CZECH REPUBLIC: STEPS FORWARD TOWARDS THE LAW ON CHURCH PROPERTY RESTITUTION
(Sir Europe - Bratislava) - The Parliament of Czech Republic finally approved the law on Church property restitution last Friday, with 93 votes out of 182. “The Catholic Church is pleased that after more than 20 years of discussions, the Parliament has passed a significant measure that will benefit the life and activity of Churches in a democratic society”, said Mons. Tomas Holub, general secretary of the Czech Bishops´ Conference. The total amount to be restituted to the Catholic Church is 134 billions CZK (5.36 billion euro). It will be divided into two parts: 75 billions CZK will be returned in the form of property and 59 billions in the form of financial compensations to Churches and religious associations over a 30-year period. The law plays a significant role in the separation of Churches from the State. “The current contribution of the State to the functioning of Churches and religious associations will last for three years; after this period, it will gradually decrease by 5% annually, until a complete separation is reached”, explained Monika Vývodová, the spokesperson of the Bishops´ Conference. After approval by the Parliament, the bill will be subject to consideration by the Senate where the opposition CSSD party has majority and is expected to vote against. However, Prime Minister Petr Necas is optimistic: “I am convinced that there will be enough votes and the final ballot will be succesful”.