eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • December 2020 : Ceremonial sending into service of main new prison chaplain

On 2 December 2020, an ecumenical service was held in the chapel of the Archbishopric of Prague on the occasion of sending a new main chaplain of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic into service. Permanent deacon Otto Broch from Olomouc (Moravia) took the place of the current main prison chaplain Pavel Kočnar, a preacher of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren. The main chaplain and his or her deputy are appointed for a five-year term by the Director General of the Prison Service from clergy commissioned by a registered church or religious society on the basis of a joint proposal of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Czech Bishops’ Conference.
Catholic deacon Otto Broch, who has almost thirty years of experience working in the Olomouc detention centre, and his deputy Pavel Zvolánek, preacher of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, made the prescribed pledge. The service was led by the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and the Synod Senior of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren Daniel Ženatý and Zdenek Wasserbauer, auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the Archbishop of Prague, who is in charge of spiritual care in public institutions as part of his official duties. The service was also attended by the main chaplain of the army of the Czech Republic, Catholic priest Colonel Jaroslav Knichal and police chaplain Major Jiří Ignác Laňka, as well as by several other chaplains working in public institutions.
About fifty prison chaplains from several churches work full-time or part-time as employees of the Prison Service of the Czech Republic in all 36 prisons and detention facilities. They are appointed on behalf of their own church. In addition to them, prisoners are also visited by members of the 200-member Prison Spiritual Care organisation, whose members can belong to any church and who carry out their activities without the right to remuneration.

"Church Reporter No 12/2020", Church Law Society, pp. 6–7.

  • November 2020 : Worldwide celebration of 900th anniversary of Premonstratensians in Prague

At the beginning of this year’s Advent, on Saturday 28 November 2020 at sunset, the Royal Canonry of the Premonstratensians in the Strahov monastery (in Prague) launched the celebration of the 900th anniversary of the founding of the order in its monastery basilica of the Assumption, with the participation of Prague Archbishop Dominik Cardinal Duka OP. The joint singing of the first Advent vespers was followed by the blessing of new bells and the display of the remains of Saint Norbert (1080–1134), the founder of the order, who is buried in the basilica.
On the following first Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2020, the Apostolic Nuncio in the Czech Republic Charles Daniel Balvo celebrated the Holy Mass which marked the beginning of the worldwide jubilee year of the Premonstratensian Order.
St. Norbert came from Xanten on the Lower Rhine, where he became a canon at a young age. In 1120/1121, he founded a monastery of the new canonical order following the monastic rule of St. Augustine in “the place shown in advance”, called Prémontré, in the valley near Laon in Provence (France). He later became archbishop of Magdeburg, where he died on 6th June 1134. In 1627, his body was transferred to the Strahov Monastery in Prague. Soon after, he was included among the Czech national patrons. An important role was played by the fact that the Premonstratensian Order was already one of the most numerous religious orders in Bohemia and Moravia.
The celebrations of the anniversary of the Premonstratensian Order are taking place around the world through a series of festivities, lasting until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 2022. In addition to celebrations at individual Premonstratensian monasteries in the Czech Republic, on the occasion of the anniversary, for example, an exhibition will be opened in Prague Strahov. Among the worldwide events prepared for 2021, the international meeting of juniors (novices and students) of the Premonstratensian Order in Mondaye (France) or the meeting of prelates of the Premonstratensian monasteries in Rome, and a special audience with Pope Francis, deserve particular attention.
The Premonstratensian Order has around 1 300 members worldwide. In its work, it focuses on emphasizing reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and on exemplary care for the choral prayer of the Divine Office. It is engaged in exemplary administration of incorporated parishes and many pastoral activities, care of libraries, and many of its members are dedicated to science and teaching, especially at universities.
During the forcible elimination of all men’s monasteries in Czechoslovakia in 1950, all Premonstratensian activities were abolished, and many members were imprisoned on the basis of kangaroo court, or without trial in internment prisons or deployed to auxiliary technical battalions of the army. When, after a brief liberalization of the regime in 1968, some monks began to secretly associate in secret communities and accept novices again, the Premonstratensians were among the first. Therefore, during the renewal of the order’s life in 1990, together with the Salesians, Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans, they were among the most numerous renewed male orders in Czechoslovakia. (According to the list drawn up by the Conference of Senior Religious Superiors, all four abbeys (canonries) of the Premonstratensian Order in Bohemia and Moravia were restored, and as of that date it had 116 members.)
At present, there are four Premonstratensian abbeys (canonries) in the Czech Republic, namely in Prague in Strahov, in Teplá near Mariánské Lázně in western Bohemia, in Želiv in eastern Bohemia and in Nová Říše in western Moravia. Each canonry has its own abbot. Some of them have subsidiary monasteries in a larger number of places in the Czech lands and in Slovakia.
As soon as 1990, the public activity of the sisters from the Premonstratensian religious congregation was resumed. It is now housed in the monastery at the Svatý Kopeček pilgrimage site near Olomouc.
In 1998, the abbot of Strahov Michael Pojezdný, agreed with the administration of the monastery of Premonstratensian nuns in Cracow – Zwierzyniec on an attempt to restore the Premonstratensian canon monastery in Doksany (northern Bohemia). First, the religious house dependent on the parent canonry in Krakow was founded. In 2007, the Apostolic See decided to promote it to an independent canonry and submit it to the abbot of Strahov as its prelate.
The fact of interest is that there are two Premonstratensians and two Dominicans among the teachers of canon law at Czech universities : Ignác Antonín Hrdina OPraem and Bartoloměj Marián Čačík, both Premonstratensians from Strahov, Jiří Rajmund Tretera from the Dominican monastery of St. Giles in Prague and Damián Němec from the Dominican monastery of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in Olomouc.
The monumental Premonstratensian monastery in Strahov, the seat of Premonstratensian theology students from the Czech lands who study at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Charles University, is home to of the largest publicly accessible libraries in the Czech lands. The basilica and the monastery, together with Prague Castle, form a beautiful and world-famous Prague panorama.

