Miloš Zeman spurns Catholic Church
The remains of the late Cardinal Josef Beran, who was interned by the communists and died in exile in the Vatican in 1969, were brought back to his home country on the weekend. President Miloš Zeman did not attend the commemoration mass, however, choosing instead to speak at the Communist Party conference - the first head of state to do so since 1989. Czech newspapers accuse the government and the Church of getting their priorities wrong.
Czech Republic facing totalitarian relapse
The posthumous return of the cardinal doesn't mean the danger of a return to a totalitarian regime has been banished, complains Aktuálně.cz:
“Is Beran really returning to a country where Nazism and communism have been wiped out? To a country that helps refugees and the displaced, as the cardinal did? The return of the cherished cardinal's remains comes at a time when the communists are gaining more influence here than they have had since their downfall. For the first time they are playing a role in the formation of a government. It is Zeman who is welcoming them with open arms. He said he gave the living priority over the dead, the present priority over the past. But isn't he giving the darkest chapter in our past priority instead?”
The Church has been silent for too long
The Catholic Church should have distanced itself from Zeman's policies far sooner, Lidové noviny criticises:
“For many the fact that Zeman talked to the communists rather than attending the mass for Cardinal Beran shows the president in a bad light. But why did Cardinal Duka wait so long to voice criticism of Zeman? It's a mystery. Until now Prague Castle and the Archbishop's Palace have seen eye to eye on many issues. ... Why, for example, did the president's years of support for xenophobia and racism not provoke any form of protest? ... From the Church's point of view any form of hatred should be unacceptable.”