O nás    Čo robíme
Klerikalizmus
 Aktuality Názory    Odkazy ENGLISH 

ACTIVITIES  

Seminar  CHURCH AND POLITICS ( PROMETHEUS Society. On November 7,1998 )

THESES OF  MAIN REPORTS.
HOME
 

1.The essence and  aims of contemporary clericalism ( by J. Čelko )

2.Preparing  the basic treaty (= BT) of Slovak republic and Vartican makes foundations   for re- catholicising Slovak republic. ( by P. Prusák )

3.The issue of secularisation, humanism and religion in the contemporary world. (by B. Kvasnička )

Communiqué


1.The essence  and aims of contemporary clericalism ( by J. Čelko ) 

(abstracts)

The attempts to dominate over the State  policy - defended by theologians- have deep historical roots . Melting  altar of religion and throne of secular power after the rise of Christianity  was completed by emperor Constantine the Great, which meant a purposeful   coalescence of the secular and church power aiming at a better dominance  over the strata of population. Similarly in the time of feudalism the  church was entirely engaged in support of governing powers, reciprocated  by non-precedent rights. ( among others the right of pope to decide about  the emperors ). After the starting restrained relations of church towards  the upcoming capitalism also in these relations a complete mutual support  was established .  The interventions of church into the secular State policy  had to be substantiated also by a doctrine, which has been construed during  centuries. This doctrine associating everything with god had to induce  divine elements into the teaching of church about relations of god and  humans. god and history, god and church , substantiating thus the right  of church to interfere in the secular life. At present it is necessary  to mention from some of such ideological streams also Christocentrism,  which  is often manifested in the concept of church policy by pope and by some  of Slovak Catholic bishops. In this process of construing theoretical foundations  to church for domination over people a „deification of church itself" came  about, which created a basis for theoretical justification enabling in a very flexible way to substantiate theoretically the claims of church  to power ( alongside with wealth ). The whole of these theoretical foundations  enabled also to formulate flexibly the demands of church and its interference    ( supposed that these theoretical prerequisites are based on exclusive  faith which is never allowed to be exposed to any criticism or doubts  based on reason .) Secular humanism on the other hand is based on scientific  knowledge, overcoming any mysticism, considering the moral behaviour of  humans as being derived from own power of thinking and conscience. Values  such as morals are not judged isolated from their social and economic influences.  All that bears the purpose to reach for humanity not to be just an object  of politics, namely a  toy in the hands of those who derive their powers  from supernatural sources, but to make humans a subject of politics and  have them shape the meaning of their own existence and deeds.

GO TO FULL TEXT                                GO to Title Seminar



  2.Preparing the basic treaty  (= BT ) of Slovak republic and Vartican makes foundations  for re catholicising Slovak republic. ( by P. Prusák )

(abstracts)

The political powers of SR decided  to prepare the BT with exclusion of public, without any WITHOUT discussions or consultations with citizens , making thus the document to be not legible  or not controllable . It is being prepared in closed cabinets. The legal  system is violated . First a systemic legal provision to guarantee equal  rights to all churches should have been accepted. The BT violates also  the principle of neutral status of the State authority and the equal rights  of all citizens as declared by the article 1. of Slovak Constitution.. The philosophy and sources of BT :

1.) Admitting solely Christian traditions  ( especially Cyril-Methodian ones. )

2.) The principle of preferring majority, namely the fact that Catholics make up about 63 % of total population of Slovak republic.

3.) The spiritual and moral criteria  are based on supposition that solely the teachings of Catholic church are  guarantee of morality.

4.) The Canonical law and the social  teaching of Catholic church are made basic principles of the treaty.

These ideological criteria suggest  that the BT does not follow the aim of a workable democratic State system  and civil society. Therewith it is contrary to the Slovak Constitution- the 1-st article of which reads: „Slovak  republic is a sovereign , democratic  and law abiding State . It is not linked  to any ideology , nor religion..". The BT should secure for the Catholic church an extraordinary position  ( advantages and privileges ). The BT got an one-sided asymmetrical character  and puts the Slovak republic in a position of one-sided vassalage. The  legal freedom of thought , and conscience it is to be replaced   by  Catholic  indoctrination, Catholic religious teachings and morals. The danger of  Catholic church hegemony threatens.
This treaty  (like any other treaties) should be respectful of the neutral position of the State concerning  life stance and the democratic character of the State., which are anchored  in the Constitution.

GO TO FULL TEXT                               GO to TITLE : seminar


3.The issue  of secularisation, humanism and religion in the contemporary world. ( by  B. Kvasnička )

(abstracts)

In modern society a process of secularisation  is under way. - as a natural development , which bears of course some contradictory  features. In Slovak republic, in  conditions after 1989 is this process  probably more subject to stagnation , or even regression.. Secularisation  covers approximately one fourth of population. In younger age groups is  this proportion probably higher. The core of this contribution aims at  answering the question what can secular humanism offer to contemporary  people.   In the author's opinion the following points should be considered:
-Rational scientific explanation,  awareness of the position of human beings and his/her vocation in this  society.
-To be defenders and initiators of  co-operation between people of different life stance., especially in issues  of basic human problems- as far as we find the common language.
- To show that a principal position  in life stance does not exclude tolerance.
-To consider after analysing historical  experience and the contemporary conditions the idea of a dialogue between  people of different life stance in order to develop humanisation in the  life of individuals, and the whole.
- To shape a real image of secular  humanism on the grounds of personal behaviour and show its aims , helping  thus its propagation in our society.

GO TO FULL TEXT                                   Go to Title :seminar


Communiqué    November 7, 1998.

On Saturday November 7, 1998.   a seminar  on "CHURCH AND POLITICS" with participants from the whole country took  place in Bratislava. Its organisers were PROMETHEUS SOCIETY, which is a  civil association of adherents to materialist life stance and secular humanism

On the grounds of building a civil  society based on democracy and freedom, pluralism and tolerance -the participants  have evaluated the current state of rights of every citizen to have his/ her own opinion, as well as guarantees , that they would not be discriminated  against for their declaring it. Special attention was paid to the treaty  between the Slovak republic and Vatican which is being prepared. In this  connection the participants asked the leadership of PROMETHEUS SOCIETY  to submit to the government of Slovak republic and to the National Council  of Slovak republic a position according to which this treaty should be  fully respectful of freedom of conscience, thought and belief of all citizens  in accordance with the Constitution of Slovak republic and the Universal  Declaration on Human Rights. At the same time it is asked, that the said  treaty be given to public discussion before its acceptance by the National  Council of Slovak republic.

Participants   PROMETHEUS SOCIETY   central council ,   Bratislava

GO  to TOP                                                 HOME


 


 
 

 

 

The foundations  and aims of contemporary clericalism ( by J. Čelko )

The  church, the society and the distorted image. .

Ideas  of church about itself and abou the politics.

Links between politics and religion  are a reality. Their history is impressive. They belonged to undeniable  elements of events as early as in remote Antiquity. The religion played  an important part in struggles for power . In the Old Testament one can  see as well, exploiting religion as an efficient instrument in efforts  to dominate over the public life in the ancient Jewish nation either on  the part of hierarchic priests, or of particular social and religious streams, the Seduces, Pharisees , or Essenians

Christianity with its manifold links  to Jewish traditions , simultaneously absorbing elements of other cultures  prevailing in the that-time Roman Empire as early as in its starting period  of organisation and build-up - gets necessarily in touch with political  events. The first centuries of this era were from this point of view full  of vacillations, which were manifested by the fact that Christians were  tolerated , even esteemed by some of the rulers , and  persecuted on the  part of others .Despite it, or perhaps just due to it Christianity became  gradually homogenised, its organisation was strengthened and its material  basis expanded. It was important that under the disguise of religion it  built up an ideological and political platform which was more suitable  to ruling powers than the rest of religions in Roman Empire. This reality  was fully appreciated  by emperor Constantine the Great, who - as church  historian J. Špirko has written - joined the forces of Christianity with  building up his rule and made of Christian church a strong pillar of his  empire. Since the fourth century it became the main religion and since 380 AD - as this church historian asserts- it became the only public religion  in Roman Empire.

