Jiří Rajmund Tretera, Záboj Horák, State and Church in the Czech Republic in:

Gerhard Robbers (Ed.)

State and Church in the European Union, page 69 - 86

Third Edition

3. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8487-5472-4, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-9626-5,

Bibliographic information
State and Church in the Czech Republic Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák Social Facts The Czech Republic consists of the territories of three historic Czech (Bohemian) lands: Bohemia, Moravia and southern part of Silesia. Since the dissolution of the former Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993 it has been a unitary state using one legal system. The membership of religious communities1 is governed by their statutes. There is no State provision for the registration of members of religious communities. But religious communities as a whole are registered as a special type of legal person under Czech law. There are 41 registered religious communities in the Czech Republic (2019). About 80% of the members of religious communities belong to the Roman Catholic Church. According to the Czech Bishops’ Conference, 3,887,400 baptised Catholics live in the Czech Republic, out of a total number of 10,610,055 inhabitants (31 December 2017). The Roman Catholic Church is followed in size by the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, which developed from Catholic modernism and unites both Catholic and Protestant aspects of worship and teaching with the former Hussite tradition, and by the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, which unified the original Reformed and Lutheran Czech congregations. Each of these two churches has about 100,000 members. Almost 50,000 members belong to the two Orthodox Churches (larger Czech and smaller Russian). More than 30,000 members belong to three Lutheran Churches. Two of them are located in Eastern Silesia (Poles and Czechs), the third one, by origin Slovak, has dispersed their members and parishes on the whole territory of the Czech Republic. I. 1 The legal norms of the Czech Republic use the term Churches and religious societies, but there is no legal distinction between these terms. Their usage is a matter of their own choice. Some religious communities don’t use any of these terms in their registered name. 69 There is large number of religious communities in the Czech Republic with memberships between 5,000 and 20,000 people. All of them have a growing tendency in membership as well as parish congregations on the whole territory. To this group belong: the Religious Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Brethren (Evangelical Congregationalists), the Seventh Day Adventists, the Greek Catholic Church, the Apostolic (Pentecostal) Church, the Christian Fellowship (Pentecostal) Church, the Unity of the Brethren (Herrnhut/Moravian Brethren), Christian Congregations (Darbists), Baptists and Methodists. A large number of religious communities, which have between 300 and 5,000 members, were registered during last decades: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), (theosophical) Community of Christians, the Armenians, the Salvation Army and six churches from the Movement of Faith. The Jewish communities consist of rather over 3,000 members. Religious communities of Eastern spiritual provenance (Hare Krishna Movement, Czech Hindu Religious Society, Diamond Way Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, and Vishva Nirmala Dharma) have mostly Czech members. Small religious communities with old tradition are the Old Catholic Church, the New Apostolic Church and the Religious Society of Unitarians. The main stream of immigrants to the Czech Republic comes from Ukraine, Slovakia and Vietnam and many of them strengthen the number of members of the above mentioned religious communities. A small number of immigrants come from Islamic countries. Muslim communities continue to grow thanks to immigration, but relatively slowly. They number between 4,500 and 10,000 persons. The Centre of Islamic Communities in the Czech Republic was registered as a religious community in 2004. The Czech lands are frequently seen as a predominantly atheistic, or at least irreligious, territory, especially in journalistic and political reflections. However, sociological findings from 2006 and 2007 show that Czech society is becoming a society with a high degree of individualised and decentralised spirituality. Some sociologists point out a particular feature of the Czech character, noticeable in many important individuals since the National Revival in the 19th century, which is the so-called “timid godliness”. