Friday, August 25, 2017

Czech Catholic leader: we're in the state of war

Dominik Duka is the Archbishop of Prague and the Primate of Bohemia. His boss Francis in the Vatican recently said that countries should make the life comfortable for illegal immigrants even if it means the self-destruction of the European country. Well, not every official in the Catholic Church is a perfidious man in this sense. Here's an interview with Duka translated from a Czech business day.

Terrorism is the state of war but we're unwilling to admit it. Political correctness has morphed into a lie, Cardinal Duka says
Interview by Mr Petr Honzejk, Mr Tomáš Pergler
  • Political correctness has morphed into an outright lie. Conservatively thinking people are at risk of a lynch by the media, Dominik Duka says
  • According to the head of the Czech Catholics, people don't have a genuine will to solve problems posed by terrorism and admit that we are in the state of war
  • He claims that foster parentship is a form of slavery
Cardinal Duka doesn't mince the words. When he talks about foster parents, he says that they're essentially slave owners. Conservative people are at risk of a modern form of the Inquisition which is why they prefer to escape from the public debate.

On the contrary, he has a favorable attitude to President Zeman. Zeman's critics inside the Church should act with the appreciation of Zeman's being the head of state.

Parliamentary elections are getting closer and we could hear proposals from various directions that the church restitutions should be revised. For example, the financial compensations could be taxed. What do you think about it?

If my reading of the programs was careful enough, only one party proposed such a thing and it was the communist party. More generally, such proposals are being raised by an individual politician. I don't believe that the voters are really interested in such a plan. According to the Median polls, only 3% of the voters are interested in the church restitutions. It's a bill that was backed even by the Constitutional Court. Also, we have treaties between the churches and the government. To revise this law would mean to kickstart a negotiation that could be very unpleasant for all the sides.

Will you encourage believers not to vote for parties that criticize e.g. the restitutions?

We will give no recommendations. After all, we have never done so. At most, we have pointed out some criteria and values in the programs of parties that shouldn't conflict with the church orthodoxy. We will urge the believers to pick according to their conscience. It wouldn't be acceptable for the people to vote according to an order. This view follows from the global decision of the church after the Second Vatican Council.

Good but let's look at ANO, the billionaire's movement, which is the clear frontrunner in the polls. Its chairman has invested to hospitals doing artificial impregnation that the Catholic Church refuses. His minister for regional development Ms Karla Šlechtová championed the nationalization of the church buildings within the Prague Castle complex. Aren't those issues that you should discuss?

Our principles are very clear. The believers know what is moral and what is immoral.

Concerning these topics, we are organizing e.g. events to support families.

However, we are not fighting against individuals or individual political parties.

It's certain that we must denounce the communist party, its program and its statements which are threats for our democracy.

While we're not satisfied with the artificial impregnation and other things, the church doesn't own the decisive voice here. These laws have made it through the Parliament of the Czech Republic.

We must keep on debating with experts who may explain to the plurality of the public why these things aren't good or right. But the elections are contests between political parties. We shouldn't participate in that contest.

This week, the government was supposed to discuss materials about a new sketch of the family policies. Ms Michaela Marksová, the minister of labor and welfare, had to immediately remove some proposals, e.g. the proposal that a woman could be artificially fertilized without the approval of her husband. Anyway, it's being expected that the proposal will be rejected.

According to many opinions, it's a pity because the Czech society is lagging behind some Western European countries when it comes to its views on these social entitlements. What's your view?

When I discuss the word "family", which in Czech ("rodina") is related to the verb "to give birth" ("rodit"), I must insist that this word cannot be associated with two men or two women.

And when people hire a woman as a mother, I think that they're getting somewhere beneath the level of a democratic society. They're drifting towards a society where the child has no rights at all. The human being is being downgraded to a tool. And the slavery was the system that defined a human being as a tool. The human rights don't mean that the people could be arbitrarily inventing what their rights are.