This joining of throne and altar came  about just in the period of collapsing Roman Empire.. At the end of the  Fourth century the Empire was divided into West- Roman    and East- Roman  empires . Under the pressure of internal and external forces the West -Roman  Empire dissolved . On the first sight one could have supposed that with  the demise of secular power the western branch of Christianity could have  been shaken or even collapsed . Due to many acting factors , which are   well- known, the church not only survived the great historical shake-ups,  but it build up gradually its strong position. And as a centralised organisation  the church could interfere in processes connected with the onset and development  of the  feudal system.. The same was true as concerns the „small" and „big" politics.- As an example one can mention the exclusive right of popes to  decide on emperors of the „Saint Roman Empire of German Nation", which  lasted for several centuries. In the feudal époque an unequivocal symbiosis  of secular rulers and church came about, which is among others confirmed  by the edict of Gregory X. : If  the task of those, who rule the State is  to protect the rights and independence of church, it is then the task of  those in the hands of whose is the ruling of church to do everything in  order to have the kings and princes carry out their sovereign might.

The Catholic church as regards its  attitude in the feudal system, took a hostile position against the efforts  of bourgeoisie to install the capitalist system.. It took a long time till  it found the common language with ruling powers of capitalist society. But finally this happened when the church construed „ the social teaching"  of  popes, its contemporary theory of the society, and found appropriate  ways how to interfere into political issues in the framework of capitalism.

Sometimes one can hear opinions, that  if the church  „makes politics" it makes it contrary to its essence and  its  mission . But this is a basic misunderstanding of the whole problem. It  is necessary to have a look how the church itself views its relation to  politics.

 

The church,  the society and the distorted image..

According to religious view, the whole  universe is a creation of supernatural powers. They have build up with  great plasticity the image of world's creation (among others the ancient Yews ), - it has been anchored in the Old Testament, which was taken over  as the „ideological armament" by Christianity. The supernatural god- as  it is said in the first part of Pentateuch and in the Old Testament in  general - made from the dirt of the earth a man and inspired into his  nostrils the breath of life. And so the man became a living being. He accommodated  him in the paradise- Eden, in order to have him cultivate it and watch  it . Shortly the god came to know that it is not good for the man to be  alone. And he made a   helping creature for him, which would  be similar to  him. The technological procedure, chosen by god at that occasion is similarly  described in the book of Genesis. We have no room to go into details. But  one cannot omit the fact that at the description of these first events  of creation , a principle of inequity has been formulated . As far as the  creation of man is depicted , the masculine human species itself is meant, but in the relation to woman , it was just a creature similar to man, which should  not be an equal partner to him, but only a helper. And this construction of ideas became the basis , on which the opinions and tendencies of three  millennia stand , and which mean a degrading position of woman in society.

In the light of attainments of science, which expand ever more, many people consider the myth of Adam's   creation  obsolete. But the Jews and the Christians including Catholics still adopt  it. Their view is far from being just an anachronism, but it is a permanent  up- dating , which has a premeditated purpose. The theological explanation  of creating humans and the ensuing human race enables the religious organisations,  including the Catholic church , to project the nature of the human society  in a distorted  mirror .

According to Bible the universe and  everything connected with it has its roots in supernatural origin , everything  consists in „divine" might .Subject to God are according to theologians, the nature and the human society. In this aspect a vast number of constructed  ideas exist - known under the notion of   „theocentrism".

One of its important features is the theological interpretation of the society - of its origin, nature and development.  According to theology, everything which is connected with humans, and society  is a manifestation of supernatural force, of a direct or indirect action  of God. In Christianity and in particular in Catholicism it is a God personalised  in His Trinity , and a great part is ascribed to Jesus Christ. The views  conceived in this direction constitute the „Christocentrism" Its active  promulgator is also the pope John Paul II . , whose ideas are in  Slovakia   vehemently propagated. For instance cardinal  J. Ch. Korec in his speech  delivered to students in Trenčín in 1991 said: „Christ did not terminate  his life and work on the cross. We carry on  his life and work. We  materialise  Christ the King in our circumstances
We materialise his kingdom in the 20- th century... Everything serves him and his work. Everything takes part in  accomplishing his plans, everything materialises them. Christ the King  is the centre -ontological , substantial centre of everything in the universe,  everything is done according to him, and according to his plans. Everything  which exists is to fulfil some task in the plan of the Kingdom of Christ."

Christianity in connection with many  views which were appropriated and adapted has formulated its philosophy  on the history. The author J. Špirko in his work „ The history of Church"  comments in this matter: „ The Christian insight concerning history as  it was first time formulated by Saint August in his work : „De Civitate Dei" considers it a struggle between good and evil, the kingdom of God  and Satan, which permanently fight each other .The struggle started by  Adam downfall and culminated by redeeming and founding the Divine Kingdom  and will end on the doomsday and transition of time into infinity, when  all problems will be resolved definitely. If one speaks about earthly empires  they consider it just manifestations of supernatural power, which creates  or negates the existence of the world, humans and society. Theologians  simply do not take into account any purposeful activities done by man , based on acquired knowledge on the laws regulating the nature and the society.  According to them God is the only and unlimited power in the hands of whom  is the history. Mystification of history makes use ofôfof of many factors. Among  these are also views about the relation God - human beings. Theology maintains  the primary existence of God and the dependence of man on him. The Catholic  journal „Spiritual shepherd" in 1978 wrote: „Lord is the power of every  call. The man is only an instrument in the hands of God." Alojz Martinec  in „Catholic News" in 1992 wrote : „According to the divine plan every human  received his plan and attitude, on that basis he should accomplish the  will of God and acquire merits for eternal life .It holds true for each  individual and for the human community, that the contract , concluded by  Lord and them has to be fulfilled" .

It should be noted that the relation  God -man is presented in varied modifications.. Often this is presented  as something based on a kind of „consanguinity", or on a mutual contract. In other instances as a kind of reflection of God within the man , which  can have varied dimensions.- starting from „democratic ones" and ending  with total dependence of man on god. An interesting construction in this  aspect was formulated by a Czech Catholic author D. Pecka, who wrote: „The  proper grandeur and misery of man manifest itself in his relation to God. The man is similar to God. But he is also dissimilar . He is similar  like the outlines of a humming- bird egg to an ellipse in which the earth  circulate around the sun. It is a similarity , but also dissimilarity. the manman man resembles existence.. But the only real, proper , unconditioned  existence is God. The human existence compared with divine existence is  more non- existence, it is nothing." (No need to comment .)

