The Catholic Church in Czechslovakia is deciding how to divide up and manage billion-dollar compensation it is due for property confiscated by the communists in the 1940s.
After more than 20 years of discussions, the country’s Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill returning the former property to 17 churches, of which the Catholic Church is the largest.
Under the bill, which is yet to be debated by the Senate, the state will gradually cease financing the churches over a period of 17 years.
The churches are to get back land and real estate worth $NZ4.5 billion and be given $NZ3.5 billion in financial compensation for unreturned property.
The largest amount of compensation, $NZ2.8 billion, will go to the Catholic Church.
Applications for property return must be filed by original owners. Because of population shifts, parishes that are now small may gain large properties and parishes that have grown large may gain nothing.
A spokeswoman for the Czech Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Veronika Vyvodova, said the Church is yet to discuss how to handle the restored property.
“We are at the very beginning. It is clear that negotiations inside dioceses must be held in order to prevent discrepancies and to secure a certain level of solidarity,” she said.
The Church may let or sell the property it receives, or use it for business purposes, the newspaper Lidove Noviny reported.
This has been done by some religious orders that have had property returned in the past. For example, a former monastery in Brno, returned to the Bohemian-Moravian branch of the Roman Union of the Order of St Ursula, hosts a shopping centre and earns money for the Order.
On the other hand, the north Bohemian Trmice parish’s effort to run a logging business ended in its bankruptcy and a loss of property.
Image: Prague Post
News category: World.