See "Church Reporter No 12/2020", Church Law Society, pp. 2–4.

  • June-August 2020 : Marian column in Prague restored after 102 years

In the capital city of Prague on the Old Town Square, which is one of the most famous squares in the country, a historic event took place in 2020.
- On 4 June 2020, a column with a statue of the Virgin Mary was replaced after 102 years. It stands on the exact site where the original column stood in 1650–1918, a work created by legendary Czech sculptor Jan Jiří Bendl (1610–1680) in order to express thanks for the victory of the citizens of Prague over foreign troops at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The restoration of the column is a remedy for the vandalism committed by the street crowd in the first days of the young republic in November 1918. The column stands next to the memorial of Czech Reformer John Hus (died 1415), erected in the year of 500th anniversary of his burn at a stake in Constance.
- Both memorials in the heart of Prague are symbols of the two religious traditions present in the Czech nation and represent today’s ecumenical relations after both devasting totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, based on anti-human positions of racial and class hatred and pagan or atheist ideology.
The great importance of the restoration of the Marian column in Old Town Square for all Czech Catholics, their cultural sympathisers and numerous parts of Czech cultural public is expressed in an article of Professor Jiří Rajmund Tretera from Charles University in Prague published in Czech in Church Law Review, No. 80/3–2020.
The Civic Society for the Restoration of the Marian Column in Prague has been striving to restore the column for more than twenty years. The replica was created by sculptor Petr Váňa with a group of enthusiastic collaborators. The restoration of the work was made possible by a decision of the Prague City Council, which, by a majority of its members, gave its consent on 23 January 2020 after a heated debate.
- On 15 August 2020, on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the restored Marian column was blessed on the Old Town Square in Prague by Cardinal Dominik Duka, OP, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia. This blessing was preceded by the Holy Mass in the Church of Our Lady before Týn. The main celebrant was Dominik Cardinal Duka. Immediately after the Holy Mass, the participants moved to the Old Town Square while singing the Litany of Loreto, where they joined other pilgrims. The sculptor Petr Váňa placed a copy of the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary of the square (Panna Maria Rynecká) in a stone sanctuary at the foot of the Marian column. Cardinal Duka then offered a blessing prayer.

D 4 janvier 2021    AZáboj Horák

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