President Václav Klaus says he regrets the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to step down. In a statement, the Czech head of state said he and the pontiff had been close in their outlooks and that the latter had, unlike others, not ridden the cheap bandwagon of “progressivism”. Mr. Klaus said Pope Benedict had been aware of the dangers arising from the loss of traditional values and the breakup of institutions such as the family and the nation state, as well as headlong European integration.
The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down has surprised the world. Here in the Czech Republic, church leaders have praised his courage and recalled his visit to the country in 2009. However, Pope Benedict’s retirement for health reasons raises questions over whether his successor will attend a huge Catholic celebration in Velehrad planned for later this year.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka has praised Pope Benedict’s leadership of the Catholic Church saying his decision to resign was an act of courage. Cardinal Duka recalled the Pope’s state visit to the Czech Republic in 2009 and its role in raising awareness and understanding of the role of the church in modern society. He called on believers to pray for the Pope’s health. The Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner said the Pope’s resignation was a sign of respect for the office he held and showed great spiritual strength and humility.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas held a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican on Friday. The visit was meant to mark the start of one year until the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius in Great Moravia. Mr Nečas offered the pontiff a rare copy of the illustrated Strahov Evangeliary from the 9th century. The Pope in turn gave the prime minister a pen. Earlier in the day Mr Nečas laid flowers at the tomb of Czech Cardinal Josef Beran, who died in exile in Rome in 1969 and paid homage to Czech patron Saint Wenceslas at his altar in St Peter´s Basilica. Celebrations for Cyril and Methodius include dozens of events culminating in July 2013 at the Velehrad pilgrimage site in South Moravia. Benedict XVI has been invited to attend the celebrations, but his visit has not been confirmed as yet.
Pope Benedict XVI has issued a decree approving the beautification of 14 Franciscan monks who were murdered in Prague in the 17th century, the Prague Archbishopric said on its website on Saturday. The monks should be included in the list of the beautified on October 13, 2012, in the St Vitus Cathedral. The monks were murdered in February 1611 at the Church of Our Lady of the Snow in Prague over their efforts to bring the largely protestant Prague inhabitants back to the Catholic faith.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka was elevated to cardinal at a ceremony in
St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Saturday morning. The Prague archbishop
is one of 22 new cardinals that Pope Benedict XVI created in the ceremony.
Hundreds of Czech pilgrims were in attendance. Dominik Duka was presented
with a scarlet biretta and a gold ring, the traditional symbols of the
title. As a cardinal, Dominik Duka will be among those clerics authorized
to elect a new pope.
On Saturday afternoon, the Prague archbishop led mass for Czech Catholics at Rome’s Church of Saint Gregory VII. The head of Czech diplomacy, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, was in attendance. On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating a special mass with the 22 newly named cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop Duka is the 11th Prague archbishop to be named cardinal.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka is among 22 archbishops elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict on Friday. The pope announced their appointment following an Epiphany Mass in the Vatican and will elevate them to their new rank in a formal ceremony on February 18. The sixty-eight year old Dominik Duka is the country’s second living cardinal alongside Miloslav Vlk. The head of the Czech Catholic Church will thus join the conclave that will one day help elect the Pope’s successor.
President Václav Klaus will offer an official invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Czech Republic on the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius in 2013. Many in the Catholic Church have hoped for an official invitation since the pontiff’s last visit to the Czech Republic in September of 2009. On that occasion he was accompanied throughout his weekend visit by President Klaus. The president had what he called a warm meeting with members of the Czech Bishop’s Conference on Tuesday, after which he also said that he saw no problems with the property settlement proposal being ironed out between the government and the church.
Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday appointed Jan Vokál the new bishop of the Hradec Králové diocese which has been vacant since Dominik Duka last year became the Archbishop of Prague. Jan Vokál, a native of Hlinsko in eastern Bohemia, left Czechoslovakia in 1983, and became a priest five years later. Over the past two decades he worked at Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Czech TV reported Jan Vokál was the second choice for the position as another candidate turned the offer down.