Czech Bishops Conference distances itself from candidates running with extremists
Jan Graubner, the Archbishop of Olomouc who chairs the Czech Bishops Conference (ČBK), announced on 27 July through the ČBK website that the political positions of candidates associated with the Catholic Church who are running with extremist parties for the Chamber of Deputies this fall do not represent the church's position. Jiří Prinz, spokesperson for the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka, told the Czech News Agency that Duka identifies with the ČBK chair's statement.
Hana Lipovská, an economist who was previously nominated by the ČBK for a seat on the board of public broadcaster Czech Television, has since announced her candidacy for the Volný blok ("Volný/Free Bloc") party, while Josef Nerušil, an employee of the Archbishopric of Prague, is running for the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement. "In recent days, as part of campaigns for elections to the Chamber of Deputies, candidates who are associated with the Roman Catholic Church have announced and are running for political groups that have to be considered extremist. This is not something we can stay silent about," Graubner said.
Lipovská, who is a Czech Television board member and economist, is leading the candidate list for the Volný blok in the Pardubice Region, the main face of which is the now unaffiliated Czech MP Lubomír Volný. He was originally elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the SPD.
Volný left the SPD movement two years ago. In addition to making controversial remarks about migration or criticizing NATO, he became notorious for refusing to wear a facemask in the Chamber of Deputies and for scuffling with fellow lawmakers during a lower house session in January.
News server Romea.cz previously reported that members of the extremist Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS), led by Tomáš Vandas, are also running on the Volný blok's list. Lipovská was supported in her candidacy for the Czech Television board seat by Duka when he chaired the ČBK.
Duka was criticized for that decision by senators and by the leadership of the Czech Christian Academy because Lipovská had, among other things, publicly cast doubt on the whether public broadcasting media should even exist. Her election to the board was then criticized by the opposition.
Graubner, who succeeded Duka as chair of the ČBK, recently called on Lipovská to resign because in his view her activity on the board gave the impression that she is defending the interests of specific groups and individuals. Duka stood up for her at that time.
Josef Nerušil, who leads the SPD candidate list in Prague, is a member of the board of public broadcaster Czech Radio and an employee of the Archbishopric of Prague. According to news server Seznam Zprávy, he administers Cardinal Duka's official social media accounts and also takes care of social media for the Archbishopric itself.
"It has to be said that the political positions of these persons is not the position of the Church, which is guided by the Catholic principles of social teaching. Those principles are also essential to evaluating whether the programs of the movements and parties for which these persons are running correspond to Catholic social science or not," Graubner said.
The chair of the ČBK added that it is not possible for believers to focus on protecting just one value that may correspond to the Christian view of society and the world while simultaneously contradicting or staying silent about other Christian values. "At the same time, it is not possible to offer visions that are disconnected from reality, that are unfeasible, and to thereby put oneself in the role of the savior of society, which is, in its essence, what an empty election promise is."
Graubner also said that he does not believe it is possible to assess candidates solely on the basis of what they themselves say. "It's necessary to research whether what they say corresponds to how they live and how the overall value system of the political group they are running for is set up," he said.
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