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 70 It is spirituality that is not manifested outwardly through any show or display.2 Historical Background A WestSlavonic settlement in the territory of the present Czech lands accepted Christianity under the influence of the Irish, Frankish and Greek- Slavonic missions during the 9th century in the Great Moravian Empire. The later Czech (Bohemian) Kingdom entered into a free union with the Holy Roman Empire. The Kingdom was, of course, a Roman Catholic State. But from the Hussite Reformation at the beginning of the 15th century there were two recognised denominations in the Kingdom: the Catholic minority and the Utraquist (Calixtin) majority. During the 16th century the Utraquist Church came under Lutheran Protestant influence. Recatholicisation after the Battle of White Mountain (1620) and the end of the Thirty Years War (1648) was connected with the victorious House of Habsburg. Protestantism was forbidden. The unification of the Czech lands with the Austrian and other hereditary Habsburg lands followed. The sovereign of this union appropriated the iura maiestica circa sacra. In this way the Catholic Church lost an essential part of its autonomy. Josef II published his Letter of Tolerance for his hereditary lands in 1781. 2% of the inhabitants of the Czech countries professed Protestantism: either the Helvetic Confession (the majority) or the Augsburg Confession. A process of emancipation of the Churches from the State started in 1848. In December 1867 a new liberal Constitution came into being for the western (Cisleithan) part of the dual AustriaHungary. The basis of this Constitution was a secularised State, based on the principle of cooperation with Churches and religious societies, and on their parity. The right to be recognised by the State was given to all religious communities which respected its legal demands (1874). The newly recognised religious communities3 could join in teaching religion in public schools and taking religious services in the army. The stipends of priests, ministers and rabbis were financed partly by the religious communities and partly by the State II. 2 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, Czech Republic, in Gerhard Robbers and Cole W. Durham (eds), Encyclopedia of Law and Religion, Volume 4, Europe, Leiden/Boston, 2016, p. 84. 3 E.g.: the Old Catholic Church (1877), and the Evangelical Church of Herrnhut – Moravian Brethren (1880). State and Church in the Czech Republic 71 (part of the congrua for Catholic and Orthodox churches and relevant subsidies for other churches and for communities of Jews). All acknowledged religious communities were supported by the State in proportion to the number of official declarations of religious affiliation made to the municipalities. The Republic of Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918 with the dissolution of the AustrianHungarian Empire, adopted the legislation of the both parts of the Habsburg monarchy. The Catholic Church was accused of having too close a relationship with the Habsburg dynasty. Approximately 10% of Czechs became nondenominational, 10% founded new Czechoslovak Church, 2% Catholics converted to Protestantism, increasing the number of Protestants among Czechs to almost 4%. 0.2 % Catholics converted to the newly founded Czech Orthodox Church. A total of 73% of the Czechs stayed in the Catholic Church. In 1927 a Modus Vivendi was concluded between the representatives of the Czechoslovak Government and the Apostolic See. It concerned the process of appointing diocesan bishops in Czechoslovakia. During the Nazi occupation of 1939–1945, Catholics in the Czech lands actively participated in the resistance and were persecuted. During 1945– 1948, democracy in Czechoslovakia was restored according to the doctrine of continuity of the legal order which was in force until 1938. All religious communities became popular. The number of students of theology was higher than ever. A radical change came after the Communist coup d'état in February 1948. All spheres of public life had to accept the “scientific”, i.e. the Marxist, ideology including atheism. In the years 1948–1989, atheism played the role of a State “religion”. Religious communities became the only alternatively thinking institutions whose existence was tolerated, albeit with many limitations. The ultimate aim of the regime was, of course, the entire liquidation of religious communities. All the land belonging to religious communities (forests and fields), an important source of their economic viability, was taken over by the State. Religious communities also lost all their rights for subsidies of patrons and other local legal entities for the maintenance of sacred buildings. New Acts establishing State control over the Churches came into force on November 1, 1949. That legislation brought obligatory but very low stipends, but only for certain group of clergy. Any religious activity of clergy or lay preachers needed State permission, which was granted only for a geographically limited territory. This State permission could be revoked Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 72 without explanation. Offences under this Act were punishable with imprisonment according to the provisions of the Penal Codes of 1950 and 1961. Obligatory civil marriage was established in January 1950 for the first time in the history of the Czech lands. In April 1950 all the monasteries were seized and the brothers interned without legal justification in concentration camps. Later they were sent to forced labour units of the Czechoslovak People’s Army for three or four years and then dispersed as workers principally in agriculture, forests and mines. Sisters from convents were sent to camps in the remote border regions and were obliged to work in factories. They were not allowed to admit novices, with a short break during 1968–1971. This state of affairs lasted