Czech Draft Doesn't Deal with Return of Church Property

PRAGUE, Czech Republic, JULY 5, 2002 ( The Czech government approved the draft of an agreement on the state’s relations with the Vatican, as well as on the Catholic Church’s position in the republic, says Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal.

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However, the text does not resolve the delicate issue of restitution to the Catholic Church of property confiscated by the former Communist regime, Dostal explained.

According to the draft approved Wednesday, the two sides must work to find a «rapid and mutually acceptable solution» to this problem, the Minister of Culture added.

The text respects the existing equality of religious and civil marriages, despite the draft of the Social-Democratic executive that sought to favor civil marriages, Dostal pointed out.

The text still requires ratification by Parliament and approval by President Vaclav Havel in order to take effect, Dostal clarified.

The Czech Republic has a population of 10.3 million inhabitants, some 4 million of whom are baptized Catholics. However, religious practice is among the lowest in the world. The republic is one of the last European countries to come to an agreement of this nature with the Vatican.

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