Friday, 23 August 2019

Group of Catholics urge Pope not to extend Duka's tenure

13 February 2018

Prague, Feb 12 (CTK) - A group of Czech Catholics have urged Pope Francis not to prolong Cardinal Dominik Duka's tenure as the Archbishop of Prague, also due to what they call nationalist tendencies of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic under Duka, Jan Bierhanzl, one of the signatories, has told CTK.

Duka will turn 75 in April, the age at which all Catholic bishops are obliged to submit their resignation. The Pope may decide to extend their mandate, which, however, some Czech believers do not wish to happen in the case of Duka, Bierhanzl said.

In their letter, the group of Catholics urge the Pope to choose a new archbishop of Prague.

They plan to publish the full wording of their letter at a meeting to take place in front of the Archbishop's Palace at 10:00 on Wednesday, organised by a group of Catholic laymen.

"For now, the letter has been signed by 100 laymen and it has been delivered to the Vatican. Some priests support us as well," Bierhanzl said.

Duka's predecessor in the post, Miloslav Vlk, handed in his resignation after turning 75, but the Pope Benedict XVI prolonged his mandate by two years in 2007.

Duka sometimes comes under the criticism of mainly young Catholic believers for some his opinions and for what his critics describe as his excessive adherence to some politicians.

Duka has long-lasting good relations with President Milos Zeman. He was one of few Czech Catholic dignitaries to congratulate Zeman on his recent re-election.

In 2016, Duka and Zeman struck an agreement on a property settlement between the Catholic Church and the Prague Castle complex where the Presidential Office is seated. Later in 2016, Zeman bestowed the highest state award, the Order of the White Lion, on Duka.

Some believers criticised the divine service for the state representatives, which Duka celebrated at the presidential chateau in Lany, central Bohemia, in November 2015. Several dozens of people reacted by an open letter criticising what they called a symbolical link between the Catholic Church and the Presidential Office and calling Duka's step a political calculation. The Prague Archbishopric dismissed the criticism.

Duka has also been criticised by the LGBT community, which reproaches Duka for viewing its members a threat to the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, Duka has never made such a declaration.

Other critics mind Duka's statement that refugees should find courage to return to their countries of origin.

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