Czech Parliament Votes to Return Churches Stolen During Communist Era
In a pledge to “end the legacy of Communism” the Czech Republic’s parliament approved a plan to return property to churches that were stolen during 1948-1989. Though, this is a victory for reversing persecution against Christians during that era of Communism, the fight is not over as this was a narrow win and there are already pledges to “block the legislation in the Senate.”
By Stefan J. Bos
07/14/2012 Czech Republic (BosNewsLife)- The lower house of the Czech Republic’s parliament narrowly approved a government plan late Friday, July 13, to return property seized from churches during the 1948-1989 Communist era, and to pay billions of dollars in compensation.
Supporters view the move as a major step to end the legacy of Communism, but the opposition has pledged to block the legislation in the Senate.
Under the plan agreed by the ruling parties and 17 religious groups led by the Catholic church, the state will give back most properties confiscated under Communism, mainly land and buildings, worth some $4 billion.
Prague also pledges about $2.8 billion in cash compensation to the churches, split into 30 yearly payments.
“It‘s crucial that we’ve managed to agree on it,” Prime Minister Petr Necas said in separate remarks.
The plan was approved by the Czech lower house of parliament, with 93 votes for and 89 against.
Friday’s vote came after Prime Minister Petr Necas visited Pope Benedict XVI to discus relations between the church and state.
During that May visit he gave the Pope a copy of a 9th century Gospel book, from the oldest monastery in Prague, while the pope handed over a Pontifical medal and a special pen.
While the Czech government and churches view the restitution plan as a step to overcome decades of wrongdoing, opponents want to block it in the upper house, the Senate.