Prague, March 1 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman sent a letter to Pope Francis praising the impact Cardinal Dominik Duka has had on removing barriers between the state and the church, whose copy CTK has received from Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek.
A few days ago, Zeman said on TV Barrandov he wanted to ask the Pope to prolong Duka’s mandate, responding to a letter by several Czech Catholic activists who criticised Duka and asked the Pope not to prolong his mandate.
The activists criticised Duka for allegedly supporting nationalism and the extreme right, such as when he refused solidarity with refugees at the St Wenceslas procession in September 2017 or in a letter of congratulations to the populist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura.
Zeman, on the other hand, said Duka was an highly respectable member of the Catholic church in the Czech Republic, who was helping to break the barriers between the state and church which have existed for years in the country.
He remembered Duka’s involvement in fighting the Communist regime before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, owing to which he was persecuted and imprisoned alongside other dissidents.
He said Duka was spreading values which were being linked to morally firm and honest people in the Czech society.
Duka will reach 75 at the end of April, the age when all Catholic bishops are obliged to resign. The Pope may prolong their mandates though.
The Pope Benedict XVI previously did not accept the resignation of Duka’s predecessor, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, whose mandate was prolonged by two years in 2007.