In varied church essays, or materials  meant as instruction for practical behaviour often the human free will  is mentioned. God in his infinite goodness gave to man something from himself - free will . ( if we take in consideration the just mentioned opinions  of D. Pecka. - it was not too much). Outwardly a nice thesis, - for some people  rather attractive. . But from the point of view of its practical application  the theorising theologians and practising priests get in great trouble. That is why varied aspects have been formulated, which have shifted this  problem in a not workable position. For instance in 1968 „Catholic News"  published an article „ Man and Free Will" in which it was noted: „Man has  his free will, in order to act and decide according his own  consideration. No one else can him enforce his idea" At the same time in this article  instructions are given in which direction should the free will proceed. „The free will is to serve to the end of perceiving God and the inevitability  of his existence by himself without any pressure". But what is god for  people ? Answers pronounced by theologians are really many. Their essence- despite the vague formulations - is only one and the same: Instructive  are the ideas , pronounced some time ago by German cardinal Dr .M. Faulhemer.  According to him god is the legislator of life , lord of the world, who  demands from humans obedience. People have to be in his services, because  to him as to creator belongs „ the first and last word. God stands on the first  place, not humans". So an eclectic mixture of theocentric and anthropocentric  attitudes is formed, which leads to disorientation of people and drawing  their attention away from real problems , from seeking ways how to purposefully  and actively intervene into concrete social life , which does concern them  directly.. One can say that all that is to lead to a situation when man  is more an object of politics, than an active subject to it.

The theocentrical approach is manifested  in additional systems of theological views. Its roots reach into ancient  times , it developed widely in the old Jewish religion and afterwards in  Christianity. It makes currently also a basic part of Catholicism, which  often deals with issues of earthly life, but simultaneously draws the attention  of people to „ the other world". The renown contemporary theologian Michael  Schmaus writes: „The death which befall   Jesus, brought about salvation  to all the history, to the preceding past, as well as to the future , forthcoming  after his earthly life. The life of Jesus, his activity, but above all  his death bear an eschatological , i.e. definitive content, shaping the  whole future" Slovak writer J. Dieška wrote: „ Everybody must be aware  that the only supreme principle for a Christian is God. And therefore he/she must direct all of his /her   deeds, thinking, and actions   to transcendence."...A. Š Barnáš made the following declaration: „Only in the viewpoint of supernatural  life has the human existence of the individual as well as of himself as  a social being , namely the whole society, the ultimate meaning" .

* * * * * *

The problem of eschatology would deserve  a wider essay , because it has an important position in the current religious  thinking . It is a basis for the fictions of personal immortality , whichis however in the hands of god , but to which the man can contribute by  his / hers behaviour on this earth. This is undoubtedly a consolation ,which is by church generously distributed . But it is without any guarantee, and the believers pay for it dearly. On the basis of eschatological imaginations  people in some way are cut off from real ways how to solve the problems  in the life of individuals, as well as in the whole society, including  complicated and important political issues.

Eschatology has to be replaced by other  opinions , other attitudes . In accordance with following ideas expressed  by the great German poet Heinrich Heine:

„I tell it with certainty , that our  descendants will be nicer, happier as we are. Because a believe in progress, I believe that humankind destiny is felicity, thus my ideas about god  are more noble . than those of religious people, who maintain, that god  created man only for suffering. On this earth I wished to build up trough  the bliss of free political and industrial institution beatitude , which  in the mind of religious ones should commence only after the doomsday int  he heaven".

While dealing with the matter of relations:god-man-society, one has to mention the issue of possibility to recognise god - what kind of being he is, what kind of might he is, and especially  what are his intentions like, what people can or cannot expect from all  of it. And as concerns the matter of human free will , also what people  can, and what they must do. All these questions and many others are fully  substantiated if we take into account the assertion, that historic events  are dependent on god , and that people at solving social and also political  problems should follow injunctions of god.

According to theologians it is not  possible to come to know god directly. It is possible only via divine achievements  and on the basis of revelations. One speaks sometimes also about on „supernatural  instructions", which have a greater value , than the „cool human reason."A kind of „acquiring mediated knowledge" is thus recommended. in which  mysticism plays the decisive part. Such a position was taken also by Andrej  Hlinka, when he in his „ Notes of Mírov" told: „to recognise God, faith,  and due to faith the deity and Messiah nature of Jesus, and his being son  of God , is beyond powers of man . Spiritual gift, science, and human accounts  cannot lift us to it. God himself has to visualise himself. He has to be  the harbinger of Christ. .It depends only on man to accept this belief".  So god still keeps to be an enigmatic   being, and a not fathomable power, the action of whom man can never foresee , neither to know whether he  will manifest himself as a „a benevolent foresight " , or as a punishing  „master" , who can control everything.. But adopting such a position leads  to certain forms of fatalism , to braking initiative and purposeful efforts  of people in varied situations including political happenings and struggles, forming an inseparable facet.;

Theological concepts of the society  and its history are full of contradictions., which the church cannot overcome. There is the divine predestination , which is the basis of everything  concerning the society. Man and the whole humankind are instruments in  divine hands, but on the other hand it admits, that the historical developmentis to some extent the result of human activity, due to manifesting free  will presented to man by god.. This mystifying dualism is not- as experience  has proved - a workable basis for practical activity of adherents to social   progress and humanism. Secular humanists have an ideological platform ever  developing and amending , which reacts more adequately to the needs connected  with progress of human society. . Many things and proofs could be mentioned  in this context . For the sake of conciseness   I will touch only one of  them.: .The contemplation expressed time ago by academician Andrej Sirácky., when in his work „The social world of man" he has written:. „I do not project  into the future any mystical elements. Neither the future - similarly like  the past -(except some theological mystification of reality ) will follow  an „enigmatic" process, in which the man is a passive toy in the hands  of „supernatural" powers, of the fate or god -namely in that sense of the  word , that his route is inevitably determined . Conversely, I think that  in the foreseeable future the history of humankind will develop on the  historical- social arena , where varied social and ideological movements  and streams will meet , under the surface of which material and existential  concerns and efforts would be reflected . In such a process - on a differentiated  level- the fate of individuals will be framed."

Ideas of  church about itself and about the politics.

There are many opinions concerning  churches, denominations, religious organisations etc. -it was so in the  past , and is also at present. They deal with origin, features, mission, or forms and methods of action of these- to some extent specific social  subjects. In general they can be ranged into two big groups. Into one of  these belong the views of representatives of those organisations themselves. They consist of a really great multitude of views, often contradictory,  in many aspects divided , even hateful. Interesting part is being played  by theological constructions about the exceptional and exclusive nature  of some of the religious movements and of its organisation structure resulting  from it. In this way tensions arise between the big and small religious  streams, ( Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism ,etc. )- but also within  themselves . For instance in Christianity - divided are the views accepted by Catholics,  Orthodox, Protestants,. To overcome this is the aim of ecumenism , but  it has not brought about by far the expectations of its founders and contemporary  organisers. The only resulting issue of interest is the contemporary controversy  in Orthodox churches on the matter if they should be or not a part of the  World Council of Churches , and what should be their position to ecumenism  like

Another group of opinions about religious  organisations comes from non-denominational circles - and many of representatives  of this group have formulated their ideas at the occasion of their departure  from the churches, or other structures . Certainly by the notion : „non-denominational"  a wide spectrum of opinions is being understood, either in the historical  relation , or in contemporary époque. Important position is taken in this  aspect by humanist attitudes in general , and regarding religious organisations, in particular. We are concerned especially with the issue of involvement  of Catholic church in matters of politics.
While considering the relations of  Catholic church to political matters, it is necessary to take into account  the methods of its self-reflection .  It is a specific view on its origin,  core and nature as well as its mission.

