28 May 2012
|Czech PM Petr Necas|
The bill returns the real estate, confiscated by the communist regime, to 17 churches operating in the Czech Republic, and terminates the state financing of the clergy's pay. It is now being discussed by the Czech Chamber of Deputies.
Necas said the bill, if passed and implemented, would be more advantageous [than the status quo] for Czech public budgets in both the medium- and long-term outlook.
"I think it would not be a good path to follow," Necas said, commenting on some proposals for a postponement of the paying out of financial compensation to churches for the property that cannot be returned.
"The bill really settles relations between the state and all churches, not only the Catholic Church. In fact it means the separation of the state from churches, it does away with the absurd situation where priests are paid like state officials," Necas said.
Under the bill settling the church-state property relations, churches should get back more than a half of the property worth about 75 billion crowns that was confiscated from them under the Czechoslovak communist regime. Fifty-nine billion crowns are to be paid to them in compensation for the rest over a period of 30 years starting next year. Inflation could raise the sum to 78.9 up to 96.24 billion crowns.
Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease to finance churches. The transitional period is to last 17 years.
Necas also discussed in the Vatican bilateral relations that, diplomats say, are excellent.
This is true even though the long discussed treaty defining the position of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches has not yet been signed and that the number of people claiming a faith largely dropped according to the latest census in 2011.
A draft Czech-Vatican treaty was negotiated years ago, but the Chamber of Deputies did not pass it. The discussion on its changed wording could be resumed after the return of property to churches is passed.
Experts say the Czech Republic is the sole European country with a predominantly Catholic tradition not having the treaty as yet. Even some more or less Muslim countries, such as Kazakhstan, have signed a treaty with the Vatican.