Czech and long-time pro-Russian President Miloš Zeman has performed an unexpected and somewhat desperate somersault of opinion, calling his friend Putin a lunatic, hoisting the Ukrainian flag at Prague Castle, and planning to award Ukrainian President Zelensky the Czech Republic’s highest state honour, the Order of the White Lion. A number of leading Czech officials, including the presidents of both chambers of Parliament, the president of the Constitutional Court, and at least three university rectors, have announced that they will not attend the event of the awarding of state honours because of Zeman’s past warm relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and his frequent attempts to discredit Czech intelligence services warning of Russia’s hostile actions in the country.
Has our “favourite” Cardinal Dominik Duka woken up together with the President? Let us recall how, at the end of 2018, he responded to the question of whether or not he supported the arrival of fifty orphans – refugees from Syria – to the Czech Republic: “The Archbishop of Olomouc and the Charity of the Czech Republic are dealing with these matters. (…) I am unable to intervene in this debate on the merits.” “Yes, generally speaking, we all know that it is necessary to help those in need, but on the other hand, we also know that this is to some extent a political struggle these days. For that reason, I cannot answer.”
Czech Cardinal Dominic Duka has responded to the latest developments in the case of the accusations against Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who has been accused of neglecting to investigate four cases of sexual harassment of minors by the clergy while he was Archbishop of Munich. Such a reaction is not surprising, since Duka himself was the subject of a criminal complaint for abetting the perpetrators of sexual violence in the Dominican Order, which Duka led at the time. He called his defence of the Pope “Munich Betrayal for the Second Time”, which for some unfathomable reason equates the Munich Agreement with a cover-up of sexual abuse. Duka wants to call the Archbishop of Munich, his curia and the President of the German Bishops’ Conference “to account for the defamation and tarnishing of the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI”. Such a call for accountability at a time when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his letter, expresses his regret for the pain of victims of sexual abuse in the Church is downright chutzpah from a man with Duke’s past.
Recently there have been articles in the media about the fact that in the “atheistic” Czech Republic there are fewer believers who profess to belong to specific churches. This is based on the results of the 2021 census.
While in 1991 more than four and a half million people identified themselves as believers, twenty years later not even half of them were believers. The number of Czech citizens who claim to belong to a particular church is slightly lower than in the last census eleven years ago, but the number of those who identify themselves as believers but do not consider themselves part of a religious organization has increased by about a quarter of a million. Last year, over 1.3 million people subscribed to a faith, but of those 960,000 did not subscribe to any church.
Sociologist of religion Zdeněk R. Nešpor quite rightly points out that the methodology of the census has been different each time. “We are comparing numbers that look the same but are not the same. The old censuses, and even the censuses from the 1990s, are different from those from last year.”