The church seeks in supernatural sphere  not only the origin of religion, but also of itself as the „organised Christianity".  The contemporary Catholic theologian, Michael Schmaus says : „One has to  view the church as originating from Christ, but not from some general notion  of society. .." Simultaneously he gives instructions , how should be the  origin of church understood: „The church is the work of the divine Trinity, which made its foundations .It means by God the Father,, through his Son  in the Holy Spirit. It reflects the threefold life of God and takes part  in it. In the unity of God has the church its own image of unity , and  from the divine Trinity the church derives its plurality . Because the  church is not only the „mystical body", but a concrete organism, acting  through people among people"   he continues as follows: „ The legal structure of church , which has its origin in Christ does not exclude that the forms  of its materialising are conditioned by the relevant historical situation,  which is reflected in it. If the components originating from Christ are  to be marked as „divine element", the specific historical manifestation  presents the „human element". Interesting is the contemplation about the  relation of these two „elements". For the sake of conciseness suffice to  say, that its contents is the thesis about symbiosis of the divine intentions  on the one hand , and the „free human decision making" on the other hand.  Just to comment , that it is again something complicated and for a critical-minded  man an unacceptable construction.

On a dualistic basis are backed also  the theological explanations of the nature and characteristics of church, The prime ideas in them are mystical elements. For instance in the „Small  Encyclopaedia of Theology" is a statement, that the church is the enigmatic  body of Christ (Corpus Christi mysticum) , head of which is Christ, and  which is revived by Holy Spirit as its soul. We ( the believers ) are its  limbs and that is what we are  united  all   together . It prompts an incomparable  value to church , on the head of which Christ himself stands...."As follows,  the origin of church is derived from supernatural sources, but it is constituted  by humans.. In this connection the views of already mentioned M. Schmauscan be referred to: „We can consider church a community of believers in  Christ (community of salvation ) and a socially shaped institution for  mediating salvation  (institution of salvation) The church is both in one.  But sometimes major stress is put on the one aspect, sometimes on the other.  "If we return to the „Small Encyclopaedia of Theology" one can read there  the following: „The church is a divine-human institution. While in the  human aspects there can be errors and deficiencies, even sins and offences,  its divine face is clean and unstained"   But what is the „divine face" of  church remains non-comprehensive to reason.. Instead of reason at that  junction only the faith works. .Michael Schmaus writes: „Because the church  is an enigma , it is the object of faith. Many things about church can  be understood by means serving to acquire knowledge in science, such as  phenomenological observations, historical research, philological explanation,  psychological analysis, scientific investigation of religions, etc. But  what the church really is can be grasped only by humans  who  believe  . And we have thus beside the enigmatic and rationally non- perceptible god also  at least partially enigmatic church . And according to theologians - people  should consider it the only institution authorised to control   their lives.

The Second Vatican Council held in  the sixties, issued among others a document „Lumen gentium" (About the  church) It deals with many aspects regarding church , including its mission  in the society. In one of its parts there is a statement :"The church enters  the human history , although it outlasts the duration of nations and their  boundaries." So the church makes claims to a mission which extends beyond  the time and history, till the „light is reached , which does not know  any nightfall" It should guide the whole humankind into that „eternal"  light. For this chimerical promise ,the church wants that people submit  in everything, that they think and act according to churches injunctions.  And because the life, which is according to claims of theologians - only  preparation to the „eternal" afterlife - this life consists of „spiritual"  and the „profane" material side , the church is involved in both of them.  Therefore they claim that the church fulfils religious and simultaneously  non- religious aims. These , of course often overlap, and sometimes it  is not possible to find the dividing line.. For instance when the priest  during his service or at the communion gives advice to believers for some  actions in political life.

The weekly „ Catholic News" published in 1992 an article by Š Vargaš under an interesting heading: „ Christian-the citizen of two worlds" It asserts the following idea: A Christian does  not belong to this world, but despite he /she lives here and fulfils herea definite task. A Christian is thus citizen of two worlds .He lives an  earthly life , which is subject to supernatural world -of Divine Kingdom.The belonging to two worlds gives a meaning to his existence, thinking  and acting. A Christian has got on this earth a mission., he bears the  responsibility for this world."   Such an encouraging advise inevitably refers  to political sphere , without any doubt. It is never just by chance if  the church - according to circumstances more or less intensely and more  or less systematically , either recommend, or resolutely demand the believers  to participate in political happenings .An exemplary instance is the proclamation  of the Bishops Conference to elections in 1998.

The church derives its active interference  into political issues from varied attributes, ascribed to the church by  itself , and on the ground of which it feels to be above everything and  everyone including the State . It was pronounced clearly by university  professor Dr.R. Weiler on the symposium in Hamburg, when he affirmed that  the church neither in the sphere of politics accepts solely the right of  the State, because „ the church has its own rights and thus the right to  participate in politics as an independent factor." The Editor in chief  of Polish Catholic newspaper „Tygodnik Powszechny" - Jerzy Turowicz   asserts,   that the church has not only right, but it is its duty to take positions  in political issues.

Sure, the proclamations of various  apologetics in that direction are supported by the highest circles of church,   including pope and documents issued by him .  Let us have a look on the  Instruction about the Christian freedom and liberation, which was published  by the Congregation of Vatican for the Doctrine of Faith . It says: „God  liberates his people , He gives them progeny, land, laws, according provisions  of His Contract and in expectation of further Contract. Thus it is not  possible to isolate the political aspect, it is necessary to consider it  in the light of religious aspects to which it belongs." The same , but  with far more flourish was pronounced by pope Paul John II. In the framework  of his reminiscences on the 900 -th anniversary of the death of pope Gregory VII., renown among others by his limitless greed for secular powers - who  declared: „The church reclaims the right to preach the faith, always ,everywhere and to pronounce its moral judgment also in issues which concern  political establishment.

It is worth noting the pope's comment  about the moral judgment, because it has from both theoretical and practical  aspects a great importance. Moral principles are considered legitimate  by all people, thus they have to be observed on the part of the State .In  Slovakia   the church exerts also a great initiative. It has been  expounded also by „Catholic News." while claiming: in the article „Church  and the world" : „Catholics should   take care with great responsibility  that the principles and recommendations of Church to a moral life of individuals  and the society in accordance with elements of Gospel be materialised in  all spheres of human life, including in economic, social, cultural , political,  and religious ones.

It is known that since the last turnover  the problem of relation between morals and politics was at several occasions  discussed .The efforts exerted in this direction did not bring about much  success. It is understandable since the protagonists of moralising in the  field of politics stood on ecclesiastic attitudes. In the theological perceptions  the roots of morals lead also to god and to the injunctions given by him  to humans , thus these cannot be altered by anybody.. The moral behaviour  of people is to be judged as acts originated by human will and divine will( according to Slovak theologian,- Š Hatala.)- In the concept of church  the supernatural force,- god not only predestines , but also makes sanctions  to moral behaviour of humans. But it is not a direct relation god - human  being . Irreplaceable part is allegedly played at it by church . Š Hatala  puts it in this way: „The guidance of people in human life moves on the  level of morality and is subject to the teaching authority of church ,which issues and explains the norms, valid for the conscience of human  being. Again this does not concern the sphere of religion, but the secular  activities, including economic, and political ones.

Humanism on the grounds of reality  and scientific achievements rejects this- by mysticism inspired theological  concept of morality, which is cut off from the real „earthly" life and  events.. It considers the morality a historical phenomenon. Morals change  in relation to economic and other social relations - as a constituent to  progress in the material and spiritual spheres. In this framework the mutual  influence of morals and politics is materialised , the basic of which is  economy, regardless if people realise this fact or not . There is a mutual  overlap of politics and morals. Sometimes these two elements are identified. That is the reality, which is taken by humanism as a matter of fact., but at the same time they make efforts to improve the relations between  politics and morals. In this way a framework is building up which should  enable people to be not only objects of politics , but make them capable  ever more to contribute to the political dealings - and play a role of active  and purposefully interfering subjects. Only in this way can a political  emancipation be reached , which represents one of the constituents of efforts  to the secular humanists, so that humans in the framework of natural and  historical development can decide for themselves about the meaning of their  existence and actions.

