Bishops of the Czech Republic met at their plenary
Špindlerův Mlýn: The plenary meeting started with a meditation by Bishop Pavel Posád on the example of martyr St. Stephen. Cardinal Dominik Duka, archbishop of Prague, then informed the gathering about the situation of the Church in the today’s society. He also said that on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, a thanksgiving mass will be celebrated at the Prague cathedral on June 27. The cardinal also analyzed recent journey of Pope Benedict XVI to Cuba and the situation of the Catholic Church in other countries in Europe as well as in the world. Speaking about the life in the Czech Republic, he mentioned two significant conferences that took place in Prague – one of them at the Parliament – concerning the property settlement between State and Churches. He also spoke about two forums that were held to interpret data of the 2011 census.
Secretary General of the Czech Bishops’ Conference Msgr. Tomáš Holub proposed draft guidelines for proceedings of the statutory bodies of ecclesiastic juridical persons to be presented to the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic since May 2, 2012. Bishops authorized the guidelines.
Members of the Czech Bishops’ Conference then discussed the property settlement between State and Churches, especially as regards a new model for financing the Church. It is essential that all bodies take care of preserving the property as well as its revenue.
During the first day of the plenary, bishops were visited by Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic Msgr. Giuseppe Leanza. He expressed his support to the bishops’ pastoral care and stressed the fact that plenary meetings are of special significance, as they strengthen a fellowship between bishops and their bond to the Holy Father. He also said that April is marked by several events important for the universal Church: this year we celebrate the 85th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI, seventh anniversary of his pontificate, and on April 24 it had been seven years since he had assumed the office of the pastor of the Catholic Church.
In the afternoon, members of the Czech Bishops' Conference authorized the establishment of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem as a private Christian association. They also dwelt on activities of the Caritas Czech Republic. Regarding the social impact and significance of this institution, the plenum decided on creating the Commission of the Czech Bishops' Conference for Charity and appointed as its members Archbishop Jan Graubner, Bishop František Radkovský and Bishop Pavel Posád. Consequently the position of bishop – delegate for charity and mission has been changed to cover mission only. The first day of the plenary was closed with a mass in the church of St. Peter in Špindlerův Mlýn and during the liturgy bishops also celebrated the centenary of the Pontifical Missionary Works in the Czech lands.
On the second day of their plenary, bishops discussed economical situation of the organizations, established by the Czech Bishops' Conference. They also agreed on proceedings in creating a concept for catechesis, namely a framework for a new educational program to introduce pupils into Christianity, a framework program of religious education and formation of children and young people in parishes, and a document on trends in catechesis. Members of the Conference also discussed names of people proposed for honorary awards of the Czech Bishops’ Conference – the Order of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, and the Memorial Medal of the Czech Bishops’ Conference. They authorized supplements to the guidelines for the marriage preparation in the Czech Republic. Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc then informed the gathering about preparations for the Jubilee of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in 2013. Many activities are under way on the national level, these being coordinated by the national Ss. Cyril and Methodius Committee. The official website (www.velehrad.eu or www.cyrilametodej.eu) has been launched as well. On the occasion of a three-year-long preparation, Archbishop Graubner prepared a prayer novena for this year, which is dedicated to the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Common celebration of the opening of the Year of Ss. Cyril and Methodius will take place in Rome on May 25, 2012. Representing the Czech Bishops' Conference will be Cardinals Dominik Duka and Miloslav Vlk. Within the celebration, a mass will be celebrated together with European bishops in the church of St. Praxedes and presiding over the liturgy will be Cardinal Péter Erdő, president of the CCEE. In the evening, a concert of the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra from Zlín will take place in the basilica of Saint Mary Major under the auspices of the Zlín Region and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Nečas.
Bishops also remembered the centenary of the establishment of the Pontifical Missionary Works in the Czech lands. This worldwide institution was created to spread the faith and help those in need, especially children. In 2011, a collection of the Pontifical Missionary Works in the Czech Republic for children in poor countries gained more than 8 million crowns (over 300,000 euro).
Closing the session, bishops agreed on issuing of a common “Address of Bishops on the Social Situation in the Czech Republic.”