until 1989. In 1948–1950 all schools of religious communities on primary and secondary level were abolished and this lasted till 1990. All theological schools and seminaries were abolished, with exception of three State theological schools (for Catholics, for Protestants, for the Czechoslovak Church) with a limited number of admissions. Almost all the Catholic bishops were imprisoned or interned. Only at the time of the Prague Spring liberalisation in 1968 and for some months after the Soviet occupation on 21 August 1968 could bishops discharge their functions, and religious sisters admit a number of novices. Numbers of children attending the voluntary religious education classes increased. Monks began to work underground. However, from 1971 the persecution of religious communities was revived. All religious communities, especially the Catholic Church, became symbols of resistance during the Communist regime. They were respected by all dissidents. On 17 November 1989, the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Czech universities by the Nazis, communist police brutally interrupted the students' commemorative procession in Prague. The events, later called the Velvet Revolution, were followed by the whole of Czechoslovakia. 10th December 1989 may be called a day of upheaval. On that day the last Communist president appointed a noncommunist government. The following day he resigned. Parliament repealed the legal enactments that were contrary to human rights. In January 1990 the legal provision allowing State interference in the appointment of clergy, preachers and all Churches’ employees was repealed. State and Church in the Czech Republic 73 The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, passed by the Parliament of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (CSFR) on 9th January 1991, confirmed this principle. On its foundations was built Federal Act No. 308/1991 dealing with the freedom of religion and the status of Churches and religious societies. The time of its validity in the Czech territory (1991–2002) may be considered as the foremost period of religious freedom in history. The legal order of the Czech Republic, founded on 1 January 1993 as an independent State, has incorporated the principles of the law on religion of the CSFR. But new legislation, Act No. 3/2002, has limited some of the rights of religious communities. Some common rights of all religious communities were declared as special rights and granted to only some them. On the other hand the new Act reduced the obligatory minimum membership required of registered religious communities to 300 people. It made possible an increase in the number of registered religious communities from 21 (2002) to 41 (2019). But the requirements, which must be fulfilled for acquiring the so-called special rights, are so severe that no of newly registered religious community has obtained them till now. Legal Sources The Czech legal system, as it concerns religious communities has four layers: constitutional law; international agreements; internal State law; and ChurchState Agreements. Czech constitutional law consists of the Constitution of the Czech Republic (Constitutional Act No. 1/1993), the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Federal Act No. 23/1991) and other constitutional laws. The Charter was republished in the Czech Republic under No. 2/1993, and may be deemed a second part of the Constitution. The Charter contains, especially in Articles 15 and 16, the most important constitutional provisions in Czech law on religion. These articles read: Article 15 1. The freedom of thought, conscience, and religious conviction is guaranteed. Everyone has the right to change his or her religion or faith or to have no religious conviction. 2. The freedom of scholarly research and of artistic creation is guaranteed. III. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 74 3. No one may be compelled to perform military service if such is contrary to his conscience or religious conviction. Detailed provisions shall be laid down in a law. Article 16 1. Everyone has the right to freely manifest his or her religion or faith, either alone or in community with others, in private or public, through teaching, practice, or observance. 2. Churches and religious societies govern their own affairs; in particular, they establish their own bodies and appoint their clergy, as well as found religious orders and other church institutions, independent of state authorities. 3. The conditions under which religious education is provided at state schools shall be set by statutes. 