GO TO TITLE seminar                                                                                    HOME

 

 



 

 


 
 

The basic  treaty (= BT) of Slovak republic and Vatican makes foundations for re-catholicisingt he Slovak republic. (by P.Prusák )

It is known in our public, that a BasicTreaty (BT) is being prepared which is to set up foundations to the philosophy  how to legalise the relations between State and churches in Slovak republic.  As a matter of fact the officials responsible for the project of treaty  are eminently concerned to reach for it a maximal acknowledgement of the  community. Contrary to this effort is the fact , that the treaty is being  prepared in a way concealed from public,- in closed cabinets („behind closed  doors"). They refuse to put it for a public discussion with the argument,  that it is not a usual diplomatic policy to prepare deals with the Holy  Sea with participation of public. According to vice-president of National  Council of SR Mr.A.M. Húska , simply because „they have no intention to  take in consideration opinions expressed in a public discussion and tofollow them , since they lead to a   spiritual emptiness" ( published indaily „ Slovenská Republika" August 21, 1997 )

Argumentation that such is the policy  of preparing international treaties is incorrect and even less acceptable  is the argument of Mr.A:M. Húska, because this is not a common treaty advantageous  for both parties, but an „asymmetrical" treaty with advantages solely for  one of the parties- the Vatican.. Namely the BT formally entitles Vaticanvia its sub -structures, the Catholic church, to interfere in internal  affairs of Slovak republic, to decide upon ,or to outline some parts ofthe mind and life of its population , to secure for Catholic church advantages  and privileges via restitution of churches real estates alongside with  substantial State subsidies and taxes, which is infringement upon sovereignty  of Slovak republic. If the government of SR decided to exclude the publicfrom all stages of preparing BT , to eliminate any consultations with it  then such a document will be necessarily illegible and uncontrollable,  leading thus to violations of principles of democracy, of a democratic  law abiding State.

The treaty should be enacted by passing  it as a law in the National Council of SR after it had been signed by representatives  of both contracting States. Shall the MPs have a chance to express their  opinion and suggestions ? Such a treaty must be passed by the parliament, because its practical implementation calls for changes in our legislation  as well as new expenses from the State budget.

While preparing this BT , our legal  system has not been observed. According to director of Institute for State  and Church Relations - Mr. P.Mulík , the adopted procedure does not contradict  logistics of the legal system by accepting first a treaty with Vatican( on the status of Catholic church in society and on securing funds for  its activities ), and only thereafter preparing a particular system of  laws securing equality of all churches and religious organisations in legal  aspects. Do these points constitute the specific features of the model  how to solve State - church relations in Slovak republic ? All the laws  and regulations which should govern relations between the State and only  some of the especially selected churches or groups of disparate philosophical  life stance - contradict the principle of equality as regards the law,  they lead to discrimination against minority churches and secular communities,  prolonging thus the distance in our way to a law abiding State.. Not to  speak about the fact that such a process is at variance with the Constitution  of Slovak republic , the article 1. of which reads: „ Slovak republic is  a sovereign, democratic and law abiding State .It is not linked to any  ideology, nor religion" The fact itself of concluding a special treaty  with that State , namely with the headquarters of only one of the churches  (regardless of its constituting the majority )- violates the principle  of the neutral position of the State as concerns the life stance of citizens,  and the equality of citizens in relation to the legal system in force. The only non-discriminating means how to solve the State -church relations  and relations between citizens themselves is passing a general legal instrument  enabling all of associations and communities to be freely established and  freely act. Therefore all philosophies and their manifestations which contradict  the Constitution of Slovak republic should not appear in this BT. Otherwisecitizens without religious denomination and atheists cannot feel in their  homeland as free citizens and they would not consider this country their  own .Besides, Slovak republic had signed multilateral covenants and accepted  commitment concerning human rights and freedoms. The BT is not consistent  with some principles of these documents, e.g. with the principle of neutral  position in issues of life stance, equal status of all citizens in legislation, all of these representing the essential conditions for democracy.

The BT should be according to representative  of State Secretary of Vatican Jean Luis Taurran , a philosophy of legal  solution to relations between State and churches, on the basis of which  additional particular contracts should be prepared.. Let us see on what  kind of philosophy are the principles of BT formulated , how they observe  the Constitution of Slovakia , the neutrality of life stance, the principle  of law abiding State, and the principle of a civil society. ? ( According to the preliminary draft , as published in daily „Pravda" on October 30.1997)

Many features are in this respect prompted  by the following starting positions, and resources to be applied in the  treaty

1Christian  traditions ( especially  those of Cyril and Methodus = ancient proselytisers of Great-Moravian Empire) and the historical merits of churches.

2 Majority approach , i.e. the fact  that Catholics constitute up to 63 % of the total population of Slovakia.

3 Spiritual and moral criteria presuming  that the church is the only guarantee of the morality in the community

4 Canonical   law and social teaching  of church .
 
 

All these basic points of BT suggest  that it does not take in consideration basic aim consistent with a workable  democratic legal system and of a civil society.

Nobody wants to deny some of historical  merits of churches in preserving and developing the Slovak nation. However  our history cannot be confined only to Christian traditions .Slovakia was  influenced by several other ideas, social, philosophical currents, and  movements, starting from antique cultures, through renaissance, Enlightenment, up to the contemporary humanism. The Treaty turns a blind eye on their  splendid ideals and values, it accepts only Christian traditions, in order  to substantiate the privileged status of Catholic Church in the community.Such a position was confirmed times and again by cardinal Korec, when he  in his Christmas speech expressed repugnance to ideas of Enlightenment,  which allegedly cannot offer any hopes for humans and the world. Such one-sided  views on the history of this nation deprives it of an important humanist  space and pulls the church and alongside with it the whole society back  in the Middle Ages. This is confirmed by the fact that at preparing the  Treaty the civil principle is being totally ignored. The principle of civil  society should be one of the basic pillars of the deal to be prepared with  the Catholic church.

In the light of human rights and freedoms, the principle of preferring majority, consisting in advantages and privileges  to Catholic church , does not have any substantiation. In this context  one has to stress that human rights are not deniable , not alienable and  not subject to statute limitations .These rights are thus independent on  the said preferences. Among such rights are the freedom of thought and  conscience, freedom of belief. (COMMENT OF TRANSLATOR : In French  wording : liberté de CONVICTION -as per international documents  in French language.-This comment is necessary because the English notion„  belief" is usually misinterpreted in Slovak texts as   „religious  creed ") The application of the majority principle in Draft Treaty  leads to discrimination against other churches and religious organisations  as well as citizens without religious denomination.. No wonder , that such  principles and other features of BT are criticised by objections on the  part of Lutherans .

The treaty is to anchor a kind of monopoly  for the Catholic church in the spiritual and moral spheres of the society  and individuals, it wants the church to be dubbed as the only warrantor  of morality , and of the spiritual and moral revival, ignoring the factt  hat promoting one single group of society as a representative of global  values, preferred over any legislature and laws in force is a violation  of democracy and freedom. These days, the sphere of spirituality and morals  in the society and of the individual is one of so complicated issues that  it cannot be solved by church , especially not by teaching religious dogmas  and by moralising.

