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Church in Slovakia issues landmark abuse report

The Catholic Church in Slovakia said Tuesday that it had received 68 abuse complaints since 1990, as it released its first comprehensive safeguarding report.

St. Martin's Cathedral, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bratislava, in Bratislava, Slovakia. Shuying via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The 35-page report by the Slovak bishops’ commission for the protection of minors in the Church said that 39 of the 68 complaints had been confirmed and the cases closed.

Of the remaining 29 cases, 17 remained open, 7 were deemed “unresolvable,” and 5 were unconfirmed and the cases closed.

Fifty of the cases were lodged in Slovakia’s Latin Rite dioceses, while 3 were from the country’s Greek Catholic eparchies (dioceses) and 15 were from religious orders.

The highest number of annual cases was in 2019, when 16 complaints were recorded. There were 8 complaints in 2022 and 6 in 2023.


Slovakia, a country bordered by Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic, became an independent state in 1993, following the dissolution of communist Czechoslovakia.

Slovakia’s 2021 census found that 3.04 million people identified as Latin Catholics, down from 3.347 million in 2011, and 218,235 as Greek Catholics, up from 206,871 10 years earlier.

Pope Francis made a four-day visit to the country in September 2021.

The Church’s “Evaluation Report 2018-2023” said that the true number of cases since 1990 was likely higher, because there were victims who had not yet reported the abuse. 

“It should also be noted that the number of victims is greater than the number of completed confirmed cases,” it said. 

“From the data collected, more than 44 victims are registered in the 39 closed confirmed cases. In most of the cases, one victim was registered. In three cases two, in one case three. In two cases, the number is unidentified as it was inappropriate behavior toward a group of minors.”

The report continued: “Certainly not all cases have been handled in the Church in a completely error-free manner — either because the normative framework we have today was not in place in the past, or because the human factor failed.” 

“If this has happened, we regret that it has caused further suffering and traumatization for the victims. Through transparency in the Church in Slovakia, we want to encourage others who have been hurt in this way and are still considering whether to take their case to the Church to do so.”

Commenting on the report, Archbishop Bernard Bober, the president of Slovakia’s bishops’ conference, said: “Much has already been done in the Catholic Church in the area of prevention in the protection of minors, but we know very well that it is still very little.” 

“We know that there is no atoning for the wrongs that have been done, but we desire to alleviate the heavy burden of those who have been abused. Allow me, therefore, on behalf of the bishops, to express our compassion and closeness to all those who have been wronged in the Church.”

“We have embarked on a journey of transparency and truthfulness on this issue, as Pope Francis has asked us to do. Therefore, we have decided to present to the public for the first time the evaluation report of the bishop’s conference’s commission for the protection of minors in the Church.” 

The Archbishop of Košice added: “It also presents statistics on cases of sexual abuse by clergy, consecrated persons, and lay persons holding some office or ministry in the Church, for the period from 1990 to the present. It burdens and troubles us. But if we want to move forward, we must look truthfully in the mirror.”

“Only those cases that have come to our attention through reporting are included in the totals, but we are aware that the number of victims is certainly much higher.”

“We therefore humbly acknowledge that, particularly in the past, we have not always taken a proactive stance in dealing with sexual abuse offenses. We sincerely regret this and apologize for our own unpreparedness, negligence, lack of interest or acceptance, which as bishops we may have been guilty of in certain situations.”

Slovakia’s bishops established a body known as the special commission in 2018 to oversee the Church’s response to abuse allegations. In 2021, it was renamed the commission for the protection of minors in the Church.

The commission’s purpose is “to monitor the situation in the Slovak Church with regard to the issue of sexual abuse; to ensure that individual cases brought before diocesan tribunals are properly investigated; and to initiate various activities of a preventive nature.”

Slovakia’s bishops “took note” of the commission’s report at their March 4-5 plenary assembly at a Discalced Carmelite monastery in Lorinčík, a borough of Košice, a city in eastern Slovakia.

At the meeting, the bishops also approved the opening of the beatification cause of Štefan Iglódy, who was martyred in 1639, at the age of 18.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is currently drafting its first annual report on the Church’s global efforts to safeguard minors and vulnerable adults. The report is expected to be made public by the summer of 2024.

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