Welcome home, Cardinal Beran!

After 49 years, the will of a significant person of the 20th century, prisoner of two totalitarian regimes and a man who always stood on the right side, has been fulfilled. Remains of Cardinal Josef Beran were welcome in Prague yesterday and transferred to the cathedral this morning; the solemn mass in commemoration of St. Adalbert was celebrated afterwards.
Published: 21. 4. 2018 18:00

Foto: Roman Albrecht / Člověk a víra

The Basilica of the Assumption in Strahov, Prague was the starting point of the procession this morning to pay tribute to the two figures that had had a huge impact on the life of the Czech Church and society during the last thousand years. From the place where Josef Cardinal Beran had delivered one of his last homilies before being interned by the communists, his remains, transferred from Rome, as well as the relics of St. Adalbert were brought to the Prague cathedral. The mass to commemorate the feast of St. Adalbert was presided here by Cardinal Dominik Duka OP who expressed the humility in this significant moment by entering the church, filled with people, barefoot.

“Do not remain silent, Archbishop!”

In his homily, he stressed how important it is to evangelize, a task that was significant in the service of Bishop Adalbert as well as Cardinal Beran. “The defence of human liberty and fight against slavery together with the constant effort in promotion of the loving family life as well as of the true life of priests: this was the missionary program of both our great expatriates,” said Cardinal Duka.

He then paid great attention to warn against the threats that affect the life of the Czech society and to suggest the ways how to protect it. “For many centuries we have known that it is about man, about our humanity, which is at stake in the times of Saint Adalbert, after the World War II as well as today. It surely is only a coincidence that at the very moment when we welcome here Cardinal Beran, the President of the Czech Republic is being a guest of the congress of the Communist Party, who – despite being defeated in the general election – demands still greater portion of the power. This is a very explicit sign of the hour where our nation stands and all the greater is the responsibility of the head of the State to say a decisive word,” Cardinal Duka said.

He also mentioned that “as in the times of Saint Adalbert and of Cardinal Beran, the family is attacked: unprecedented and destructive laws are designed and passed against it. Laws degrading man to asexual something are being prepared. Laws against Churches, let’s say it ecumenically, are designed with the aim to marginalize and control them.” He mentioned that similarly as his predecessors he could not remain silent as regards the current events – he had to “warn, appeal for reason and for reconciliation and for the service to the neighbors!” Specifically, he named the disintegration of democracy in Europe, polarization and radicalization in the society, degradation of family ties or the play “Our Violence and Your Violence” by O. Frljić that is going to be staged in Brno. Closing his homily, the Prague archbishop said that “the Church is on the side of the nation, the side of all the citizens of the Czech Republic who live here, work for the development of the country and protect her.

Josef Beran, the prophet of his time

The ceremony in the Prague cathedral was meant not only as a celebration of the living faith in the public space but also as an event filled with many symbols. Besides the gesture of Cardinal Duka from the opening procession, let us mention that the coffin of the 33rd Prague archbishop was carried by seminarians to recall their predecessors who protected Cardinal Beran by their own bodies against those who came to intern him. The first reading was in the sign language to recall the spiritual care that Cardinal Beran had offered to the deaf-mute; and the intercessions were read by representatives of other Churches, as Cardinal Beran was well-known for his ecumenical cooperation based in his experience in the Dachau concentration camp. The mass was attended by bishops of the Czech Republic together with representatives of the Slovak, Polish and Hungarian bishops’ conferences.

Cardinal Beran was welcome with triumphs, as foretold by his close friend Štěpán Cardinal Trochta, bishop of Litoměřice. In 1969 he wrote to Beran: “Since August 21 [1968] I keep asking whether God has chosen for you another, triumphal return, the same as the one of your predecessor St. Adalbert. If God really chose you for this journey, it would mean that he loves you in a special way and he wants to reward you the way we people are not able to.

With this return to his homeland, the last will of the late Cardinal has been fulfilled, as he was buried in 1969 in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. The communist regime in then Czechoslovakia made it impossible for Cardinal Beran to return while alive as well as after his death; the return of the remains was allowed earlier this year by Pope Francis.

The Cardinal is at home, what will happen now?

The coffin will now remain exposed for public reverence in the cathedral and on Monday, April 23, after the evening mass, it will be placed in the new sarcophagus in the chapel of St. Agnes of Bohemia.

In Plzeň, where Cardinal Beran was born, a memorial plaque will be placed in the cathedral of St. Bartholomew since April 22; this plaque was taken from the temporary tomb of Cardinal Beran in the Vatican basilica. However, the place of reverence would be still kept in the Vatican, as a new plaque would be placed here, close to the tombs of popes as well as the tomb of St. Peter.

More information on Cardinal Beran and his beatification procedure are available at http://kardinaljosefberan.cz.

(Source: Archdiocese of Prague, Diocese of Plzeň, Czech News Agency, Czech Television)


Jiří Gračka

Related pages