Velehrad, South Moravia, July 7 (CTK) – The Czech Catholic Church wants to launch long-term cooperation with municipalities through the Association of towns and villages and the Union of local self-governments, Cardinal Dominik Duka told journalists after a meeting of the Czech Bishops’ Conference on Friday.

Church representatives plan to sign memorandums with municipalities in order to get the church more involved in community affairs, Duka said.

He said the church would like to discuss changes in the surroundings of churches and cemeteries and leases of land as well as church charity organisations, which are becoming part of the network of social services.

A new type of cooperation between the church and municipalities needs to be launched since the process of returning real estate within the state-church property settlement is getting close to its end, Duka said.

“It is a chance for a dialogue, mutual assistance and joint projects because churches are naturally visible symbols,” he said.

Czech Bishops’ Conference secretary Stanislav Pribyl said cooperation is also to concern the development of civic society and community life.

Pribyl said it often happens that people related to the local church are the only group representing live culture in a village.

The two-day meeting of the Czech Bishops’ Conference in Velehrad agreed to deepen Czech church aid provided in Ukraine. Czech bishops also supported the call for the release of imprisoned Chinese Underground Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin and they appreciated the effort by Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, to improve the situation of Christians in China.