Monday, 22 October 2018

Právo: Tomáš Halík criticises Cardinal Duka over award

ČTK |
1 November 2016

Prague, Oct 31 (CTK) - Tomas Halik, Czech prominent Catholic priest, professor and the prestigious Templeton Prize holder, has once again lashed out at Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, daily Pravo writes on Monday, referring to his comments on Duka's acceptance of the highest state award from President Milos Zeman.

"On the October 28 national holiday, when Milos Zeman was bestowing a medal on Dominik Duka for his support for Milos Zeman, I remembered the words a former pope commented on the death of Cardinal Richelieu. He said if God exists, the cardinal will probably have a lot to explain to him; if God does not exist, the cardinal did his job perfectly," Halik told Pravo when asked to comment on the bestowing of the Order of the White Lion on Duka.

"I think that both Cardinal Beran and Cardinal Tomasek, who bravely stood up against immoral power at the end of his life, must be turning over in their graves. I am grateful to the church dignitaries who shunned the October 28 celebrations at Prague Castle to make it clear what they think about Milos Zeman," Halik told Pravo.

He evidently alluded to the controversy Zeman caused by not bestowing an award on Holocaust survivor Jiri Brady, allegedly in reaction to a meeting Brady's relative, Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), had with the Tibetan Dalai Lama in Prague on October 18.

Cardinal Josef Beran (1888-1969), Prague archbishop and Czech Catholic primate in 1946-1969, was persecuted by the Nazi and communist regimes and he spent the last years of his life in exile in Rome.

Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek (1899-1992) was Prague archbishop and Czech Catholic primate from 1977 to 1991.

"I would be ashamed to accept an award from Milos Zeman. However, Cardinal Duka seems to have got on a train he will never have the courage to leave. This makes me sorry," Halik said.

Duka, for his part, expressed joy at being awarded.

"It means an appreciation of the work the [Catholic] Church has been doing in this country. I feel I do not fully deserve it, unlike the old fighters I can see here," he told Czech Television on the sidelines of the award-giving ceremony, referring to four WWII veterans who, too, received the top state award from Zeman.

Duka, Vaclav Havel's fellow inmate in a communist prison, stands close to Zeman, Pravo writes.

Last year, Duka celebrated a mass for Zeman and the homeland in the presidential chateau in Lany, central Bohemia.

Some time ago, Zeman and Duka also struck agreement on what buildings in the Prague Castle complex, the presidential seat, will be returned to the Church under the restitution law.

On the other hand, there has been long-lasting tension between Duka and Halik, a popular priest, thinker and university professor. Halik previously reproached Duka for "making overtures to power" and described the Christianity represented by Duka as "a decorative oleander of power," Pravo writes.

In 2014, Halik became the first Czech holder of the Templeton Prize, an annual international award the Templeton Foundation bestows on living persons for their exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension through insight, discovery or practical works.

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