4. The exercise of these rights may be limited by law in the case of measures necessary in a democratic society for the protection of public safety and order, health and morals, or the rights and freedoms of others. In addition, Article 17 of the Charter (the freedom of expression), Article 19 (the right to assemble), and Article 20 (the right to associate) may also be mentioned as implicitly protecting the freedom of religion. According to Article 10 of the Constitution, international agreements, the ratification of which has been approved by Parliament and which are binding on the Czech Republic, constitute a part of the Czech legal order; should an international agreement make a provision contrary to Czech law, the international agreement is to be applied. The Czech Republic is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) of 1950, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. Between 2000 and 2002 representatives of the Czech Republic and the Apostolic See prepared an international agreement which was signed by them in July 2002. But the House of Deputies of Parliament voted by 110 votes to 90 not to recommend its ratification. The third part of the Czech legal hierarchy consists of laws. Specialized regulations regarding religion include Act No. 3/2002 on Religious Communities and Act No. 428/2012, on the Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies. The remaining provisions on religion are dispersed in various laws, decrees and administrative regulations. The laws are supplemented by domestic agreements between government bodies and religious communities or their representatives (Czech State and Church in the Czech Republic 75 Bishops’ Conference and the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic) on the engagement of religious communities in special spiritual care. The agreements concern: a) service of military chaplains (1998, 2012), b) service of prison chaplains (the last one from 2013), c) cooperation in public radio (1999), d) spiritual service in the system of posttraumatic interventions to help the police, firemen and victims of crimes and disasters (2011), in force until 2014, e) chaplaincy in hospitals (2019), based on the existing agreement between the Czech Bishops’ Conference and the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic of 2011. Basic Categories of the System The Czech Republic is a state in which the principles of non-identification with any religion or ideology, of neutrality, of parity, and of the autonomy of religious communities have been applied. The State collaborates with religious communities in many areas. We may describe it as a cooperative model of secular state. A regime of complete (strict) separation of religious communities and the State has never existed in the Czech territory. The application of the principle that the State does not identify with a sole ideology is first and foremost a reaction to the previous regime. A level of identification of the State with the Marxist-Leninist ideology was so high in the time of the Communist dictatorship (1948–1989) that the persecution of religious communities and people of faith can be classified as one of the most severe in the entire Communist bloc. No state religion exists in the Czech Republic nowadays, nor any legal definition of religion.4 The common participation of representatives of State and religious communities on national and memorial ceremonies is acceptable and in practice usual. State representatives voluntarily take part in religious ceremonies on these occasions. They are usually organised on an ecumenical IV. 4 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, Czech Republic, in Gerhard Robbers and Cole W. Durham (eds), Encyclopedia of Law and Religion, Volume 4, Europe, Leiden/Boston, 2016, p. 87. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 76 basis. Representatives of religious communities (principally all of main Christian denominations and Jews) are often invited to the secular ceremonies. On the occasion of a funeral of the representatives of the Czech State can participate religious leaders according to wish of the deceased and the family. All these acts are expressions of peace in the society and respect to religious faith of individual citizens. Legal Status of Religious Communities Particular religious communities can exist having no legal form. There is no duty to be registered. Should they need to act publicly, for example in order to lease a chapel, they are represented by an individual. In the Czech Republic, we must first distinguish between religious entities per se and other ‘derived’ religious entities deriving their legal personality from those religious entities (such as parishes, dioceses, monasteries, lay, clerical and mixed organizations, charities, and diaconal organisations). Religious communities acquire legal personality through state registration in a special register administered by the Ministry of Culture. Up to the present time (2019), 41 religious communities have been registered in the Czech Republic, and no registration has so far ever been revoked. Derived legal persons gain legal personality by their creation by a registered religious community in compliance with the regulations set forth by the founding community. The derived legal persons are recorded in another register, also administered by the Ministry of Culture, only upon the request of the religious community that founded them. The registered religious communities in the Czech Republic can associate into unions of religious communities. These unions obtain legal personality upon state registration in a special register (i.e. the third register of such a type administered by the Ministry of Culture). The unions do not have the right to establish other legal persons. There are only two such registered unions at present: the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic (with eleven ordinary members, one associated member and five observers)5 and the Military Spiritual