02VATICAN3717 / 2002-07-29 14:50:00
Embassy Vatican
                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. 
 
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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