Czech cardinal congratulates hate-mongering party on their electoral results
The head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, Cardinal Dominik Duka, has congratulated the chair of the Freedom and Direct Democracy movement (SPD), Tomio Okamura, on his party's electoral results. "Permit me to congratulate you on the outcome of the elections to the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic," Duka has written in a letter.
"I am convinced that we are connected by the care for and safety of people in this country and by many other subjects," the cardinal's letter states. "I hope that you and your MPs in the newly-established lower house manage to thoroughly advocate for justice and the law."
The cardinal's congratulations to the hatemongering party have prompted a wide range of reactions. A speech Duka gave celebrating St. Wenceslas Day (28 September) prompted similar responses.
On that occasion Duka said he saw hope in the fact that the elections would aid the "silent majority" in the country with asserting themselves and that the majority would not be manipulated or ruled by what he called the "fantasies" of some minorities. Catholic priest and professor Tomáš Halík told news server Deník.cz that "Father Dominik is, for me, the biggest disappointment of the last decade."
"We have known each other for half a century, we collaborated as dissidents in the circle around [political prisoners] Zvěřina and Mádr, and since his appointment to the throne as the Archbishop of Prague I have anticipated a great deal of good from him and I have always greatly respected him. I would never have expected that ultimately he would actually have more to do with the world of [the tabloid] Parlamentní listy, Okamura, or the birthday parties of [the Czech President's Chief of Staff] Mynář and [former President] Klaus than he would with the world of the values of Pope Francis and his erstwhile friends from the 'underground church'," Halík said.
Speaking to news server iHNED.cz immediately after the congratulations were published, Marian Jurečka, vice-chair of the Christian Democrats, said: "To tell you the truth, I do not comprehend what the subjects connecting the SPD to Catholics are that Cardinal Duka is writing about here. What I see in him and his SPD are primarily lies, distortions of the truth, and the creation of an atmosphere of fear and hatred toward people."
"Dear Mr Cardinal," SPD chair Okamura has written in response, "I greatly appreciate your congratulations, but I appreciate even more the fact that for a long time we have held similar anxieties about the future of our country, the future of European civilization, of the values it holds, such as freedom, democracy and human rights, and our Christian roots, inlcuding support for the traditional family. We thank you for your open position and you have yet another, even stronger voice and firm backing in us on the above-mentioned subjects."
Okamura makes no secret of his hateful attitudes towards refugees and the Romani minority. SPD secretary Jaroslav Staník is now infamous for having declared, in front of witnesses, that "Jews, homosexuals and gypsies should be gassed", remarks which have been reported to the criminal justice authorities.
Similarly controversial remarks have also been made by Czech MP Tereza Hyťhová of the SPD. Duka has issued a statement to the effect that he stands by his words.
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