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Czech Parliament Approves Return Of Church Properties
ICC Note:
Property confiscated from the Catholic Church during the previous communist regime is now in on its way to being returned. After years of negotiation, the Parliament has agreed to return the land over the next thirty years. While this could be vetoed by the President, it is a huge “win” for Catholics in the country.
By Stefan J. Bos
11/8/2012 Czech Republic (BosNewsLife)- The Czech Parliament has approved a plan to return billions of dollars in church properties that were confiscated by the previous Communist regime. The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has welcomed the deal, after years of negotiations.
Under the legislation, churches will receive lands, properties and compensation worth some $7 billion over a period of 30 years.
It includes about six percent of the country’s forests and fields that once belonged to mostly Christian churches.
That land, which was confiscated by the previous Communist regime after 1948, could in future be developed, rented or sold to help pay for the Church’s mission.
CHURCH REACTS
In a first reaction statement, Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka said “he is glad” that the “painstakingly negotiated compromise on religious restitution was eventually approved” more than two decades after the collapse of Communism.
The vote is viewed as a victory for Prime Minister Peter Necas who fought hard for the return of the church properties in what is viewed as Europe’s most atheistic nation
Following events is Tibor Krebsz, the executive director of the Central-European Religious Freedom Institute in Budapest. Krebsz told BosNewsLife that he isn’t surprised it took years before the deal was finalized.
“As the statistics say, Czech people are more atheistic than maybe the Hungarians,” he said. “I see that when this law was done in Hungary in the middle of the 1990s, there was I think a different spiritual background. Maybe the people were more open and supporting religion,” Krebsz added.
PRESIDENTIAL VETO?
The Czech law will now go to President Vaclav Klaus, who has voiced reservations about the bill.
He can veto the law after the Senate already rejected it.
Analysts say however that the 102 votes Prime Necas won in the 200-seat lower house of parliament would be enough to overturn any presidential veto.

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