Czech Church Mourns the Death of Václav Havel
Prague: Czech and Moravian bishops thank God for the life of Václav Havel who died at the age of 75 on Saturday, December 18. They also appreciate deeply everything this great man had done for the nation. Many bishops and clerics have issued their statements of sympathy with the mourning and reflections on Václav Havel's life and deeds, as many of them personally knew the dissident leader of Charta 77 and the first post-communist President of Czechoslovakia from the times of communist persecution or even from prison. Throughout the country, masses are offered for the statesman. Leading personages of the Czech Church are in unison with various national leaders in proclaiming that Havel’s modest humanism and search for the truth survive as a bounding heritage to the nation.
A philosopher, writer and playwright, one of the first speakers of Charta 77 and the leading personage of political changes in Czechoslovakia in November 1989, the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel died in the company of his wife Dagmar and one of the Sisters of Mercy of St. Borromeo who were taking care of him in the last months of his life. The body of the deceased former President was made available for the general public to pay tribute on Monday afternoon at the former St. Agnes Church in Prague and thousands have been pouring in.
Václav Havel’s funeral is to take place on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 12.00 a.m. at the Ss. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert Cathedral in Prague. The Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka OP, a former fellow prisoner of the deceased in communist prison, is to lead the requiem service. The ceremony in the Cathedral will then be concluded by bishop Václav Malý who as a priest cooperated with Havel and the Charta 77 movement and became well-known during the revolution year 1989.
This will be the first state funeral in the history of the independent Czech Republic and in some features, it is to be modelled after the funeral of the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. The Czech government has also already passed a law stating that Václav Havel has made a contribution to the state - an honour only bestowed upon the first two presidents of Czechoslovakia, T.G. Masaryk and Eduard Beneš.
The official part is organized in cooperation with the family of the deceased by the Committee for State Funeral formed by the President Václav Klaus, the Prime Minister Petr Nečas, the Chair of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch, and the Chair of the Czech Parliament Miroslava Němcová. Numerous other political and social authorities both from the Czech Republic and from abroad are expected to attend the ceremony. (For closer information contact the Office of the President of the Republic at www.hrad.cz) A private ceremony at a crematory will follow and the funeral will be concluded by depositing the urn of Václav Havel to the family grave.