In its preamble as well as in many  articles the BT refers to canonical law. The (former ) prime minister V. Mečiar also told , (in daily „Slovenská Republika" on July 21,1997. ) that  the basis for the BT shall be the canonical law and the social -economic  teaching of church. Such a requirement and its materialising give the BT  predominantly religious features in its nature, with the aim of influencing  the legal solution of relations between State and churches in favor of  individual religious denominations. .It puts foundations for pressures  of churches to influence the State authority and its legislation in the  spirit of the Catholic doctrine , which is supposed to have a generally  binding character As it seems, the promotion and preference of canonical  law, as well as of the Christian social teachings in the Treaty, invokes  changes in legislative, it degrades and weakens the State legislature bodies,  it does not lead to a civil society, to human freedoms, but to a predominance of a religious  ideology.

What are the structure and the trends  of BT like ? One could suppose that we are a law abiding State and the churches and religious organisations exert their activities in the framework  of the Constitutional establishment of Slovak republic. The recent policy  of some political parties and of the government of SR indicate that the  treaty to be prepared could turn out a cartoon - like image of a law abiding  State and of a civil society, democracy and liberty. Because the treaty  is to shift the solution of State-church relations and to fix it in such  a  position that its philosophy, its principles and provisions make it contradictory  to the Constitution of SR.  (especially its article 1.),   as well as to some  laws , to the State legislative, and thus to the basic rights of citizens.  No doubt that its acceptance will be enforced by amendments to some laws  currently in force , and by passing new ones. It means that one cannot  accept the assertion of a. M. Húska , that the positions taken by this  treaty are not contradictory to our Constitution, nor the proclamation  of former  prime minister Mečiar , saying that everything advantageous to church  is advantageous to the State as well. ( The history of Vatican and of the  Catholic church on the one hand , and that of the secular powers / the  States on the other hand are a story of a continuous struggle for power,  wealth and dominance over the society, including the contemporary era.). The above mentioned ideological starting points of the BT contradict  to basic features of a secular State .. To be precise , some of the following  principles and articles of treaty are at variance with it.:

New notions are introduced into the treaty- such as :freedom of religion, freedom of Catholic church according to canonical law , and principles of religious creed and morals, which  are unknown to our legal system and are not consistent with article 24  of the Constitution. Similarly controversial is the principle sub 7. and  14 which concern prevention of collisions in conscience and the right to  stipulations in conscience The principle sub 8. about the independence  of Catholic church in matters of territorial administration, in its article7. maintains that SR shall be respectful of the exclusive right of the  Holy Sea and its subjects to establish, to change, and to resolve all structural  issues in such a way as indicated by canonical law. In this respect a question  can arise , why the treaty refers to the canonical law, when the boundaries  of administrative church districts are co-ordinated with the State border  and the issue concerns internal State territorial administration.

Discrepant with the interest of Slovak  republic are also principles sub 10 and sub 11 which concern economic provisions  for Catholic church and their historical real estate.. In this respect  the church demands exclusion of any State authorisation in affairs of acquiring  financial means and of disposing with them. From this claim a commitment  for the Sate follows to implement necessary legislative and taxation provisions, to change the laws dealing with tax regulations. .

The principle sub 11. contains a formulation  that the SR acknowledges the right to all the property which has been till  now acquired by church ( „historical property" ). This claim is substantiated  by argumentation , that the restitution of church real estates ( including  those of religious orders ) was accomplished only to a limited extent,  despite the fact that the Slovak republic was unparalleled in extent and  speed of returning property to churches as compared with other post- socialistcountries.. It is thus not quite clear whose rights are represented by  Slovak republic at preparing this treaty. But it remains clear that the  State representatives dealing in this  issue make the Catholic church the biggest owner of land, and they restore  within   the church its feudal relations.

The principle sub 17. concerns marriage  and contains a host of issues concerning family and labour legal system. The church is much concerned with family and strengthening its own position  in it. Therefore the whole batch of these problems should be consulted  with experts in family law.

The principles sub17. and 18 formulate  the basis for educating children, and of educational and up-bringing activities  of Catholic church. There is a great anomaly: The State is supposed to finance teaching of religion at State schools and the educational and up-bringing  system of Catholic church in general, but the church is to decide who will  teach and what will be taught, all that is the competence of church and  canonical right. Such anomalies are abundant in the BT. It is not just  by chance that the issues of education, school system , upbringing and  education, the principles of economic provisions and real estate for church are the essence of the treaty. It is more than clear that if the Catholic  church is to fulfil the role of warrantor and ideological supervisor of  the society's morals- what the church as a matter of fact strives for  -then it must take full control of adequate resorts such as schooling system,  culture, state legislature and at last, but not at least the mass media.. And that is the way how to transform the young democracy in a religious  State .

The fact itself of concluding a bilateral  international treaty by a pluralist State which concerns only a single  religion, violates the neutral position in matters of life stance , and  at the same time the legal equality of all churches and citizens regardless  of their persuasion. No doubt that the treaty should secure to the Catholic  church a status of special position, which the other churches , religious  organisations , and secular humanism do not enjoy. Does the Catholic church  want to underline by its claims to such a privileged position the truthfulness  of its teachings as compared with errors and immorality of those people  who profess a  different  creed or philosophy? The treaty is a manifestation  of distrust against the truths of people who adopted some other life stance., i e, distrust against democracy and freedom- all values the church cannot  put up with? As though that church were the single flagship of truth and  morals. She is not able to endure the idea, that only in a pluralist society  with a diversity of concerns and values can be the human being free.

As mentioned above, the BT is asymmetrical  and on-sided in its nature. As an international treaty it contains a host  of commitments of Slovak republic in favour of Vatican, but it does not  feature any commitments of Vatican in favour of Slovak republic , except  the pledge of the Holy Sea to apply all means for shaping the conscience  of Slovaks professing Catholic faith (see principle sub 4, art.3 ) It does  not contain any guarantees of respecting matters of concern to Slovak State.The asymmetrical nature of treaty consist in a misbalance between the autonomy  and sovereignty of the State and the autonomy of Catholic church. The church  is granted more extensive independence from the State than the State from  church, e. g. principle sub 4 stating that the Slovak republic should not  interfere into ways of acquiring financial means by church and its disposing  with them.. The only duty of State is to support the church financially. This and all treaties to come between SR and Vatican should be respectful of  a neutral position in matters of life stance as an essential feature  of a democratic State.

A definite negation of the citizens  rights and that of Slovak republic's sovereignty consists also in the fact, that the mind of citizens, their acceptance of values, the whole style  of living should be regulated, and moulded according to provisions of a  certain kind of international treaty, which is not binding vice versa.  The Vatican does not take by the treaty any commitments. The treaty gives  preference to advantages of the Vatican which stand above the advantages  to this nation and State. From this point of view , the treaty puts the  Slovak republic in a position of one-sided vassalage. Because like any  bilateral treaty concluded between two equal and sovereign States, this  treaty between SR and Vatican should regulate the mutual relations as between two equal and sovereign parties, but it cannot solve such issues which  belong exclusively to Slovak republic e.g. property matters, financial  issues etc. It is a kind of degradation to Slovak legislation, which is  manifested also by attempts to regulate the mutual relations by laws ,which should be agreed upon and co-ordinated in advance with the demands  of church. It is an attempt to induce the canonical law in the Slovak legislation,  or at least to approximate to it, which would mean that  the   State administration,  including the parliament would renounce at least a part of their rights  and sovereignty as well as of freedom to a democratic establishment of  the   State.

The basis for a working democratic  system is pluralism in matters of interest,  values, dialogue and consensus  in the  society , all of which is to be considered quite normal in a working  civil society. If the BT grants privileges to a single life stance, a single  creed, a single religious denomination, than it violates the social consensus, which is inconsistent with democracy and freedom.

