Prague, Jan 7 (CTK) – The body of late Cardinal Josef Beran, who is the only Czech buried in the Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, may be moved to the Czech Republic since it recently turned out that he wished to be buried in his homeland, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Saturday.
Beran (1888-1969) died in Rome after the Czechoslovak communist regime forced him into exile.
Within the ongoing process of his beatification, Beran’s estate was transported to the Czech Republic. Historian Stanislava Vodickova revealed the testament that Beran wrote in August 1968 in Stuttgart, Germany, after he was operated on because of cancer, the paper writes.
Beran writes in his testament that he would like to be buried in the tomb of Prague archbishops in Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague, or, if this is not possible, in the grave of his parents in Plzen, west Bohemia.
Historian Jaroslav Sebek, who is a member of the history commission of the Prague Archbishopric, said the last wish of Beran should be fulfilled.
Czech Roman Catholic dignitaries have not reached agreement on the issue, however.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said he believes that Beran’s remains should be buried in the Prague Cathedral as he wished.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka takes a reserved stance on the idea. He said those who are against the transport of the remains seem to prevail in the Catholic Church.
“The privilege that Cardinal Beran had when he was buried next to popes in the vaults of St Peter is a symbol of the history of the Czech church in the 20th century,” Duka said.
“Let us hope that a compromise solution can be found,” he added.
It is possible to move the remains to Prague and preserve the cardinal’s tomb in the Vatican, Sebek told LN.
The body could be moved to Prague and the original grave could stay in Rome with Beran’s heart being kept in it, or the heart could be moved to Prague and the rest of the body remain in Rome, he said.
Sebek said it will take some time to arrive at a solution.
He said Pope Francis has been interested in Beran’s life story.
“This seems to be caused by the fact that the Pope also experienced a tough dictatorship in his native Argentina. This is why he sympathises with Cardinal Beran who went through the Terezin and Dachau concentration camps during World War Two and who was in a communist prison,” Sebek said.
For Beran to be buried in Prague, the Prague diocese and the Czech Foreign Ministry would have to apply for it and receive the Vatican’s consent. Moreover, Beran’s family would have to agree with it, the paper writes.
Beran was Prague archbishop and Czech Catholic primate in 1946-1969. He was persecuted by the Nazi and communist regimes and he spent the last years of his life in exile in Rome.
Beran became Prague archbishop in 1946 after he returned home from the concentration camp in Dachau. After the Czechoslovak communist coup in 1948, he refused to bow to the new regime. In 1949, he was detained by the secret police and held in the Prague Archbishop’s Palace for two years.
In 1965, Beran was appointed cardinal, but the communist regime forced him to leave Czechoslovakia. While in Rome, Beran joined the activities of the Second Vatican Council. He died in Rome in 1969 and following a wish of Pope Paul VI he was interred in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in which almost exclusively popes are buried.