Thursday, 24 April 2014

MfD: Czech Orthodox Church split over money, archbishop

ČTK |
16 October 2013

Prague, Oct 15 (CTK) - The Czech Orthodox Church is deeply split over the money it will be given within the restitution scheme and the forthcoming election of its archbishop, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes Tuesday.

Some 38 million crowns will soon be sent to the account of the Czech Orthodox Church as the first part of the compensation for the property confiscated by the Communist regime, MfD writes.

However, it is not yet clear who will have access to the account to which further hundreds of million crowns will be sent from the total sum of 1.1 billion crowns the Orthodox Church is to receive under the law on return of property to churches and compensated for unreturned property, it adds.

Under the law on property settlement between the state and churches, which took effect on January 1, 2013, 16 churches are to get back some property confiscated from them by the communist regime that ruled in 1948-1989.

In the next 30 years, the churches will get real estate worth 75 billion crowns plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.

A struggle for power has been waged in the Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic for six months, MfD writes.

This Saturday, the new Orthodox archbishop of Prague will be elected. He will be in charge of the money, it adds.

In April, the previous Archbishop Krystof (Radim Pulec) was forced to step down over a scandal with alleged lovers, MfD writes.

The church war is acquiring international dimensions, it adds.

Krystof's acting successor, Olomouc and Brno Archbishop Simeon has invited envoys of the Constantinople patriarch Bartholomew to help resolve the infighting before the election, MfD writes,

However, Bartholomew stopped the mission at the last moment at the weekend, it adds.

"The reason is that one of the members of the Synod warned that the arrival of the bishops will harm the relations with Moscow," Simeon said.

Simeon said the dignitary was Michalovce and Kosice Archbishop Juraj (Jiri Stransky), 34, a serious contender for the post of Prague archbishop, MfD writes.

The post is also sought by Ernest Raptsun from Ukraine, nominated by representatives of the Russian church in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia.

Ratsun's wife accused Krystof of extra-marital sex, MfD writes.

Religion expert Ivan Stampach says a stronger focus on Constantinople and the request for its help when resolving the crisis may anger Moscow.

"It cannot be ruled out that Czech Russians and Ukrainians who make up the majority of members will move to the second local Orthodox organisation, the Podvorye of the Moscow Patriarch (embassy church), seated in Karlovy Vary," Stampach said.

In such a case, Russia would gain decisive influence on Czech Orthodox Christians, MfD writes.

The election struggle is very fierce, it adds.

An opponent of Stransky is disseminating photos corroborating the suspicion that Stransky's supporter Martin Marek Krupica grows marihuana near his house.

"Nonsense. These are tomatoes," Krupica said.

The police are now investigating Krystof over the suspicion of financial fraud, MfD writes.

The March 2011 census recorded some 27,000 Orthodox Christians in the largely atheist Czech Republic that has 10.5 million inhabitants.

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