It's remarkable that the champions of the postmodern ideas say that the truth doesn't exist. At the same moment, when they declare the co-existence of two men or two women to be as good as a family, they suddenly claim to possess the truth. People with a conservative thinking find themselves in a difficult situation. They're surrounded by a contemporary Inquisition which isn't using the old medieval cruel punishments but it is employing media lynches which are nevertheless sufficient for a complete destruction of their foes. After such a lynch, the person is turned into an intellectual or moral ruin.

Your language seems to be emotional and strong – Inquisition, lynch. Who was in your view a victim of a media lynch?

These words are truthful. I live in a pluralistic society and I am a conservative man. And when I look at the Internet, I can see a young member of the Communist Party who boasts that if he possessed a Kalashnikov, he would shoot his opponent dead. The violent mentality is all around us. And a part of the people is really afraid of joining the public debate because people whose thinking is conservative are being exposed to similar attacks as they were during the communist dictatorship.

In fact, the very same vocabulary is being used. I remember my school years and all the slurs that were directed against me during communism – now the likes of me are targeted with the same slurs on the pages of the newspapers.

You often say that we shouldn't watch at the migration wave. So what should we be doing instead? What is the problem with the watching?

It's frequently said that the Czech Bishop Conference has announced that we won't accept a single migrant or we will only accept Christians. This is not true at all. The Conference has issued two statements in which it has quoted the Pope, too.

We have prepared about 482 centers where the migrants may be welcome. When we negotiated with the representatives of the state, however, we also said that our Charity of the Czech Republic is a guarantor for the acceptance of refugees from the former Soviet Union. The Czech Republic has accepted about half a million people during the recent 25 years. This number includes many Romani people from Slovakia who may also be said to have used the free movement of the people in the EU.

When it comes to the migration from the Middle East and Northern Africa, we had to say that we were unable to solve this issue by ourselves. A problem is the language barrier and security concerns, too. More than two-thirds of these people are coming with no documents at all and during the interviews or interrogations, it often turns out that they're not saying the truth. Moreover, we have pointed out that jihad has been declared by some groups.

There are more than 30 jihadist organizations. We know that they're sending masked workers whose task is to prepare the terrain.

Another issue is the trade with humans. There are numerous problems that make it necessary for the migration to be regulated and vetted. And we simply cannot irresponsibly accept people who won't be able to live good lives here. Some organizations sometimes claim that Europe needs 90 million workers. But it's not a fundamental problem.

What will happen? The economy of the whole countries from which these people escape will collapse while Europe will be exposed to a very strong social tension which will not only affect the economic output but will be a big burden that creates tensions in between us and ignites a blame game in which we will look for the people who can be blamed for everything.

So in your opinion, who is failing?

Look at the security situation: The question about the assassinations is just when the next one will take place. The situation in Europe isn't under control. In Nice and Paris, preventive policies have failed. However, I wouldn't blame the law enforcement forces.

The real problem is the absence of a political will to do something about it, to admit that the situation basically represents the state of war. Lots of things are being obscured instead. For example, we are saying that one of the European Union's greatest achievements is the Schengen free-movement area. However, the Schengen treaty doesn't apply in fact. On the border, we are actually being vetted and we are gradually losing the advantages of the union. Let us say the truth to the people. The political correctness has changed to obscurantism and sometimes to the pronouncement of outright lies.

You have a different relationship with the current president than your predecessor. However, the Catholic environment sometimes criticizes President Zeman strongly. Isn't it dividing the church?

I understand our country as a democratic one in which people are picking their representatives in the elections. And I am obliged to respect these representatives. At the end, a Christian believer is expected to respect and support the authority of the government whenever it is working for the common or shared good. And he should change the attitude when the shared good is under attack.

However, I don't see a problem of the kind that democracy would be threatened. Sure, there are things around us that aren't quite alright. For example, the government isn't paying enough money to defense. We have pledged to pay 2% of the GDP and we're not doing it. But I don't belong among the people who think that the president, the prime minister, or a minister should be blamed for everything.

