The Czech parliament has approved the return of Church properties confiscated during the Communist era. The property, valued at $7 billion, will be returned over the next three decades and …
This is a remarkable victory for the ruling government, and something the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has long sought. In previous discussions here, it was far from certain that the measure would pass. It had been defeated several times, and the government coalition was shaky.
The law envisages handing churches land, property, and financial compensation worth about $7 billion over a period of 30 years. Under the plan, the churches would become independent from the state and gradually stop getting government financing.
The agreement should unlock about 6 percent of the country’s forests and fields that once belonged to mostly Christian churches but which have been tied up pending a resolution of the restitution question.
The financial compensation component comes to about only $100 million per year but has huge symbolic value at a time of tax hikes and austerity measures that the government has adopted to try to cut the budget deficit.
The measure is very unpopular with Czech voters, a country which has the highest proportion of atheists (37%) in Europe.
There were threats earlier this year that even if the bill passed, the opposition would dismantle it once they gain power again.
Regardless, many court battles are expected as conflicting claims of ownership are made. For example, German religious orders are expected to lay claim to properties which had been confiscated by the Nazis. But were the religious orders able to reclaim the properties before the Communists confiscated the properties? Or were the properties in the hands of someone else at the time of the Communist confiscation?
Brilliant. Generous. Just. With my own country (the US) seemingly headed in the other direction - I may rename my “Good countries file” as my “Czech list!” :banghead::doh2:
It was their Prague - ative! :nope: - not punny CaptFun!