Service (with five members). V. 5 The Roman Catholic Church is an associated member of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, The SeventhDay Adventists Church, the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, the Salvation Army, Christian Fellowship Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church AC in the Czech Republic are observers. State and Church in the Czech Republic 77 Act No. 3/2002 made it possible for a much wider range of religious communities to gain registration by a reduction of the condition as to size from 10,000 adult believers to 300 adult believers. Newly registered religious communities acquire basic legal personality, certain tax advantages, and the right to found derived legal persons. Religious communities that were registered before Act No. 3/2002 came into force could enjoy the so-called “special rights”, if they enjoyed them before. Newly registered religious communities can acquire special rights ten years after their registration if they fulfil additional legal prerequisites: having a number of adult members at least equal to 0.1% of the residents of the Czech Republic, having published an annual financial report during the last ten years, and having duly fulfilled obligations. According to the Act No. 3/2002, special rights include teaching religion in public schools, founding church schools, pastoral care in prisons and the army, the right to celebrate marriages with civil effects, and maintaining confessional confidentiality if the religious community proves that such confidentiality has been practised for at least 50 years. Not all religious communities registered with special rights enjoy all of them. Religious Communities within the Political System The position of religious communities within the political system has several aspects. As for political parties, the religious influence comes expressly into play, at a general Christian level, in the Christian and Democratic Union – the Czechoslovak People’s Party. The party is not connected with any particular religion. A variety of religious communities exercise their influence therein through individuals who are their members. Sometimes, there are groups in certain other political parties formed by church members, usually designated as a Christian platform, which inform other members of the respective party of the social opinions of religious communities. Integrating organisations which publicly express the opinions of religious communities on political and public issues are the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic and the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic. Although they express their opinions independent of one another in certain cases, they frequently act jointly. Individual religious communities, or rather their chief bodies, also release their statements on political and public issues in the Czech Republic VI. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 78 and abroad. A great deal of activity in this respect is performed by the Synodal Council of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. Owing to the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of religious communities in the Czech Republic, neither a state authority nor a self-governing body is allowed to interfere in either the internal issues or the teachings of any religious community. Neither political parties nor civil associations do so. An example of the position of religious communities within the political system is provided by the negotiations in 2010–2011, upon the initiative of the Czech government as the sponsor of legislation, with representatives of seventeen religious communities that were, after the coup in February 1948, dispossessed of the property securing their activity. The negotiations concerned the preparation of a bill regarding the property settlement between the State and those religious communities, and were initiated by the government at the instigation by the Constitutional Court, which had declared in several judgments a duty of the legislator to adopt a restitution act, meeting thereby legitimate expectations of religious communities in relation to their historical property.Representatives of the government and the seventeen religious communities reached an agreement on partial property settlement between the State and religious communities on 25 August 2011.6 The outcomes of the negotiations were incorporated into the bill that was finally passed into law by the Parliament of the Czech Republic on 8 November 2012 as Act No. 428/2012, on the Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies.7 Representatives of the government and the seventeen religious communities reached an agreement on partial property settlement between the State and religious communities on 25 August 2011.8 The outcomes of the negotiations were incorporated into the bill that was finally passed into law by the Parliament of the Czech Republic on 8 November 2012 as Act No. 428/2012, on the Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies.9 6 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, The Mutual Roles of Religion and State in Czech Republic, in Balázs Schanda (ed), The Mutual Roles of Religion and State in Europe, Trier, 2013, p. 41. 