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Zeman not to attend Cardinal Vlk’s funeral, will send wreath

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Prague, March 20 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman will not attend the funeral of former Prague Archbishop Miloslav Vlk and he will send a wreath instead, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has said, adding that Zeman is no hypocrite and the sending of a wreath is a sufficient expression of respect.

Cardinal Vlk, who headed the Czech Catholic Church for almost 20 years 1991-2010, criticised Zeman several times in the past.

Vlk died of a serious disease on Saturday at the age of 84. His funeral will be held in the St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle on Saturday morning.

“The president is no hypocrite like some politicians who are issuing sad statements, while they organised billboard campaigns against the church quite recently,” Ovcacek told CTK in reply to a question of whether Zeman will attend the funeral.

He was probably hinting at the Social Democrats (CSSD) who criticised property settlement between the state and church and demanded its revision with billboards in the past.

Vlk criticised Zeman most recently last autumn when Zeman decided not to award former Oswiecim (Auschwitz) prisoner Jiri Brady, a relative of Culture Minister Daniel Herman.

Vlk called for a boycott of the Prague Castle ceremony on the October 28 national holiday.

He also said people should better choose candidates for the president.

Zeman is the first president to have been elected in a direct election in 2013.

Vlk also sharply criticised the agreement between Prague Castle, the presidential seat, and the Catholic Church on property settlement. He said it is illegal and anti-constitutional.

Regret at Vlk’s death was expressed by a number of politicians, representatives of church life and other personalities.

They praised his contribution to the post-communist renewal of the Catholic Church. They praised his courage during the communist regime when he said Masses in secret and earned his living as a window cleaner.

Zeman only said through his spokesman on Saturday that “a man of deep faith and firm, uncompromising views has passed away.”

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