Czech Republic: Restitution of church property

Source: FSSPX News

On June 3, 2013, the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic  passed a law to restitute church property: 56% of goods and properties expropriated under the Communist regime are to be returned to the Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish communities, to the approximate tune of three billion euros. About 2.35 billion of this amount will be repaid over a period of 30 years in compensation for goods that cannot be returned. During this time the annual governmental subsidies will  not be paid to these communities.

On June 3, Pavel Rychetsky, president of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, announced that the bill had been rejected by 18 members of the Senate from the Social Democrats, the Communists, and Public Affairs. After a long legislative battle, the legal arguments offered by its opponents did not suffice to block the law. Miroslav Kalousek, Finance Minister, who was very involved in preparing the legislation, said, “We were sure that nothing in this law was anti-constitutional. Not one legal objection held water. We are finally the last of former Soviet countries to put this international disgrace behind us and get along with our churches.”

Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague and president of the Czech bishops’ conference, added that “passing the law for the restitution of property finally turns the page on one of the most infamous chapters in our history. Our society can congratulate itself on finally resolving this issue and making reparation for the damage caused to religious institutions under Communism.”  Religious communities will from now on be able to dedicate themselves to their true task of developing the spiritual dimension of society, caring for the elderly and the dying, and building schools, the cardinal said. (Sources: kipa-apic—radiocz—CNS—DICI no. 277, 21/06/13)