ČSSD: 10 reasons why vote against the government’s church property settlement plan
The Social Democrats adamantly oppose the plan of the Nečas government for property settlement with the churches which it is pushing through in spite of a substantial resistance of the majority of the citizens of the Czech Republic, and without agreement with the opposition, for its unfairness, lack of conception and high risks it poses for the state. In the current complicated economic situation we consider the release of property worth more than 80 billion crowns plus financial compensation in the amount of 60 billion crowns quite misplaced and grossly damaging to our country.
This is why ČSSD says to the government plan a clear NO!
The Social Democrats put forward 10 principal reasons against the Nečas government’s plan for property settlement with the churches:
It poses the risk that the inviolable restitution cut-off date under the Beneš decrees would be changed, which could change fundamentally the state’s legal position in new court disputes involving restitution claims.
It would give the church a unilateral and unwarranted advantage over all other groups of restituents. This approach is unjust and would cause legal inequality among the restituents. By this step the state would harm hundreds of thousands of individuals and legal entities whom it had treated with much less generosity.
It would allow a foreign state, the Vatican, with which we still do not have regular relations, to become the biggest landowner in the Czech Republic.
It would allow release of property whose quantity is unknown. Not even the Nečas government which advocates so much its release is able to quantify the property. There is a significant risk that property to which the church would not be entitled after the preceding reforms would be released.
High compensations in money are to be paid for properties whose indisputable ownership by the church has not been proved.
The amount of compensations in money for churches is based on highly questionable (overvalued) estimates and total ignorance of the pricing regulations.
In time of the current economic crisis it would increase the indebtedness of the Czech state by another 1.5 % of the GDP, at a time when the Czech economy is in recession.
It would change in the long term the political balance of power in the country in favour of conservative forces. It would change in part the character of the Czech state, threatening its civic and non-confessional nature.
It completely ignores the fact that the use of the property and the proceeds from it was always tied by churches and religious societies to a specific purpose (for pastoral, educational, social and healthcare services) and was regulated by law under state supervision. This would now be done away with. Most of the functions that churches used to carry out are performed and paid for by the public sector today.
It afflicts and encumbers the most the generations that have nothing in common with the problem, have not caused it and have not profited from it in any way (the financial compensations concern the next 30 years).
ČSSD puts forward its own fairer solution. It prefers church financing with the proceeds from a special public fund administered by the churches to which the former church property would be transferred.
ČSSD will do all it can to thwart the dangerous and unfair plan of the Nečas government. ČSSD deputies and senators will vote in Parliament AGAINST the government plan for property settlement with the churches and will exercise all the available options.
Bohuslav Sobotka, chairman of ČSSD
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