Cardinal Vlk died
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk was born on 17th May 1932 in Líšnice, Southern Bohemia. Having finished high school in 1952 and unable to take up theological studies, he worked at a car-making factory in České Budějovice. During the time of unstable political liberty he entered the Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Philosophy, for the Archival Science. He graduated in 1960 and worked as an archivist in Southern Bohemian towns of Třeboň, Jindřichův Hradec and České Budějovice. He published many scientific articles in various periodicals.
In 1964 he was allowed to enter the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Theological Faculty in Litoměřice, on 23rd June 1968 he was ordained priest by Bishop Josef Hlouch of České Budějovice and appointed his secretary. His influence and enthusiasm in the pastoral care had aroused much concern among Communist authorities, therefore he had to go to mountain villages Lažiště and Záblatí in 1971, and in 1972 he was transferred to Rožmitál pod Třemšínem, where he served for seven years. In 1978, his “State Approval of the Priestly Service” was taken off.
For the next ten years he lived in Prague, secretly served in small groups of faithful and worked as a window-cleaner and later as an archivist in the Czechoslovakian State Bank. On 1st January 1989, he was allowed once again to exercise his priestly ministry and administered parishes in the Klatovy district.
After the “Velvet Revolution”, he was appointed bishop of České Budějovice on 14th February 1990 and ordained bishop on 31st March. On 27th March 1991, he was appointed archbishop of Prague and metropolitan of Bohemia.
From 1991 to 1992 he was a president of the Czechoslovakian Bishops’ Conference, in 1993 – 2000 of the Czech Bishops’ Conference. In 1993 – 2001 he was president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). On 26th November 1994 he was appointed cardinal, two days later he was nominated member of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for the Social Communication. In May 2007, being 75 years old, he abdicated on his office and his resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI on 13th February 2010.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk was conferred many prizes: on 25th February 1999, he was awarded the Great Cross of Service (Grosses Verdienstkreuz), a state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany, and on 28th October 2002 the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, a state decoration of the Czech Republic, for his eminent contribution to the promotion of democracy and human rights.
In 1992 – 1993 he was conferred honorary degrees from Illinois Benedictine College and St. Thomas University in USA and a Doctorate of Theology at Passau, Germany. In 2001 – 2002 he was conferred two other honorary degrees in Poland (Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow and University in Opole).
(Transl.: Jiří Gračka)