7 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, Religion and Law in the Czech Republic, Second edition, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2017, p. 75–79. 8 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, The Mutual Roles of Religion and State in Czech Republic, in Balázs Schanda (ed), The Mutual Roles of Religion and State in Europe, Trier, 2013, p. 41. 9 J. R. Tretera/Z. Horák, Religion and Law in the Czech Republic, Second edition, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2017, p. 75–79. State and Church in the Czech Republic 79 Culture Church Public and Private Schools: Organization It is possible to divide Czech primary and secondary schools into three categories: 1. Public schools: the majority of all schools, established by municipalities and regional authorities or exceptionally by the State (Ministry of Education), 2. Schools established by a religious community (national centres, dioceses, orders, parishes), 3. Private schools: schools established by an individual or by a legal entity of private law. All schools must be registered by the Ministry of Education. Religious schools were abolished in 1950; in June 1990 permission to found new religious schools was reinstated. Religious schools are not the same as private schools. Religious school costs are mostly met by the State; their founder (a religious entity) usually gives a building and appoints the director of the school. As far as the students are concerned, they are admitted on the results of admission tests, not by reference to their confession, on which they are not questioned. The same applies to teachers. Religious schools enjoy great popularity in Czech society.10 Church Higher Schools Religious communities have founded eleven higher schools11 providing theological and other special education. These schools accept as students those who have passed the school leaving examination at Czech grammar schools. Thus, their character is close to that of universities but their students do not obtain academic degrees. These schools prepare students for the teaching of religion, for social work, for pastoral assistance and for jobs in journalism. VII. 1. 2. 10 Now there are 140 religious schools, 70% are Catholic. The number of them increases a little every year. 11 The Catholic Church has founded five and Protestant churches six higher schools in the Czech Republic. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 80 Religious Education Religious communities have the right to organise religious classes as a nonobligatory subject at all public schools under condition that at least seven students from the school apply for it. Teachers need to be authorised by the religious community but the school pays them. All students may attend religious education classes, regardless to their religious adherence. Theological Faculties at Public Universities Contemporary Czech law considers universities to be free autonomous institutions. They may be founded by State or by private bodies. Religious communities are permitted to establish only private universities. They have not yet used this right. There are currently five theological faculties in the Czech Republic within public universities: three at the Charles University in Prague (Catholic, Protestant and Hussite), and two Catholic theological faculties at other universities (in Olomouc and České Budějovice). Broadcasting The participation of religious communities in the broadcasting of the public Czech Radio is provided under the 1999 Agreement mentioned above. Proglas, a private radio station supported by Catholic Church with a Catholic priest as director, is very popular. The Church of the SeventhDay Adventists has established a private radio station, The Voice of Hope. Noe, a private Christian TV station with a Catholic priest as director, is supported by several religious communities and particular believers as private persons. Czech public television has introduced religious programming every Sunday afternoon. The Holy Mass and services of many religious communities are regularly broadcasted by radio or TV. Labour Law within the Religious Communities A decision of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic of 26 March 1997 rejected the jurisdiction of the secular courts in disputes concerning 3. 4. 5. VIII. State and Church in the Czech Republic 81 the termination of a service relationship involving members of the clergy. In 2001 the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg confirmed this decision. The employment of clergy and other pastoral employees of religious communities (even lay pastoral assistants) is ruled by their internal law (Church law, canon law); conflicts are dealt with by their own courts and other authorities. If there is no rule of a religious community available, it is necessary to use State rules as a subsidiary source of law. The employment of nonpastoral employees is ruled by secular law, namely the Labour Code (2006). Legal Status of Clergy and Members of Religious Orders The legal status of clergy and members of religious orders does not differ from the legal status of other citizens, including the right to vote. The power of the State to recognise religious names was not put into force, but all citizens can change their names. In July 2001 the new Act entered into force, which