82ND PLENARY MEETING OF THE CZECH BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ENDED
Vranov u Brna: After a morning prayer, President of the Czech Bishops’ Conference (CBK) Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague welcomed the participants and opened the plenary. A meditation of Auxiliary Bishop Josef Hrdlička of Olomouc followed. Dwelling on the words of the III Eucharistic Prayer “may he make us an everlasting gift to you,” he underlined that as the expression “may he make us” states, the entire human life is a process of becoming, maturing, fulfilling and completing. And what are we and want to be made? “An everlasting gift.” The term lets us know the limitations of our egoism. Even the most faithful disciples of Jesus knew their limitations, when they were told to watch but fell asleep. In this context, Bishop Hrdlička mentioned the 600th anniversary of the “Prague Orloj”, or the astronomical clock, built in October 1410. The clock’s “Walk of the Apostles”, the first bishops’ conference, reminds us silently that Someone came to tell us why we are here and where we are going. It is worth mentioning that their attributes are the instruments of their martyrdom, telling us that the sacrifice of life is a journey to the victory and a key point in following Christ.
Archbishop Duka spoke about two journeys he recently had done. First of them led him to the plenary meeting of presidents of European bishops’ conferences on Sep. 30 – Oct. 3 in Zagreb, focusing in the demographical evolution and questions connected with today’s situation and mission of families. On Oct. 6, Archbishop Duka delivered a lecture in Berlin at the annual meeting of Church representatives with civil authorities and media representatives. He spoke about “Religion in a Secularized Society;” the lecture in Czech can be found at his website www.dominikduka.cz. Assessing the situation in the Czech Republic, Archbishop Duka mentioned steps aiming at the ratification of the Czech Republic – Vatican Treaty as well as the Property Arrangement Act that is required especially by municipal authorities – the act blocking the land owned by churches before 1948 affects life of villages and towns seriously. This issue will be a topic of the conference of competent diocesan workers on Oct. 26, 2010 at the Prague Archbishop’s Palace. In connection with the recent National Pilgrimage to St Wenceslaus, Archbishop Duka underlined that the Wenceslaus tradition is acknowledged by the State representatives as well.
Following this theme in his address to the bishops’ conference was Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Diego Causero. He reminded the bishops that the Czech Republic is the only country where two bank holidays are dedicated to saints (Ss Cyril and Methodius on July 5, St Wenceslaus on Sep. 28) and one to Jan Hus. This fact bears witness that these men left a “deep spiritual footprint” in the history of our country. Archbishop Causero suggested bishops to reflect the matter with their cooperators and “decide whether it is worth the effort to deepen living awareness of all Czech citizens – believers as well as non-believers – that the nation was born from a Christian vision of its first prince.” He also spoke about better understanding of Jan Hus in the Czech history with regard to a book by Jiří Kejř “Jan Hus Known and Unknown”. The apostolic nuncio then recalled a project discussed by the conference earlier, i.e. a study of the religious history of Bohemia and Moravia, and mentioned also the last year papal visit to our country. He called on bishops to show in their attitudes and statements that the Church is close to people, she shares their worries and fears and wishes to contribute to the development of the Czech society with fraternal support and cooperation.
During the first meeting day, bishops supported a proposal of Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle of Brno to start a diocesan beatification procedure of Father Václav Drbola. Bishop Jiří Paďour – CBK’s delegate for youth – informed bishops about participation of the conference’s Department for Youth in the preparation of the World Youth Day to be held in Madrid next year and invited the bishops to the event. Most of the bishops accepted, they will accompany Czech young people to the meeting with the Pope. Guest of the plenary was Father Pavel Dokládal, main coordinator of the National Pilgrimage to Rome in November to express gratitude to the Holy Father for his last year visit to the Czech Republic. He presented to the bishops preparations of the pilgrimage and details of its program. On this occasion, Archbishop Duka reiterated bishops’ intention to invite the Holy Father to a short visit of Velehrad for the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Ss Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in 2013.
The first plenary day was closed with a mass celebrated in the cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Brno. Presiding over the liturgy was Bishop František Radkovský of Plzeň, Archbishop Duka delivered a homily. He recalled the historical role of St Radim, saint of the day, for our county as well as the entire Central Europe. Based on the first reading he also underlined the importance that the freedom in Christ has for human life. After the mass, Archbishop Duka visited poet Zdeněk Rotrekl to congratulate him on his 90th birthday and convey him a silver St Adalbert medal “for personal courage and a contribution to spiritual poetry”.
The second day of the meeting was opened by a mass in the basilica of the Birth of Our Lady in Vranov u Brna. Presiding over the celebration was Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc and Bishop Ladislav Hučko, secretary general of the CBK, delivered a homily about the four “woe” from the Gospel of Luke. He underlined that they concern today’s man and can be applied to a service of bishop as well, not only to a cult, but also to a love of neighbour (not to be one-sided). If honours are necessary, then not to us, but to Christ (eradicate even the least remains of pride). Our appearance and behaviour must be in accordance with our thinking (not even the least scent of hypocrisy) and we have not to be afraid (not to be cowards) to stand in the first line.
Bishops agreed on proposed modifications in the Statutes of the Caritas Czech Republic. The bishops’ conference appreciated the activities of the Charity and discussed financing of social service, because the current legal reform of the funding is not very good. They also spoke about the competence of regional authorities that distribute financial resources for social service and at the same time operate various social facilities. These are often favoured in money distribution against facilities run by other organizations.
Archbishop Jan Graubner informed bishops that for the 2013 jubilee, a book will be released by Petr Piťha. Bishops agreed that in the first year of a three-year preparation period, focused on the Sacrament of Baptism, a novena will take place on April 1-9, 2011 based on texts that will be available in February. They also mentioned the jubilee of St Agnes of Bohemia, her 800th birthday. On this occasion, a mass will be held in Doksany on the day of her oblation, June 11, and two exhibitions are being prepared – at the St Agnes Convent in Prague and at the Prague Castle. The year 2015 will mark the anniversary of the death of Jan Hus and 2017 will mark 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Two bishops were entrusted with the task of appoint and coordinating a working group that would draft out principles of prevention against abuse of children by people working at the Catholic institutions and by family members – Bishop František Lobkowicz, president of the CBK’s Economy and Law Commission, and Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle, delegate of the CBK for families.