Archbishop Duka elected President of the Czech Bishops´ Conference
Prague: Vojtěch Cikrle, Bishop of Brno, opened the jubilee 80th plenary meeting by the spiritual words. In this Easter time he reminded briefly of the sense of Easter: the suffering led to the victory of God. He remembered also the words from the first article of the statutes of the Czech Bishops´ Conference: "…board of bishops…who in the mutual relation exercise various pastoral tasks in favour of the faithful in Christ…". This is what bishops should seek all the time again - that their voices create a choir, in which at the same time each voice matters. "When the Holy Spirit descended, he did so as one flame but split up upon all the disciples", said bishop.
Apostolic Nuncio Diego Causero greeted bishops at the beginning of the meeting. At first he welcomed the new Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka at the board of bishops. He reminded bishops of the responsibility for the holiness of the Church and appealed them to put all their strengths in the evangelisation, effectual love and prayer for communities entrusted to them. According to him the attitude of the public opinion as well as of the political representatives towards the Church has positively changed and also the visit of Holy Father in the Czech Republic in the last year has contributed to it. Further on he motivated bishops to be united in the mutual confidence and in the constant brotherly cooperation. He also thanked the Cardinal Miloslav Vlk for two decades of his service, in which he had re-established and strengthened the diocese in Prague and had set forward a model of pastoral work. He understands the oncoming election campaign as an occasion for the stressing of essential components of the social teaching of the Church in the way that they would help the serious and morally correct reflection of the life of the society. To conclude with he highlighted the significance of the departed Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík, en extraordinary well-educated man of the Church, who exceeded in his personality.
In this context Jan Graubner, Archbishop of Olomouc and President of the Czech Bishops´ Conference, informed about the last journey of the Cardinal Špidlík and invited all to the funeral which would take place at Velehrad April 30 at 4 pm.
Archbishop Dominik Duka, for the first time at the meeting of the Czech Bishops´ Conference as Prague archbishop, in his reflection of the Church in the today’s society stated that the media campaign against the Church and against the Pope had its deeper roots. It is result of moral liberalization and of sexual waves of the sixties and seventies in the last century. This strives to commit the church education and in the end the Pope. At the same time many serious phenomena’s from the last century – as for example implementing of the sexual education into the kindergarten in Germany – remain without attention.
But the new Prague archbishop also stressed the unacceptability of the sexual abuse and the steps, which the Church had taken in this direction under the Pope John Paul II as well as Benedict XVI and he reminded of the Pope´s Letter to Irish Catholic.
Archbishop Duka is often asked three questions: about the solution of the ownership of the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, the ratification of the treaty between the Czech Republic and Vatican and the property settlement between the state and the Church. He repeated that in the question of the cathedral he held the view of the reconciliation, in the question of the treaty with Vatican he said, that the Czech public officials had declared their view in the sense that only some expressions were disputable and in the property settlement he recommended to take up again to the last agreement of all churches and the Federation of the Jewish Communities, where the independent experts set the minimal value (approximately 80 milliards) and the gain in the height of 3.5 milliards. But the very dealing is first of all in the interest of towns, communes, regions and state because not solving the question of the property settlement locks the reasonable and effective usage of the property. At the same time Archbishop Duka repeated the viewpoint of the State Secretary of the Holy See Cardinal Tarcisius Bertone of not burdening the society in the time of crisis. The very agreement, as the treaty between the Czech Republic and the Holy See mentions, should be acceptable for all and should not disadvantage any of the sides. But all depends on the results of the parliamentary elections. He ensured the bishops that he wanted to strive for openness in these questions, but it was necessary to consider the crisis and current political situation.
Later on bishops dealt with particular items on the agenda. They discussed the possible development of the catechetic activities and confirmed P. ThDr. Pawel Nowatkowski in the function of the national director of the Catechetic Section for the further five-year long period. Further on they spoke about the usage and ensuring of the operations of the residence Nepomucenum in Rome. František Radkovský, Bishop of Pilsen, explained the final stage of the realisation of the unified information system in the Church. As an stimulus for the acquiring of further co-operators for the pastoral work with gipsies bishop Hučko presented an offer of lectures of P. Jiří Rous, National director for pastoral care of gipsies, which is based on his longstanding experience in this field. Director of the Section for Youth, P. Vít Zatloukal, presented proposals of the pastoral activities for youth for this year and bishops accepted and supported them. They also made an announcement to the intentions of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in the field of sexual education. They above all regard the wording of the prepared methodical manual as non-acceptable. Bishops support the aspiration to give children and youth some sufficient information in this field, but they emphasize that this should be done with respect to cultural, social and family context. Further on bishops agreed on the standpoint towards the medial criticism of the Pope.
At the end of the first day bishops celebrated a Requiem Mass for Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík in the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, which was chaired by the Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka. In the homily Jan Graubner, the Archbishop of Olomouc remembered the main life periods of cardinal´s life and pointed out his immense fruits.
During this plenary assembly bishops voted their new leadership in secret elections. Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka was elected the President of the Czech Bishops´ Conference, and Archbishop Jan Graubner the Vice-president. To the Permanent Council of the Czech Bishops´ Conference, which consists of five members and according to the statutes three of them are the President, the Vice-President and the General-Secretary, bishops voted also František Radkovský, Bishop of Plzeň and František Lobkowicz, Bishop of Ostrava-Opava. Apostolic Exarch Ladislav Hučko has remained General Secretary of the Czech Bishops´ Conference for the next period.