Pope Francis this month publicly acknowledged the scandal of priests and bishops sexually abusing nuns and has vowed to do more to fight the problem. The issue came to the fore amid the Catholic Church’s overall reckoning with the sexual abuse of minors. Here in the Czech Republic, Cardinal Dominik Duka – who in the past has characterized such scandals as attacks on the church – has now agreed under pressure to meet some of the victims face to face.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church has hit back at a Communist Party bill aimed at taxing compensation paid to churches for property seized under the previous regime. Cardinal Dominik Duka has described the Communists’ move as a “black comedy” and says a Senate vote on the matter will determine how faith groups proceed.
The Roman Catholic Church will wait for a Senate decision on taxing
compensation paid out to churches in restitution before making a decision
on how to proceed, Cardinal Dominik Duka said after a meeting of the Czech
Bishops’ Conference. The head of the Catholic Church in the Czech
Republic said it would coordinate its response with other churches and the
Federation of Jewish Communities.
The Chamber of Deputies last week approved a Communist Party proposal to tax the compensation received by churches in lieu of properties seized under the previous regime.
Cardinal Duka described the vote as a black comedy directed by the Communists, adding that compensation was never taxed. The Senate is regarded as likely to reject the bill.
Prague Bishop Václav Malý has sent an open letter to the speakers of the
lower house of Parliament and the Senate to protest against an amendment
taxing church restitutions approved by the lower chamber last week. Bishop
Malý says in the letter that the minority government is paying the price
for Communist Party support, and argues that the bill demonstrates the
growing arrogance and unscrupulous practices of those in power.
The amendment, which was approved in the lower house last Wednesday, would tax the roughly 59 billion crowns which the state is paying out in phases as compensation for property which the state cannot return.
Money from church restitution taxes could be used to fund repairs of
cultural monuments, President Miloš Zeman said in a televised interview on
Thursday. He said he would propose this to Minister of Culture Antonín
Staněk (Social Democrats).
Czech MPs on Wednesday approved a tax on the billions in annual payments the state is making to the country’s 16 churches and a Jewish organisation to compensate for assets seized by the Communist regime.
Critics say the tax – proposed by the Communists and supported by the minority ANO-Social Democrat government – is unconstitutional.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Zeman, the state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to the religious groups under bilateral agreements.
The Catholic Church, the largest single denomination with over 1 million followers, is slated to receive about 80 percent of the compensation package.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial
Communist proposal to tax churches on monies they receive in line with a
property restitution law enacted in 2012. The proposal will now go to the
Senate for further debate.
Opponents of the proposal argue that it is unjust to tax money paid in to the churches in compensation for properties confiscated by the Communist regime. They argue it is akin to punishing the victim of a theft and also unconstitutional, as in their view it violates earlier treaties.
The coalition government comprised of the ANO and Social Democrat parties backed the proposal by the Communists, who had threated to withdraw their tolerance of the minority government if they had rejected it.
According to the Communists, the state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to 16 churches under bilateral agreements.
In total, the churches should receive 75 billion crowns worth of land and property confiscated by the Communist regime and get 59 billion crowns worth of compensation money for the rest, to be paid out over a 30-year period.
The Communist-era dissident Milan Balabán has died at the age of 89. A
theologian, Evangelical pastor and poet, he was considered one of the Czech
Republic’s leading religious thinkers.
In the 1950s Balabán – who was born in what is today Ukraine – joined a group of Evangelical theologians named Nová orientace (New Orientation), which pushed for reforms in Czechoslovakia. He later signed the Charter 77 protest document.
He lost his license to serve as a cleric in the mid-1970s and was forced to do manual labour, including working for the operators of the Prague sewer system.
Christians around the world are celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. But what would it look like if Jesus was born today, in the 21st century, in the Czech town of Beroun? This paraphrase of the birth of Jesus and other Biblical stories retold and reimagined can be found in a newly published book called Parabible. Its author is Alexandr Flek, a publisher, theologian and the chief translator of the modern Czech Bible version, Bible 21.
For centuries, Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, a symbol of Czech statehood, lacked a suitable pipe organ whose sound would fill its monumental space. Now, nearly 700 years after construction began, the cathedral is set to get a huge new organ. More than 74 million crowns have already been raised in a public collection to build the instrument.
Underwater remains of Prague’s first bridge explored by researchers
Why is it so hard to remove a Czech president?
The 1946 US operation that proved a propaganda coup for Czechoslovakia’s Communists
Huawei threatens court case if Czech agency does not withdraw warning
Major renovation planned for Prague’s Masaryk train station