I can't do politics. If I won't respect the institutions of a democratic country, I will be shooting into my foot.

OK, so does it mean that e.g. Prof Tomáš Halík shouldn't vigorously enter politics by strong critiques against the president?

Our job isn't to fight through the media. I must respect that priests and believers have the right to have different opinions. I am no absolute monarch.

But I must say that we should be constrained by the etiquette of politeness. The tools chosen to criticize the president should reflect his being the head of state. Our Christian ethics should help us. It knows some concepts that have sadly largely evaporated from the society. One of them is calumny or defamation. We should avoid it. I shouldn't strip the person whom I criticize of his dignity.

Sure, there are mistakes that the head of state sometimes does, I sometimes do mine, and even the Pope does his. No one is infallible. But the purpose of the criticism should never be a slander.

What do you think about President Zeman's plan not to award the late Cardinal Mr Miloslav Vlk, in memorian?

Let's start by assuming that every president has his criteria that decide who is going to be awarded. And if you are aware of the relationships between Zeman and my predecessor, you must understand why Zeman could prefer not to reward Vlk. Of course, I am pleased that the Parliament has proposed to award him.

He was older than me, had strong memories to the Nazi era, has lived through the whole communist era. In some of his later fights, however, he was arguably excessively vigorous. Everyone can explode at some moments, even I sometimes do, but it's always necessary to respect that the other person has a different opinion.

And concerning awards in general, I would like to say one thing: To be rewarded by Miloš Zeman has meant to undergo a media lynch for at least two years.

Would you be happy if the president were a practicing Catholic?

If he were a practicing Catholic, it wouldn't imply that he would be the best president. He could fail to be equipped in the political arts, sufficiently psychologically prepared to execute the role of the president.

For example, when the relationships between the government and the church were tense and negotiations were taking place deciding who would lead the church section at the Ministry of Culture, I was convinced that the optimal person has been a non-member of any church who was honorable, just, and familiar with the issues.

It's similar with the president. Moreover, a practicing Catholic would face the risk that he wouldn't be sufficiently separating the interests of the state and the church. The president should primarily be responsible for the good that is shared with the non-believers.

So who should be the next president?

Three Czech presidents so far, Havel, Klaus, and Zeman, have been born in the same "incubator", the top politics during the transformation era from the communist dictatorship to a free society. Today, the situation is completely different. The contemporary world is being transformed, the European Union faces the risk of dissolution, which would be a pity if that took place. But at the same moment, it is very clear that the European Union cannot keep on existing without a profound reform. The president will have to deal with all these facts, he will face difficult problems. It is hard to say which of the candidates is the best one for the current conditions.

Do you suggest that it's time for a new president?

No, I don't suggest that. It is so complicated that I will only pray so that the future president will genuinely succeed.

Dominik Duka (74)

The Archbishop of Prague and Cardinal was born as Jaroslav Duka in a family of a professional soldier. After the final high school "maturity" exam in 1960, he was prevented from further studies due to communist cadre reasons. He was trained as a locksmith for machines. In 1965, he was accepted to the Theological Faculty of Cyril and Methodius in Litoměřice. On January 5th, 1968, he secretly joined the Dominican Order and embraced the name Dominik. In 1975, he was stripped of his "state license for spiritual management" and he spent the following 15 years by drawing technical schemes in Škoda Pilsen. In 1981, he was charged with "undermining of the state supervision above the churches" and arrested for 15 months. In 1998, John Paul II named him the 24th Bishop of the town of Hradec Králové, in 2010, Benedict XVI appointed him the Archbishop of Prague. He became the cardinal two years later.

In another paragraph, the interview discussed when Pope Francis will arrive – maybe in 2022 because of a youth event. They remind you that Pope Francis and Dominik Duka have different opinions about the migration. Duka has mentioned that "by the way, the Pope has a very limited infallibility."

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