Slovak Church seeks answers on WWII and communist era role

Slovak bishops have established a council to "search for a correct answer" regarding the Church's role during the period covering World War II and the communist era.

The International Herald Tribune reports that Marian Chovanec, head of the Slovak Bishops' Conference, said at the end of a two-day meeting held in Presov that the council will help to clarify the church's history "that has been intentionally misinterpreted here ... under the influence of communist ideology."

In comments posted on the Bishops' Conference website on Wednesday, Chovanec said the church must "adopt a standpoint on some periods in our history."

Speaking about the country's wartime rule by pro-Nazi priest Jozef Tiso, he said that the council will "search for a correct answer to questions about positive and negative aspects of this period."

Last month, Slovakia's Archbishop Jan Sokol came under strong criticism for describing Tiso's rule as a time of well-being. Some 70,000 Slovak Jews and thousands of Gypsies were deported from Slovakia during World War II, most of them perishing in Nazi concentration camps.

Meanwhile, the Slovak Spectator reports that the Holy See nuncio to Slovakia, Henrik Nowacki, has refused to comment on new information that Slovak Archbishop Sokol collaborated with the Slovak StB communist secret service.

New documents discovered in Czech Interior Ministry archives suggest that in the 1980s Sokol gave the StB information on official Church matters, on the status of Cardinal Jan Korec, as well as a Slovak emigrant that Sokol met during a trip to Italy, the Sme daily wrote.

Slovakia's bishops have also refused to comment, saying that Sokol himself should explain the new information.

Slovak Catholic Church to review its history (International Herald Tribune, 15/2/07)
Vatican silent on case of Slovak archbishop (Slovak Spectator, 15/2/07)

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Slovak Bishops Conference

16 Feb 2007