Summary of the 81st plenary of Czech bishops
Velehrad: Auxiliary bishop Václav Malý of Prague opened the meeting yesterday with a reflection on the personal relation to Christ, dwelling upon the words of St Paul: "I consider all things so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ." In Christ, not only with Him, means to be drawn into his life, the Cross and the Resurrection. To be based in Christ means to be open to live freedom in Him. Person living from the Christ's justice experiences an interior peace and in Him he or she can accept even suffering and demands of the life.
In his reflection upon the life of the Church in today's society, Archbishop Dominik Duka underlined the wide impact of last year's papal visit to the Czech Republic. He also mentioned the declaration about the joint care for the cathedral of Ss Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert. As regards other topics of the Church-State relationship, he expressed the readiness of the Church to be open in the largest possible way in seeking a just solution, convenient for both parties.
During the first day of the plenary, bishops were visited by Msgr Jean-Louis Bruguès OP, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. He spoke about educational institutions administered by the congregation: 1,300 universities, 250,000 schools, and some 2,700 seminaries – except those that are subject to the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples. The congregation regularly publishes texts to help with priestly formation, last of them being the use of psychology for discerning the vocation and for accompanying the seminarists. Currently, the congregation prepares a reform of philosophical studies. In a discussion that followed, Czech bishops asked about the formation of priests. Msgr Bruguès underlined four levels of the formation: human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral, the most important of them being the human formation, which is necessary for accepting a lifetime obligation as regards the priestly vocation as well as marriage.
Archbishop Dominik Duka presented to bishops the project "Bible for Youth", negotiated with the director of the Carmelite Publishing House ("Karmelitánské nakladatelství"), Father Jan Fatka. Bishops then with one voice approved the draft Directive of the Czech Bishops' Conference for the preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Czech Republic. After six months, the Directive will be supplemented with a manual for its realization and after six years, it will be updated according to experience from practice. Bishops also supported suggestions of the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious Orders as regards the 800th anniversary of the birth of St Agnes of Bohemia in 2011. Because this significant anniversary will be accompanied by many cultural as well as scholarly activities, bishops recommend that a "calendar of events" related to the anniversary be issued in autumn.
Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle of Brno informed bishops about the preparations of the International Meeting of Permanent Deacons in Velehrad in 2013. Archbishop Duka then spoke about preparations of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Ss Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in 2013. Bishops agreed on creating a commission with members Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc, Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague and Bishop Ladislav Hučko, apostolic exarch of the Greek-Catholic Church. Besides a pastoral program, approved at the 79th plenary in January (this year is dedicated to the Word of God, following three years will focus on the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), an international conference in Brno is being prepared together with Slovakia and Hungary, scheduled are some exhibitions and publications and also a cooperation on documentary and educational programs in the Czech TV and Czech Broadcast. The preparations shall culminate with a Eucharistic congress in the jubilee year. The jubilee has an all-society, cultural and historical dimension; this is evidenced also by the preparatory commission of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.
Bishops welcomed the information of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for Family about the "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life", presided by the Holy Father on the vespers of the First Advent Sunday, November 27, 2010. The Holy Father wishes that this vigil be celebrated in all churches. Bishops agreed on scheduling the vigil in the liturgical calendar and on publication of suggested materials, necessary for this significant event.
Second guest of the plenary was Msgr Jan Mráz, rector of the Papal College Nepomucenum in Rome, who informed bishops about the current situation of this significant church institution abroad as well as about its perspectives.
The first day of the plenary was concluded with a mass celebrated for a thousand people in Provodov, Marian place of pilgrimage. Presiding over the liturgy was Archbishop Dominik Duka, president of the Czech Bishops' Conference. In his homily, Bishop František Radkovský of Plzeň underlined the desire of Mary to share with someone the "inexplicable and incomprehensible" event of angelic Annunciation. The angel also "suggested" her a person that could understand, Mary's relative Elisabeth. During this remarkable meeting, Mary recognizes that Elisabeth, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, knows about her motherhood and Mary can sing a praise to God.
After the plenary, on Sunday, July 4, bishops will accept the invitation of provost Josef Říha of St Maurice church in Kroměříž, and they will celebrate a mass there at 11.00 am. This year is the 750th anniversary of St Maurice church. Presiding over the mass will be Bishop František Václav Lobkowicz of Ostrava-Opava, a homily will be delivered by Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle of Brno. In the evening, bishops will take part in the "Concert for people of Good Will".
On Monday, July 5, bishops will celebrate a mass in front of the Velehrad basilica. Presiding over the liturgy will be Cardinal Miloslav Vlk and delivering a homily will be Archbishop Duka. At the end, several prizes will be conferred: Order of Ss Cyril and Methodius for a lifelong work to František Xaver Halas and his wife Dagmar Halasová, Thankful Appreciation for a poetic work and a contribution to the culture to Dr Jaroslav Eliáš and Věroslav Mertl, and a Commemorative Medal of the Czech Bishops' Conference to Dr Petr Příhoda and Father Josef Koláček.
Before the mass, from 8.30 to 9.30 am, archbishops Jan Graubner and Dominik Duka will be signing their books in front of the basilica. In the afternoon, Bishop Ladislav Hučko, apostolic exarch of the Greek-Catholic Church, will be presiding over the Byzantine liturgy of St John Chrysostom in the basilica of the Assumption and Ss Cyril and Methodius in Velehrad.