enables citizens to enter two first names in their personal documents. Many religious have used this possibility and asked for recognition of their religious name as the second first name. As far as the right of succession is concerned, clergy and religious have the same testamentary freedom as other citizens. Finances of Religious Communities In the Czech Republic, religious communities are financed from several sources. They are as follows: revenues from collections during and outside church services, regular contributions and occasional donations by members as well as donations by other private entities, dues paid to religious communities by their members in compliance with the internal rules of the communities, inheritance and endowments, proceeds from property (estates and financial assets) acquired by religious communities in fulfilment under Act No. 428/2012, on the Property Settlement with Churches and Religious Societies. That Act makes possible partial restitution and effects a financial settlement between the State and religious communities. Further, it introduces an interim provision of allowances to promote the activity of affected religious communities in place of state subsidies for salaries of the clergy for- IX. X. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 82 merly provided by the State. As for the partial restitution, certain agricultural and forest estates as well as certain property that the religious communities were dispossessed of in the period from 25 February 1948 to 1 January 1990 are to be returned to the ownership of the religious communities, providing they made a claim thereto with the state property administrators, who administered those assets until 2 January 2014, and adduced evidence of their original ownership. The claims have already been raised by religious communities. A more significant part of property settlement is to consist of financial compensation for damages suffered, which is precisely quantified and allotted to individual affected religious communities in Act No. 428/2012. That compensation is to be paid by the State in 30 consecutive yearly instalments. The third part of the property settlement is the temporary allowance to promote the activity of affected religious communities in substitution for the state subsidies for salaries of the clergy. This allowance is to be paid by the State for a transitional period of 17 years. In terms of the amount, it is, for the first three years, correspond to the amount paid to the affected religious communities in 2011. From the fourth year of the transitional period, the amount of the allowance is to be annually decreased by 5% of the sum paid out in the first year of the transitional period. Religious Assistance in Public Institutions Religious communities that acquired the special right to provide pastoral care in prisons and the army according to Act No. 3/2002 propose prison chaplains and military chaplains. According to the agreements concluded between the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, the Czech Bishops’ Conference, and the appropriate state body, they provide this care on the basis of the collective proposal of all religious communities that are parties to the agreement. Prison chaplains and military chaplains are employees of the State. A large number of volunteers, members of a special civic ecumenical organisation, share in the pastoral service in prisons. They can be members of a religious community even if it does not have the special right and even if it is not registered. Religious assistance in hospitals is to be provided under the Act of 2011. XI. State and Church in the Czech Republic 83 Matrimonial and Family Law Since 1992 there has been a free choice between the civil form and the religious form of marriage before religious communities registered in the Czech Republic. Since the liberalisation of the registration of religious communities by Act No. 3/2002 such right belongs only to religious communities that acquired the special right to celebrate marriages with civil effects. Those intending to marry before a religious community with civil effects have the duty to submit to the wedding minister a certificate issued by the state register office which confirms that there are no impediments in Czech civil law to their marriage. The wedding minister is obliged to deliver within three working days a record of the solemnisation of the marriage to the registry in whose administrative district the marriage was entered into. Publicly valid documents of the solemnisation of marriage will be issued by the registry. Membership of a religious community, as far as adolescents are concerned, depends on the wishes of their parents (or legal guardians) and their own choice. Czech religion law follows in this respect the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The attendance of children at religious education in schools has been resolved in the same way. Criminal Law and Religion According to the Czech Penal Code the defamation of religion and hate speech against believers and non-believers is a criminal offence. There is no legal provision for the punishment of blasphemy in this Code. The State recognises the right to maintain the confessional confidentiality of ministers of religious communities registered