Protestors in the Czech Republic ask Pope to practise what he preaches

Posted: Wed, 29 May 2013

Protestors in the Czech Republic ask Pope to practise what he preaches

Top writers, film-makers and artists in the Czech Republic – including Lenka Procházková and documentary maker Václav Dvořák – are asking the Pope to practise what he preaches and to prevent the Czech Government from returning state-owned property to the country's Catholic Church.

The opponents of the plan are citing the Pope's own stated belief that the Church should serve the poor instead of trying to enrich itself further.

The campaign has the title 'Stop Church Restitution' and says that the return of the property has split Czech society and intensified the despair of the country's poorest.

Under the restitution, 16 Czech Churches (with the Catholic Church being by far the biggest recipient) are to be given back real estate worth the equivalent of £2.4bn plus £1.9bn in financial compensation over 30 years.

The agreement took 20 years of hard negotiations but is still opposed by the majority of Czechs, according to opinion polls.

The Church Restitution Bill was approved by the Lower House of the Czech Parliament and signed into law by the Czech president last year.

The opposition Social Democrats and Communists say it gives Churches more property than was confiscated by the Czechoslovak Communist regime after 1948.

The opponents also filed an official complaint with the Czech Constitutional Court, which held the first public hearing on the matter on Wednesday.

Tags: Catholic Church, Europe