The Vatican/Prague - Pope Francis met a delegation of Czech bishops headed by Cardinal Dominik Duka in the Vatican today and they talked about church activities and its property, Ondrej Mlecka, from the Czech Bishops´ Conference, told CTK.
Papež František (vpravo) přijal 14. února ve Vatikánu delegaci českých a moravských biskupů, kterou vede kardinál Dominik Duka (vlevo). ČTK L'Osservatore Romano
This has been the first official meeting of the Czech bishops and Pope Francis since he took his office in March 2013.
The pope welcomed the Czech bishops already on Wednesday.
Francis gave his blessing to thousands of engaged couples in St Peter´s Square on the St Valentine´s Day today.
In his speech today he said, among others, the Catholic Church should use its property exclusively for its spiritual mission. He said the church property should be administered in a prudent, transparent way.
Under a law on the property settlement between the Czech state and churches that took effect in January 2013, Czech churches are to be returned land and real estate, confiscated from them by the communist regime, worth 75 billion and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. The largest sum, 47 billion crowns, would go to the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The new Czech centre-left government would like to lower the compensation and set several other conditions related to the use of the property.
The previous meeting between Czech bishops and the pope was held in 2005.
The dignitaries of Czech Roman Catholic Church will stay in Rome until February 17.
This evening, a mass marking the 1145th dead anniversary of St Cyril, one of the missionaries who brought Christianity to Czech lands, will be organised in the St Clement Basilica in Rome. St Cyril was buried in the basilica.