(Prometheus Society of Slovakia)
A strange action in court, at which the court overruled the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in favour of the Canon law.
A Citizen of Košice township, Michal Holováč filed at the court of justice his case against the Greek-Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, for refusing him to erase the registration of his baptism in the Registry. The court rejected the complaint on the grounds of the defendant’s claim, that baptism is an indelible act, which is a ruling of the Canon 849 of the Canon Law having no equivalent in Slovak legal system.
The odyssey of the compliant is itself a remarkable story not paralleled anywhere else.
It started on July 7, 2003 when he submitted to the Greek-Catholic bishopric an application for “excommunication from the Church.” He was interviewed for long and received the answer, that he must address the Apostolic Exarchate in Košice - with an additional excuse that the Greek-Catholic Church in the year of his birth 1956 was non-existent, as it was in the former Republic abolished.[Its members were taken as Orthodox Catholics.]
On July 21, 2003 he submitted his application according to that advice to the Greek-Catholic Exarchate in Košice. He received the answer on September 5, 2003 saying he was a member of the Orthodox Catholic Church, therefore he must address that Church.
On November 18, 2003 he changed his demand of being excommunicated - as he learned that excommunication is initiated by Church authorities, not by followers - and asked for annulling the validity of baptism and to record it in the Registry of baptised. The answer came in on November 18, 2003 - saying that the Eparchy of Orthodox Church in Prešov has no Registry containing note of his baptism, and they recommended to address the spiritual administrator in the village, where he had been baptised.
On December 15, 2003 he travelled to that village (Vyšný Orlik), but the local priest refused to take over his application - therefore he had to send it by registered mail. He received the answer on February 18, 2004 saying that his name was in the Registry of baptised, but the administrator was not competent to accomplish what his petition asked for.
On September 20, 2004 he filed on the district court of justice in Košice II his cause asking for his “right to change his affiliation to Church” [The Constitution of Slovakia states in its Art. 24 (1).. this right comprises the option to change the religious creed or belief. Everyone has the right to be without a religious creed.]
One could thing that the last step would soon help solving the problem of renouncing the Church affiliation of a citizen - which is his right safeguarded by the Slovak Constitution. Quite the opposite happened: The litigation became ever more entangled.
By the verdict of January 13, 2005 the court suspended the cause with the intention to shift it to the Apostolic Exarchate of the Greek-Catholic Church, despite the fact that this body has already refused to solve the issue.
The appeal of the petitioner submitted to the County court resulted in returning the issue to the District court on May 5, 2005.
The first proceeding (originally set for November 3, 2005) was postponed to January 31, 2006). The second change followed soon, proceeding was set up for January 24, 2006.
The session of January 24, 2006 took place, but was again postponed for an undefined term and the advocate of the proponent was asked to propose an EXPERT and to formulate his questions for him. The questions were formulated and sent to the court, despite it NO EXPERTISE WAS ACCOMPLISHED.
On November 27, 2007 three officials of the Churches were finally summoned and interrogated. The verdict postponed the next dealings to January 29, 2008.
On January 29, 2008 (after three years of delay) the verdict of the district court of Košice II rejected the petition as “non substantiated”.
Michal Holováč stresses, that his cause was not unique, because he has got information about three similar concrete cases in which the citizens were NOT ALLOWED to change their religious affiliation according their own option.
The curiosity of this cause consist in the fact, that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its Art 18 claims:
2. No one shall be subject to coercion, which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Thus the court made the Canon law superior to the INTERNATIONAL PACT, overruling it by Can 849 of the Canon law, which says that baptism is an indelible sign of affiliation to Church
All the mentioned cases prove, that instead of keeping strictly to the law in force, Slovak institutions use every kind of subterfuge to avoid it and to satisfy the Churches which became in Slovakia almighty institutions.