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Cablegate: Holy See Signs Accord with Czech Republic

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS VATICAN 003717

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EUR/NCE, DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PL RO LO BU EZ VT
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE SIGNS ACCORD WITH CZECH REPUBLIC

1. (SBU) THE HOLY SEE SIGNED A JURIDICAL ACCORD WITH THE
CZECH REPUBLIC JULY 25 REGULATING THE STATUS OF THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH. THE AGREEMENT, REACHED AFTER THREE YEARS
OF OCCASIONALLY DIFFICULT NEGOTIATIONS, GUARANTEES THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH FREEDOM TO CONDUCT ITS ACTIVITIES, IN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 VATICA 03717 291456Z
PARTICULAR WORSHIP, GOVERNMENT OF ITS JURISDICTIONS, AND
EDUCATION. IT ALSO RECOGNIZES THE CIVIL EFFECTS OF A
CHURCH MARRIAGE. THE CZECH GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES THE
CHURCH THE RIGHT TO OFFER PASTORAL CARE IN HOSPITALS,
SOCIAL CARE CENTERS AND PRISONS. CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WILL
HAVE THE SAME STATUS AS STATE INSTITUTIONS WITH
COMMENSURATE RIGHTS AND DUTIES. THE AGREEMENT DID NOT
ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF THE RESTITUTION OF CHURCH PROPERTY
EXPROPRIATED BY THE FORMERLY COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT BEYOND
HORTATORY LANGUAGE COMMITTING TO A RESOLUTION AT THE
EARLIEST POSSIBLE DATE.

2. (SBU) THE CZECH REPUBLIC IS ONE OF THE LAST EUROPEAN
COUNTRIES TO ENTER INTO SUCH A JURIDICAL AGREEMENT WITH
THE HOLY SEE. ACCORDING TO MONSIGNOR MICHAEL BANACH,
DESK OFFICER RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CZECH REPUBLIC, THE
NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN DIFFICULT, AND THE HOLY SEE
ULTIMATELY ACCEPTED LESS BINDING AND MORE NEUTRAL
LANGUAGE THAN THEY HAD SOUGHT IN SOME AREAS IN ORDER TO
ACHIEVE A TEXT ACCEPTABLE TO THE CABINET THAT WOULD HAVE
A CHANCE OF SECURING PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL. BECAUSE OF
ANTI-CLERICAL SENTIMENTS THAT STILL PREVAIL IN THE CZECH
REPUBLIC, THE HOLY SEE IS NOT CERTAIN HOW DIFFICULT
PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL IS LIKELY TO BE.

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3. (SBU) BANACH SAID THE HOLY SEE WAS PARTICULARLY
PLEASED WITH THE OFFICIAL RECOGNITION OF CATHOLIC
MARRIAGES AND THE RECOGNITION OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION ON A
PAR WITH THE STATE EDUCATION SYSTEM. HE NOTED THAT THE
CATHOLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM THE CZECH REPUBLIC HAD REMAINED
RELATIVELY STRONG, EVEN DURING THE COMMUNIST ERA.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 VATICA 03717 291456Z

4. (U) COMMENT: THE HOLY SEE HAS CONCLUDED SIMILAR
AGREEMENTS OR BROADER CONCORDATS WITH MOST COUNTRIES IN
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AS PART OF ITS EFFORTS TO
STRENGTHEN THE JURIDICAL FOUNDATION OF ITS PRESENCE
THROUGHOUT THE REGION. POLAND, WITH A COMPLETE CONCORDAT
IS THE FURTHEST ALONG, AND HUNGARY AND THE SLOVAK
REPUBLIC WITH A SERIES OF AGREEMENTS ARE ALSO FAR
ADVANCED. THE CZECH REPUBLIC AGREEMENT HAD BEEN THE MOST
DIFFICULT TO CONCLUDE WITHIN THE REGION. THE HOLY SEE
REGARDS AGREEMENTS WITH PREDOMINANTLY ORTHODOX ROMANIA AS
UNLIKELY IN THE NEAR FUTURE, WHILE AGREEMENTS WITH
BULGARIA ARE SEEN AS POSSIBLE BUT NOT IMMINENT.

HARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

>

2002VATICA03717 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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