Czech Republic: Roman Catholic Church makes more than 11 000 restitution requests

The Roman Catholic Church has filed more than 11 000 claims for the return of confiscated property, after the authorities pledged to give back tens of billions of crowns worth of land and buildings. The claims are thought to constitute a majority of those made as part of the government’s restitution plan, under which it intends to hand 134 billion Kč in property and compensation to 16 religious organizations.

Parliament passed a bill November 2012 giving the green light to the restitution and this law, which came into effect January, was upheld by a constitutional court in Brno in June. While applauded by religious organizations, the plans to return 75 billion Kč worth of property and pay out, over three decades, 59 billion Kč in compensation for unreturned property have come up against opposition from campaigners who say the handover will result in corruption.

Organizations have been given a year to make requests for the return of land or property, although determining what actually should be given back is likely to prove a complex process.

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(Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, seen in a file photo, says the return of church property would allow the organization to set up schools and hospices. Photo: Walter Novak)