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Personalities sign Czech-initiated open letter in support of Pope

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Prague, Oct 17 (CTK) – Several dozens of personalities from 13 countries have signed and hundreds of people have supported an open letter Czech theologian and Charles University Professor Tomas Halik initiated in support of Pope Francis and his positions on marriage.

The letter reacts to the criticism of the Pope by conservative Catholics, who accused him of spreading heresy.

Its signatories, including theologians, bishops and public life protagonists, have expressed their gratitude to the Pope for his bold and theologically responsible style of papacy, Halik has told CTK.

“I believe that Pope Francis’s pontificate is one of a number of great reforms in the history of Christianity,” he said.

Halik said the open letter was to encourage the formation of an international community of theologians that would be thoroughly considering “the very necessary reform for Christianity of the third millennium.”

A future church council needs intellectual and spiritual preparation, same as the reforms of the 16th century Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s were preceded by new movements in theology, Halik said.

He said he helped set up teams of theologians and sociologists from several countries who are working on this.

In August, a group of Roman Catholics called on the Pope to revoke the positions he presented in the Amoris Laetitia document on the family last year, such as his accommodating approach to the divorced believers who concluded a new, civil marriage.

The critics say the document caused a proliferation of heretic views across the Roman Catholic Church.

They also criticise what they call Pope Francis’s unprecedented sympathy for “arch-heretic” Martin Luther, who initiated the church reformation process in Europe 500 years ago.

The Pope’s critics include two Czechs, Petr Dvorak from the Science Academy’s Philosophical Institute, and Lukas Novak, from Charles University’s Faculty of Arts.

While Halik, together with the Czech Plzen Bishop Tomas Holub, stood up in the Pope’s defence shortly after the Amoris Laetitia appeared, also opposing a previous critical letter addressed to the Pope by four cardinals, top Czech Catholic dignitaries remain cautious in their comments.

The signatories of the open letter include Bishop Vaclav Maly and several other representatives of the Czech church and academics, bishops from Austria, Hungary, South Africa and also Marie-Jo Thiel, president of the European association for Catholic theology.

The letter says the pope has succeeded in restoring the Christian ministry culture in the Roman Catholic Church based on its roots relating to Jesus, and cares for hurt people and hurt nature.

The last word in treating people should be a merciful, not a legalistic interpretation of the Testament, the authors write, adding that they share the Pope’s view of the church as a mother and shepherd.

They ask him not to allow allow himself to be diverted from his path and voice their support for him.

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