with such a special right. A religious community can obtain this right only if it has been a traditional practice of that religious community for at least fifty years. XIV. Major Developments and Trends The main current task is the regulation of chaplaincy in hospitals. Religious communities prepared all the necessary conditions in their common agreements and the state legislator adopted Act No. 372/2011, on Healthcare Services and Conditions for Providing Them. But its implementation depends on negotiations between the local bodies of religious communities and the owners of hospitals. Their operation depends on further regulations by the Ministry of Healthcare. XII. XIII. Jiří Rajmund Tretera and Záboj Horák 84 The second task is the question of possible changing of the Act No. 3/2002, on Religious Communities or its replacement by a new Act. The changes should concern especially so called special rights of religious communities. The third task is the swift completion of the court proceedings concerning the property settlement between State and religious communities. The fourth, more remote task, is the replacement of the text of the nonratified concordat by new one and its ratification by the Parliament. XV. Bibliography The essential works are: Jiří Rajmund Tretera/Záboj Horák, Religion and Law in the Czech Republic, Second edition, Alphen aan den Rijn, 2017, 128 p. Jiří Rajmund Tretera/Záboj Horák, Czech Republic, in Gerhard Robbers and Cole W. Durham (eds), Encyclopedia of Law and Religion, Volume 4, Europe, Leiden/ Boston, 2016, p. 84–91. Other sources are : Záboj Horák, Církve a české školství [Churches and the Czech Educational System], Prague, 2011, 264 p. Jakub Kříž, Zákon o církvích a náboženských společnostech. Komentář [Act on Churches and Religious Societies. A Commentary], Prague, 2011, 360 p. Richard Potz et al. (eds.), Recht und Religion in Mittel- und Osteuropa, Band 2: Tschechien, Vienna, 2004, 176 p. Stanislav Přibyl, Tschechisches Staatskirchenrecht nach 1989, Brno, 2010, 167 p. Jiří Rajmund Tretera, Church Autonomy in the Czech Republic, in: Robbers, Gerhard (ed.), Church Autonomy, A Comparative Survey, Frankfurt a/M., 2001, p. 633–644. Jiří Rajmund Tretera, Systems of Relations Between the State and Churches in General and Their Occurrence in the Czech Lands in Particular, in: Many Cultures, Many Faces, Monsignor W. Onclin Chair, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2002, p. 31–56. Jiří Rajmund Tretera, Die jüngsten Rechtsfragen des tschechischen Religionsrechts, in: Österreichisches Archiv für Recht und Religion, Heft 2, Wien, 2002, p. 230– 238. Periodicals Revue církevního práva – Church Law Review, Prague. State and Church in the Czech Republic 85

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Churches as essential components of European culture have major significance for European integration. A Europe, bound by common constitutional traditions, cultures and traditions of its Member States, their national identity and the principle of subsidiarity, will have to respect the deep-rooted systems of State and Church relationships in its Member States.

The volume presents in its second edition a broad comparison of different systems of State and Church relationships in the Member States of the European Union. It includes the new Member States and gives an account of the new developments throughout Europe. The volume shows the implications of European integration on the position of the Churches. It is of interest to all working in the field of State-Church relationship as well as to public and church institutions.

The volume has been produced in association with the European Consortium for State-Church Research. The authors are experts in the field from the different Member States of the European Union, presenting the relevant systems of their home countries. The editor is professor for public law at the University of Trier and head of the Research Centre for European Constitutional Law.


Im Prozess der europäischen Einigung kommt den Kirchen als wesentlicher Bestandteil der europäischen Kultur eine besondere Bedeutung zu. Ein Europa, das den gemeinsamen Verfassungsüberlieferungen, den Traditionen und Kulturen der Mitgliedstaaten, ihrer nationalen Identität und dem Grundsatz der Subsidiarität verpflichtet ist, wird das gewachsene Staatskirchenrecht seiner Mitgliedstaaten zu respektieren haben.

Die 2. Auflage bietet einen umfassenden Vergleich der unterschiedlichen staatskirchenrechtlichen Systeme in den Mitgliedstaaten der Europäischen Union. Der Sammelband berücksichtigt auch die neuen Mitgliedsländer und beschreibt europaweite Entwicklungen. Er macht deutlich, wie sich die europäische Integration auf die Stellung der Kirchen auswirkt. Das Werk ist für jeden, der im Staatskirchenrecht arbeitet, aber auch für staatliche und kirchliche Institutionen von Interesse.

Das Buch ist in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Europäischen Konsortium für Staat-Kirche-Forschung entstanden. Die Autoren, führende Staatskirchenrechtler aus den verschiedenen Mitgliedstaaten der EU, erläutern die religionsverfassungsrechtlichen Systeme ihrer Heimatländer. Der Herausgeber ist Professor für öffentliches Recht an der Universität Trier und Leiter der Forschungsstelle für Europäisches Verfassungsrecht.