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Cardinal Duka: Church focused on itself in property restitution

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Polna, South Bohemia, April 29 (CTK) – The Czech Catholic Church made a mistake by focusing only on itself during the property restitution and not defending the rights of farmers and traders from whom the Communist regime had taken all property as well, Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka said in Polna on Sunday.

Duka celebrated mass in the local church and also his 75th birthday on Sunday.

After the mass, he had a meeting with the public and discussed the state-church property settlement and other issues.

According to the restitution law from 2012, Czech churches are returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the Communist authorities, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state gradually ceases financing churches.

The Communist Party (KSCM) wants to impose taxation on the financial compensation to churches. Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) showed readiness to support the bill as his government is seeking support from the KSCM. Duka said previously the taxation was impossible from the legal viewpoint.

When speaking of support for the traditional family, Duka said on Sunday he appreciated the rejection of homosexual marriage by Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) lawmakers. He said he was no supporter of SPD leader Tomio Okamura but one had to seek support from any possible ally in parliament in such issues.

The SPD is a right-wing populist movement rejecting immigrants, Islam and the European Union. It was the fourth most popular party in the country, the elections held last year showed.

Ten years ago, Polna made Duka its honorary citizen. Polna Mayor Jindrich Skocdopole said Duka considerably helped the town prepare the reconstruction of its church and have the church declared a part of the national cultural heritage.

Duka has been Prague Archbishop for eight years. In 2012 he was named a cardinal. In the 2000s and early 2010s, he developed a reputation of the best diplomat among Czech bishops.

All Catholic bishops are obliged to resign at the age of 75, however, the Pope may prolong their mandates. It is unclear whether Pope Francis will extend Duka’s mandate or not.

The Pope Benedict XVI previously did not accept the resignation of Duka’s predecessor, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, whose mandate was prolonged by two years in 2007.

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