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Czech cardinal welcomes compensation from government

By on Friday, 7 June 2013

Cardinal Duka was jailed for secretly joining the Dominican Order in 1965 (CNS)

Cardinal Duka was jailed for secretly joining the Dominican Order in 1965 (CNS)

A Czech cardinal has welcomed final court approval of government plans to pay billions of pounds to churches in compensation for their losses under Communist rule.

On June 3, the Constitutional Court cleared the way for the implementation of a 2012 law that says 56 per cent of assets, valued at $3.8 billion, (£2.4 billlion) will be returned to Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish communities, with $3 billion (£1.9 billion) paid out over a 30-year period as compensation for the rest of the properties. During that same period, annual government grants to churches will also be phased out.

Cardinal Dominik Duka of Prague said: “This ruling on the law for property settlements closes one of the infamous chapters in our history. Our society can congratulate itself (that) it has finally resolved this problem and remedied the damage done to churches under communism.”

In a statement, he said the “compromise solution” would benefit society, despite rival claims “that churches have given up too many assets which rightfully belong to them, and voices saying just the opposite.”

Cardinal Duka, who is president of the Czech bishops’ conference said: “The Constitutional Court has reached its decision with substantial factual arguments, not theatrical performances. Churches and religious communities will now be able to devote themselves to more substantial issues and to their true role of strengthening society’s spiritual dimension, defending human dignity and serving the needy.”

The fate of thousands of church lands and properties seized after the 1948 imposition of Communist rule has been a point of dispute in the Czech Republic since the 1989 Velvet Revolution.

The law was narrowly adopted in November but was challenged by some members of Parliament, who appealed to the Constitutional Court.

In its ruling, the court rejected legal and procedural complaints and “general historical objections” and said claims that “church property was subject to the public domain” were incorrect.

It added that the law’s compensation levels “took into account the current political and public interest” and were “fully legitimate” in the context of church-state separation.

Cardinal Duka, who was stripped of his priest’s license and jailed after secretly joining the banned Dominican order in 1965, urged Czechs to “consign this problem to the past.”

“Let’s now get together to build hospices for the old and dying, develop our charitable work and set up schools,” he said.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    The Church having too much worldly wealth will only lose much more precious things.

    Just listen to Jesus speaking about ‘Money’.

    Priest and nuns will end up counting money all their lives. And ‘Vocations’ will be plenty because of getting hold of money in different capacities will be the aim in practice.

    Let people (and not Priests, Religious) handle money. The Vocations will be more authentic.

  • Mirabilis2000

    In the meantime, in Ireland, land and property is being sent the opposite way, from Church to state. Communism dies in one region but prospers in another.

  • Jackson

    I lived in Prague for 3 months and its about time the beautiful churches and monasteries were restored. I was so overwhelmed by their beauty that I returned to the church after many years lapsed from the 60′s hippie American Catholic church. There were some churches such as Saint Nicholas Cathedral stolen by the government that should be returned as its not about money but about having the physical structures necessary to inspire and educate people.

  • Tom_mcewen

    What are you talking about, I go to Sv Tomas in malostrantske namesti and we run an ophanage, a grammar school, a boy’s school in africa, a program for the poor, what you think we have extra money for priest and religious sisters to go holiday. I worry about the religious sisters at Sv Josef they are too poor. Too much worldly wealth what are you talking about the things the church has been given out of the peoples love for the church, i paint religious paintings for the love i feel for the church, the church is God’s it is not man’s we had the atheists here and what they produced was ugly, because their was no God in it, Beauty comes from God, the palace of culture is ugly, the worker’s housing is ugly the statues in the park are ugly, because atheists have darkness in their soul. we did not have the church and now what? The priest live in cells in community, eat simple meals and work very very hard. I don’t think money is their thing. The pope is a simple man,

  • Angela

    Finally; not one day too soon! Communism has caused humanity the worst disasters in human history, especially in the staggering numbers of people murdered, in Europe, Russia, China Mexico, Cuba, Spain etc etc. As well as the innumerable churches and monasteries being destroyed and robbed from the church.
    It never ceases to bother me how little catholics, in general, speak ot these communist terrors, still going on in many parts of the world.
    It seems more fun, to catholics and others, to embrace same sex “marriage”, women priests and the abolition of the celibacy, than caring for the millions and millions of victims all over the world.