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Hundreds of people commemorate priests and monks interned in Želiv in 1950s

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Zeliv, South Bohemia, Aug 14 (CTK) – Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka spoke about the 20th century history with regard to the church and mainly the persecution of priests during World War Two and under the former Communist regime at a Mass within the Reconciliation Pilgrimage in the Zeliv monastery church yesterday.
Several hundred people, who attended the service con-celebrated by Abbot Jachym Jaroslav Simek, remembered the 464 priests and monks who were interned in Zeliv in the 1950s after the Communists seized power in former Czechoslovakia in 1948.
Composer and creative artist Vladimir Franz played his own composition for the organ and inaugurated an exhibition of his watercolours.
Before the concert, Simek, together with Czech Radio director Rene Zavoral and other personalities, read the names of the priests interned in the monastery in 1950-56.
The internees in Zeliv included Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek and Archbishop Karel Otcenasek.
The Premonstratensians mark the years when the monastery was turned into a Communist jail for six years every year.
Simek said the modern history of the Zeliv monastery is a cogent remembrance of the Communist despotism that some recall with nostalgia.
“It is our responsibility not to forget about the sufferings of the priests behind these walls,” he said.
The first Reconciliation Pilgrimage was undertaken by Frantisek Tomasek, who later became Prague Archbishop and Cardinal, with his fellow prisoners on August 13, 1968, a mere eight days before former Czechoslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact troops which crushed the Prague Spring Communist-led reform movement.

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