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Duka to keep post of Prague archbishop despite turning 75

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Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Pope Francis has asked Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka to continue in the post in reaction to Duka’s letter in which he offered resignation over his age of 75, according to a letter from the Apostolic Nunciature the Prague archbishopric published on its webpage on Wednesday.

When Duka turned 75, on April 26, he sent a letter of resignation to the Pope, which must be done by all bishops when they reach this age.

“Empowered by the Congregation for Bishops, I have the honour of notifying you that the Holy Father has accepted your resignation from the post of Prague archbishop. He calls on you to continue in the office ‘donec aliter provideatur’ (until further provision is made),” the letter said.

Stanislav Pribyl, the general secretary of the Czech Bishops Conference, has tweeted that he is looking forward to further cooperation.

Duka is sometimes criticised by the younger church-goers for being too supportive of some politicians. He was close to former President Vaclav Klaus and he is known to have good relations with President Milos Zeman, whom he congratulated on his re-election in January.

In response to protests of some Christian activists in March calling in a petition on the Pope to appoint someone else instead of Duka, President Zeman wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to prolong Duka’s mandate.

The activists were critical of what they called Duka’s leaning towards nationalism and the ultra right.

Unfortunately, we expected Duka’s mandate to be prolonged,” one of the protesters, Jan Bierhanzl, told CTK on Wednesday.

“The prolongation does not express the Pope’s respect for Duka’s work, let alone the Pope’s nodding to Duka’s nationalism and far-from Christian approach to migration, but it is rather a consequence of the Pope’s promotion of decentralised Church, Bierhanzl said on behalf of Duka’s opponents.

He said Duka, with his nationalist and ultra-conservative tendencies corresponds to the moods of the streams that prevail in the Czech Catholic Church now.

“From this point of view, he is probably a suitable candidate for its [Czech Catholic Church’s] head. To the Christians who seek emancipation of all and oppose the local church hierarchy, this means that their struggle goes on. Our activities do not end,” Bierhanzl added.

Several Czech politicians and the Confederation of Political Prisoners backed Duka.

In a letter to the Pope in March, Zeman praised Duka’s activities and said Duka contributed to removing barriers between the Church and the state.

“In the Czech Republic, his Eminence Dominik Cardinal Duka is a highly respected representative of the Catholic Church and it is largely his contribution that we have succeeded in gradually removing barriers that existed between the Church and the state for many years,” Zeman wrote.

In April, another petition, in support of Duka, with 3,000 signatures, was handed to him after the mass he served in the St Vitus Cathedral on the occasion of the repatriation of the remains of Cardinal Josef Beran (1888-1969), former Prague archbishop and political prisoner, whose body returned to the country from the Vatican almost 50 years after his death.

Bishops often work even after turning 75.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XIV prolonged the mandate to Duka’s predecessor Cardinal Miloslav Vlk by two years.

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