Religious representatives on property settlement
Discussions on the draft law on the property settlement of the State with churches and religious societies in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic is now in the blind alley. Instead of debating about relevant issues, a space was created for a political fight that lacks moral dimension as well as the substance of the problem – reparation of harms done by the communist regime. The Parliament has turned into a platform where churches and religious societies are blamed for various sinister motives and are suspected from dishonesty. This way all the believers in our country are offended. It cannot be ignored that a calculated rhetoric, often in poor taste, provokes anti-religious and anti-ecclesiastical atmosphere in a part of the society. The Parliament, which has to guarantee a legitimacy and democracy, thus ceases to perform its task. We do know that it is not an opinion and attitude of the entire institution, but it is caused by speeches of some of its members. Our task is not to contradict things that have been contradicted earlier, or to explain what has been explained, because all these have been done many times. Churches and religious societies are convinced that pursuing one’s own political benefits with obstructions to block the Parliament’s work, a thing we have witnessed recently, contradicts the democratic principles and has consequently serious affects on our country.
As we have agreed with the government’s draft law, we want to summarize once more our reasons for such a decision:
The aim is to help the State to:
a) cut its financial support for churches and religious societies (these have to finance themselves largely above the provisions of the Act 218/49),
b) unblock the land originally owned by churches and religious societies, and thus enable development of communities and towns,
c) end a nonstandard state of legal uncertainty as regards ownership of real estate in the Czech Republic and thus support development of investment activities, building of infrastructure and development of labour market,
d) last but not least, to end settlement with the communist history by the way of partial compensation and thus to close this chapter of a totalitarian regime.
Again we mention that the suggested amount of financial compensation per year is less than 2 billion Czech crowns (some 80 million euro), that is 0.17 per cent of the Czech state budget. This cannot endanger any of mandatory expenses (retirement pensions, social benefits and others). Churches and religious societies consider the draft law on the property settlement as a compromise on behalf of churches and religious societies as well as the State and the entire society.
Cardinal Dominik Duka, president of the Czech Bishops’ Conference
Joel Ruml, president of the Ecumenical Council of Churches
Jiří Daníček, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities