Sunday, 24 March 2019

Prague archbishop rejects taxation of property returned to church

ČTK |
9 July 2018

Velehrad, South Moravia, July 7 (CTK) - The Communists' demands that the property returned to churches confiscated from them by the Communist regime should be taxed are scandalous, Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka told journalists on Saturday.

If the property is taxed, the churches will defend themselves in court, Duka said.

On Wednesday, a vote of confidence will be held in the Chamber of Deputies. The Communists have said they will support the minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis' ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD), but the taxation of the church property was one of their conditions for their position.

Both Babis and Social Democrat leader Jan Hamacek agree with the taxation.

"I believe in the public opinion and the conscience of lawmakers and our judiciary," Duka said.

According to the restitution law from 2012, churches are returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the communists, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state gradually ceases to finance the churches.

The payments end in 2030 when the separation of churches from the state will be finished. Last year, the state paid roughly 1.3 billion crowns for the priests' salaries. The sum falls by 5 percent every year.

"I do not believe that our judiciary could take such a step. Communist ideology is one thing, the Communist party another. There must be the people with the sense of honour and justice even in the Communist party," Duka said.

In February, the Chamber of Deputies approved the proposal to tax the financial compensations for churches in the first reading. The Communist-sponsored bill was supported by the deputies for ANO, the CSSD and the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

The Communists say that the state could gain roughly 380 million crowns out of the roughly two billion crowns it sends to the churches annually.

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