The BT deserves more attention because  it will have a long- lasting impact, on the grounds of its philosophy and  principles agreed upon, since additional partial deals will be proposed. Thus according that philosophy and principles, the basic ideas of Slovak  republic are going to be distorted i.e. the rights and freedoms of citizens  are going to be replaced by Catholic doctrine, religious creed and morals,  which leads to substantially impaired manifestation of State's neutral  position, its securing equality and its defending democracy versus the  advancing hegemony of Catholic church.

The pope John Paul II. wrote a book: „To pass the threshold of hope." (Bratislava 1995 ) in which he appealed  to Christians and above all to Catholics not to  be afraid of truth about themselves. I as a man not professing religion, atheist- am not afraid of Catholic  creed, but I am afraid of recatholicising , clericalism and religious fundamentalism.  In the circumstances of Slovak republic, the hegemonic aspirations of Catholic  churches hierarchy, enjoying the support of pro- Christian political parties,  and State officials flourish so much, that there is a danger of regression  to democracy and replacing it with a confessional State.

In general the idea prevails that the  first priority belong to matters of concern to the whole society, and to  well-being of citizens, that is why one has to eliminate privileges and  advantages granted to certain groups , either confessional ones, or non-confessional  ones. The rights and freedoms of citizen call for eliminating the influence  of churches on the proceed of State and its direction so that its neutral  legal nature be preserved. The Constitution of SR, its legislation and  legislature, as well as the State and public institutions should keep their  independence , a neutral position, they cannot allow that any one of religious  denominations acquire a dominant position in this society and consequently  that it would rule and direct the whole public and civil life.

If we are concerned by Slovak republic's  future, its contributing in the treasury of spiritual and cultural values,  we have to be respectful of all philosophical,  religious, and cultural  differences , and the free competition between them having its roots in  that diversity as the way to mutual enrichment and to a civil society on  the basis of humanism, ethics and mutual tolerance. Such a harmonious workable  society calls for separation of State .and churches

GO to TITLE : seminar                                                                    HOME

                                                     

 



 

 


 
 

The issue  of secularisation, humanism and religion in the contemporary world.
(by  B. Kvasnička )

Introductory  remarks

Secularisation  as an  objective historical  and  social process conditioned  by dialectic  controversies .

Features  of secularisation process in Slovakia

Secular  humanism and the contemporary human society

 

 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

This contribution is to present a material  for thought and discussion, and it does not suppose to have solved the  problems linked with this theme. From theoretical and methodological points  of view , it is a kind of sociological contemplation or even a kind of  sociologic supposition. Namely it cannot be sufficiently backed by up-dated  and concrete empirical research.  Why is it so , no need to explain , suffice  to point out the real possibilities of research concerning secularisation  in its relation to religion currently in Slovakia --i.e. since the  overturn at the end of the eighties. That is why I attempted to compensate  the lack of concrete empirical and research materials by preceding experience  based on the study of the phenomena of religion and secularisation in general,  and in Slovak society in particular. As a result of this follows, that  the material is presented just as theses which the contribution is about to point out .  Perhaps this form could also contribute to complete the framework  of the main themes of our current proceedings.

Secularisation  as an objective historical and social process conditioned  by dialectic  controversies .

With great development of science , technology, knowledge , as well as purposeful and successful social activities,- the process of secularisation became a characteristic feature of the  modern society, at which the thinking and behaviour of people is marked  by riddance of influences exerted by religious conceptions, ideas, norms,  ceremonies , and institutions. Sociological investigations prove , that  for the progress of secularisation especially propitious are periods of  economic boom, stability and prosperity, as well as a rising cultural standard  of wide strata of population.. Opposite social features and tendencieshelp reviving religion. Nursing ground for religion is produced also by  such phenomena as material consumerism, moral bivalence , spiritual emptiness  and lack of any prospects , even in economically prosperous countries.One can thus witness certain contradictions at the progress of secularisation  in  modern society.

Neither the economically advanced States  are capable to deal with the reasons and consequences of material and spiritual  misery, especially in developing countries, but many a time directly in  their own metropolitan areas of Western countries, or if you want:- those  of the „Rich North". Extensive material and spiritual poverty evokes necessarily  social tension. These tensions lead on the one hand to social and political  radicalisation of labour force, but above all of people deprived of working  opportunities, those on the margin of society, underprivileged ones, even  of whole social groups. Their radical social and political activities promote  their indifference to religion, thus acting in favour of secularisation.  On the other hand the material and spiritual poverty can deepen the feelings  of hopelessness in people, weaken their trust in themselves, and  makes   them turning their backs to „this world", which is hostile and alien ,  all of which works in favour of religion. . One can see thus another important  contradiction in development of secularisation in  modern society.

We have by far not completely exhausted  the problem of current development of secularisation. As an example we  mention at least activation of the fundamentalist wing of Islam , in its  confrontation with the „material - consumerism" and „impiety" of the western  civilisation .  No need to stress what is the role of overlapping religion  and nationalism at reviving and instigating religious aggressive feelings.  (as example :situation in Balkan )

One can summarise: In the framework  of the development of society is the extent, intensity and depth of secularisation  a result of contradicting factors , it takes a contradictory course , one  should count not only with its stagnation, but also with its regression.

Features  of secularisation  process in Slovakia .

In 1989 several conditions for a substantial  influence of religion in this society were created,- :such as : extending  the room to their activities by legislation, new facilities in the massmedia , especially in the television, work with the youth . increased moral  and financial support on the part of the State ; chance to engage in profitable  enterprising  activities to churches , etc. In some problems of everyday life, like lacking  existential safety and need , people can turn to religion, seeking spiritual   re-assurance and hope, but also for church charity. Also less religious  people and a part of youth consider the religion an important , or even  inevitable factor of combating amorality , crimes , drug addiction, etc.

On the other hand the religious organisations  in Slovakia are also confronted with several problems of society, which  is oriented on market and profit. . With such problems the churches in  classical countries of market economy try to cope with little avail. It  pertains  especially to  the „practical" , „economic materialism", drug trafficking, spread of pornography, varied forms of commercially exploited sex  etc.  A  special problem remains for churches how to appease the religious believers  with the sharp social contrasts , which are already characteristic for  the Slovak community, as well. In a democratic and pluralist State, the  religious organisations cannot take in consideration, that the public opinion  gets to be aware of manifestations of religious superiority , efforts to  reach hegemony of a certain church and authoritarian pressures to accept  only the religious concepts of morality, family , marriage and sexual life. For several of the churches it will be not easy to find consent with  influences coming from advanced western countries- with more modern religious  views, and with more secular ways of thinking and living even of Christians, as well as with non-traditional and sometimes not- Christian movements, streams , and sects.

It follows , that substantial changes  in Slovakia  in the last ten years have some influence also on the process  of secularisation .  With great deal of problems, contradictions, negative and positive factors , are the religions confronted   too. The  process of secularisation is currently more under the influence of strong  factors of stagnation, or even of regressive factors. Simultaneously one  cannot exclude some new factors favourable for progress of secularisation.

In general the process of secularisation  remains a necessary component of development to the contemporary , namely  also to the Slovak society. One has to see on the one hand the reality  of Slovakia taking one of the prime positions in Europe - as concerns religiosity,. On the other hand according to data of census in 1991 (at that time in  former  Czechoslovakia ), 9,7 % of citizens declared to be without religious denomination.  No religious adherence was declared by additional 17,5 %. Altogether 27,2% of citizens declared their non- adherence to any religion. Personally  I consider a very realistic assessment , that the process of secularisation  has reached completely at least one forth of inhabitants. In the population  groups of up to 30 -35 ys is the percentage of secularisation certainly  higher. As far as concerns the further development of secularisation in  this nation, one can possibly presume in relation to shifts in generations  its further progress. Secularisation will be more evident in younger age  groups , or at least in a part of them.

