“Slovak bishops would chase Christ away”

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German speaking monthly “Neue Pressburger Zeitung” comments the novel Code 1
Politics and society
“Slovak bishops would chase Christ away”
Christoph Thanei
In his newest book, the Slovak bestselling author Jozef Banáš tangles with the Roman Catholic Church leaders.

Since September 12th this year, when Jozef Banáš´s new novel Code 1 was published on the Slovak market, the book has become the topic of many heated discussions. The documentary novel Code 9, which was published three years before and sold almost 36,000 copies – an incredible number as for the Slovak market, already created a lot of waves in Slovak literature, as well as Slovak social and especially religious lives.

The author criticises without compromise the leading representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in Slovakia. He relegates the Conference of Bishops and its ideas to the Middle Ages and proclaims, similarly to Dostoyevsky in his Grand Inquisitor: “If Christ appeared in a meeting of the Slovak Conference of Bishops, they would chase him away, because his ideas would provoke the attendees.”

On the one hand, this is greatly supported by modern thinking Catholics, who still have not recovered from the shock caused by the unfounded revocation of Trnava´s archbishop Róbert Bezák, on the other hand, it provokes loud and even threatening reactions from the “owners of the truth”, as Banáš calls them. These are angered even by the image on the book cover, which shows a meditating Jesus instead of the more common picture of a crucified Christ.

The author defends himself very effectively. He publicly proclaims his willingness to withdraw the book from the market if any of the church representatives disproves only one of the arguments mentioned in the novel. And he says further: “We, Christians, have light in this beautiful human being – Jesus Christ. Theology, however, has chased him away to an imaginary Heaven, has made him a model of perfection, and thus Jesus has lost his motivating power for Christians. Neither do I understand why they force on us the absurd dogmas of deadly sins, the eternal Christian suffering – dogmas which continuously bring us, Christians, to our knees.”

According to Banáš “all of this bundles in the image of the crucified Christ, although he suffered only three hours on the cross, and most of his life was wonderful and full of joy. Why don´t they show us a happy Christ? I want to give Christ back to people, they need him badly! In the novel Code 1, I only cite the gospel. Thus, if Code 1 should be banned, the gospel would have to be banned as well.”

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