.4.3c) This absurd ideological requirement sounds like the earlier demand that they study Marxism. The aim is to blur the clear-cut difference between science and theology.  

♦ “The Church is aware that true education aims at the complete [faith] formation of the human being […]" (1.5.2) Church policy understands as “true education” only what is consistent with Catholicism. Their attempts to impose this on the country can be best seen in the Basic Treaty with the Holy See.   

♦ To increase the number of Catholic schools “by converting the state schools” and to make this legally binding. (1.5.3d)  “To legislate equal financing of state schools and non-state schools from the public purse.”  (1.5.3e) Public education is to be taken over by the Church – at public expense. 

♦ The Church is to saturate even the state media and intends to run its own media at public expense:

  • “To secure as soon as possible contact between the BCPA [Bishops Conference Press Agency] and all influential secular media (especially through contact persons with a positive relation to Church) as well as with the Church-run media.” (1.6.3b)  People are to be located in non-Catholic media who will help spread the Church message from within.
  • “To find ways for official influence of the Bishops Conference in nominating the directors of these institutions” (1.6.3f) People are even to be directly placed in State media to help spread the Church message from within. 
  • “To appoint a delegate who is a representative of the Church in the Advisory boards for broadcasting, for the TV and Sro [Slovak Radio].”  This sounds like another authoritarian system  in Slovakia where “communist commissars” were placed at the key points in the State administration to control the public. 
  • “To insert in the Supplementary Treaties between the Holy See and the Slovak Republic the right to own media (and) at the same time the duty of the State to support them and to enable them to have coverage of the whole country” (1.6.3s) Future concordats are to lock in state subsidies to Catholic media in perpetuity.  
  • “To take pains to have a more effective presence of the movements and the Christian institutions in the life of the society.” (2.5.3b) This means attempting to use Catholic groups and institutions to influence the whole society.
  • Effective influence “requires inserting the God’s word into daily life. […] It is necessary to involve […] all forms of mass media, such as the internet, television, radio or the press.” (3.2.3a&d) This plan is being implemented. Radio Lumen has been given the bandwidth of the BBC and in Slovakia religious publications now come second among all the categories.

♦ When faced with the ill, the poor and others in need of help, “Christian communities cannot be expected to become social agencies (NMI52)”. (3.5.1C) Here the bishops quote with approval a 2000 papal encyclical (Novo millenio ineunte, 52)  in order to reinforce their demand to be paid by the state for any “good works” they undertake. They do not have to account to the state for the funds handed over.

♦ “The establishment of at least one gynaecological-obstetrical department in a teaching hospital or a department with a Catholic orientation.” (3.5.3e) At these departments patients would not even learn of the existence of any legal medical options disapproved of by the Church, let alone be offered them. Furthermore, since teaching hospital departments are part of the Medical Faculty of a university, would this set a precedent for allowing Catholic departments in other university faculties? 

♦ “Despite the apparent declining numbers of abortions, this is due to the increasing use of contraceptives, which have at the same time an abortive action.” (4.1.1D) Although in Slovakia, and worldwide, increased use of contraception means reduces abortions, the bishops are willing to misrepresent medical facts (as they did about imaginary holes in condoms) in order to push Church doctrines.

♦ Children are to be formed by “all available means”, including songs, pictures, ceremonies, nature and sports. (4.2.3d) The State TV and radio, as well as the Catholic media, are to broadcast religious programmes for children. (4.2.3p)  Children’s activities are to include “children’s Passion plays [on the suffering and crucifixion of Christ]” (4.2.3k).

♦ “Care of seniors” (4.5.2) includes encouraging them to work for the Chuch in every way possible, from “engagement for the culture of life” (i.e., promoting Church doctrines on the beginning and end of life) to “readiness to submit to [God’s] testing, to bring spiritual sacrifices for the Church”. The aged are important as a souce of bequests, and when reason and judgment begin to fail they can be easily influenced. The Bishops plan to make “records about all elderly and ailing in the parish, regardless of their religious conviction”. (4.5.3f) This sounds like database marketing.

Only a few of the main points have been mentioned here. This document is extremely comprehensive, with recommendations for tightening Church control in almost every area of life.


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