Secular  humanism and the contemporary human society
 

What can secular humanism offer to  contemporary men ? I want to deal with this question - as with the core  off this contribution just in theses ,-and in its general outlines.

Let me make a short historical detour, a kind of historical parallel .Namely I think that we live including  the major part of this globe in conditions of a forthcoming great turnover  of civilisation , similarly like people went through in the époque of declining  slavery  system of Roman Empire, at the break-down of the medieval society,  and in the era of the social and national revolutions of this Age. All  of these turning points are very interesting from the point of view of  religion, secularisation and humanism.

On the one hand the old religions ,or movement but also extremist religious sects disappeared and new ones  came up. Superstitions , magicians, fortune tellers , astrology, horoscopes  and quackery of different kind flourished.   As concrete comparisons I refer  to the era of imperial Rome , the seventeenth and eighteenth century in  Europe, and finally the contemporary western, but also at least partially  our own society. Instead of many instances at least one of them : The Slovak  daily „SME" repeatedly published an advertisement reading as follows: "Do you know, that Slovaks are a chosen nation , in which the son of god  Imanuel will be born this year?   Shortly thereafter a great purge will be  accomplished . Slovakia will have its political defender , who will lead  us in this period of crisis.. Only the true spiritual knowledge will enable  you to survive. Read the book by Natalie de Lemeny- Makedone : „The eternal  laws"

In all of historical overturns the  prevailing moral values and criteria were shaken with manifestations of  amorality, especially on the part of those who were overfed with luxury, those morally declassified in ruling strata. See phenomena such as pedophilia , and child prostitution. In contrast to the present times  the Roman patritii , or the ancient noblemen did not know yet pornographic  video-tapes - not only as something „for their own pleasure", but as a  chance to make profitable business . It is , of course, nothing extraordinary, especially in a society, where the principle of economic success and  material profit decides about the whole system of social and human values,  making them relative, deformed , even denying them . For instance the high  level of organisation and commercialised drug trafficking, enterprising  with pornography and prostitution does not restrain even from innocent children-not only somewhere in Asia, or Belgium. It is evident, that implementing  positive spiritual and ethical ideals means to defend them against trampling  them down by pressures of market and profit as well as against competition  which does not refrain from anything. But at the same time not to have  these ideals become just an embellishment on the façade of contemporary  society.

To achieve success in these attempts  will be definitely not easy. But we have some background to back up these  efforts . In the revolutionary times and periods of crisis of the past, many scholars, reformers, revolutionaries, scientists and artists emerged, who were engaged in the struggle for great humanist and ethical ideals.One of the tasks of preference for humanists is to hand over the legacy  of those great personalities to contemporary people. It concerns especially  the rational and scientific concept of the universe and of our world ,  and with humanism inspired perception of the place and role of humans in  this world. This task of transferring the humanist legacy should be approached  by concrete ways, respectful of historical circumstances and performed  with  criticism..

For instance if we have adopted the  legacy of European Enlightenment ideas , we should be aware at the same  time of  their failings and stumbling blocks, their   one-sided  narrowed approach  to man , as well as some overestimated expectations , which gave origin  to further ideas , among others to varied social utopias. We would not  foster a real humanist aim , if we failed to build on real assessments  about man and humanity, about their real possibilities., but if our starting  point was just exaggerated theoretical suppositions and claims , or even  some  illusions. By the way, I presume that such a conflict between imaginations  and reality was at the roots of ever growing social contradictions of socialism  and finally of its political collapse at the end of the eighties.

As secular humanists we do not have  to our disposal just the historical legacy of great personalities. These  days-  there are among us many people cherishing humanist feelings , accepting  ethical values, feeling social and moral responsibility for man , and are  ready to be actively engaged in the spirit of that orientation. These people  many a time do not share entirely our life stance with all of its philosophical  foundations and their impact.. But there are some objective basic social  problems , hazards, and dangers in common , and those basic concerns of  people with diverse life stance call for seeking possibilities of co-operation  at solving important problems of the human life and the society. Thus,  I feel the contribution of prime importance for secular humanists would  be to become initiators and defendants of such a   co-operation with the  aim of reaching   the best results for the benefit of people , for humanisation of  our common life, and our unique - not divisible world.

I hold this opinion also as concerns  believing Christians , who are in our circumstances mostly those of a life stance discordant with  that of  ours. Between secular humanism in our understanding  of this notion,- and the Christianity there are basic philosophical differences, even contradictions. But it does not follows, that there is necessarily  a   bilaterally insuperable „ideological wall"   between humanists and Christians as human beings  Its not possible to deny the existence of divided  opinions , one can discuss them . But we do not compromise in questions  where ideological compromise is not possible., especially in those of key  starting points and conclusions of our adopted life stance .Finally, the  adherents to Christian life-stance behave in a similar way . We have to  take both as something quite natural and normal - on our part , in thespirit of the old and still valid principle to subordinate questions of  religion to basic problems of society, of man , and life, of the presence  and future .

In ideological confrontations we should  prove in practice, that a principled position does not exclude tolerance  against people with a different orientation, as far as we find a common  language in basic human problems . Let us not want to solve at once all  problems of philosophical confrontation -after all , it is not possible. Let as attempt to be a pattern of serious thinking and personal patience.  Let us show, that we can get rid of idea , that all ideological confrontations  have to end with „victory" of ones and „defeat" of the others. If necessary  let us be pragmatic : If one can save a young man from infection by AIDS,  or drug addiction due to religion - what is really more  important? Not every  believing Christian is inimical to secular humanism , the less those ones who  are  really concerned with well-being of man. The real enemy of secular humanism,  dangerous for man, is the moral and spiritual indifference, laxity , nihilism, cynicism.

If humanist efforts are to reach a  social impact , a real social force is needed , i.e. as many as possible  of actively engaged people. At that point again the idea of a dialogue  between secular humanists and those of divided opinion comes up, - especially  considering their high numbers.  those humanist- minded people in the ranks  of Christians. As a matter of course, it wants also taking into account  problematic sides of such a dialogue as experienced in the past , especially  in the sixties . Possibilities of a fruitful dialogue are prompted by the  currently proceeding contacts of Marxists and Christians in the neighbouring  united Germany . I think that we should take an interest in it, and investigate  the issue of possible applying such an approach in our conditions.

As a conclusion I want to point out  one more problem . In the Slovak community we are to face serious discrediting  of the notion of „atheism" and of persons belonging to its adherents. This  phenomenon ,- visible not only with believing Christians, but also with  people more indifferent concerning religion - has several reasons , such  as lack of true information and distorted image , many prejudices , etc..It is perhaps a consequence of errors and mishandling at propagating atheist  ideas in the former era of socialism. In the views of public the notion of secular  humanism should not be perceived as a replacement or a pseudonym for the  „old, well- known" atheists. Therefore one of first prerequisites of efficiency  in the attempts of secular humanism in this country I consider to present  a  real image and profile of the efforts of the humanists . Neither the best  principles nor any slogans are decisive , as far as they remain  only on paper. . The concrete manifestation of these ideas in life is decisive.  In the  cause of secular humanism, above all our personal example of a man who is well educated , civilised , wise , showing constructive attitudes and  decency. In this way one could overcome the persisting   prejudices , distorted  ideas of different- minded  people.. It can incite also interest in philosophical  and ethical principles of secular humanism, and in the everyday behaviour  of its adherents., which is the best propagation of secular humanism and  of its life- style in private and family life within our society.

 

  GO to TOP OF PAGE               HOME                 

GO TO ENGLISH CONTENTS  EnglFLAG.jpeg (1692 bytes)