Church would like to better perform its mission
Prague (CZ): Ing. Karel Štícha (*1952) has been working for the Prague Archbishopric as the head of the Unit of administration of properties since 1994 and as accountant since 2002. He is member of the Economical council of the Prague Archbishopric. In the year 2007 Czech Bishops´ Conference appointed him to the Expert council of churches for the negotiations with state about the property arrangements and consequently he was assigned its chairman.
In one of the first questions he recalled that Catholic Church does not ask for any privileges but just for certain justice. It wants to have space for its activities to better perform its mission. Catholic Church would like to achieve this by gaining of economical independence which could be reached when at least a part of its property seized by communists would be compensated.
On the question, how is the situation in other post-communist countries, Ing. Štícha said that in Slovakia and Hungary the property arrangements were already solved, in Poland the property seizures during communist regime were not as vast as in the Czech Republic. And also in other countries of the former Eastern bloc the situation has already been somehow arranged. Churches in the Czech Republic are the last vast group of legal persons with uninterrupted legal continuity, to which the injustice carried out after 1948 has not been redressed in a significant way.
Concerning the question referred to the suspected influence of the church after the returning of the property and whether church will be able to care for its finance and properties, Ing. Štícha said yes, it will have to. Claims of the churches towards the state are not infirmed by the contemporary Czech political representation and the Catholic Church is ready to take over the properties and to administrate them fairly and meaningfully. Catholic Church has managed this for centuries and there is no reason to think that the present days should exceed this tradition. What is in the simplified way called as ´property of churches´ is in fact property of particular church legal persons as parishes, canonries, bishoprics, archbishoprics, Caritas and other legal persons. Church as a whole does not possess anything.
It is true that this issue is very complex. Beside state there are also its single institutions and in some way also political streams included into the process and beside the Roman-Catholic Church also other 16 non-catholic churches ask for certain justice. From the questions or commentaries sent during the on-line interview one could see the discontent in the society with the situation related to the property arrangements between state and churches. It is necessary to better communicate further dealings about church restitutions in order to inform public fairly and to bring more comprehensive picture about the whole issue. The carried on-line interview was a contribution to this intention.