Page 2, 29th October 1976

29th October 1976
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Page 2, 29th October 1976 — Church still persecuted by Czechs
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Church still persecuted by Czechs

From a Special Correspondent

THE Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia is still persecuted by the Cornmunist government despite guarantees of religious freedom contained in the Helsinki Agreement and the country's constitution, according to Vatican Radio.

Citing a 150-page "White Paper" issued by the Swiss National Commission on Justice and Peace, Vatican Radio said the Czechoslovak Church was persecuted as much today as it was during the late 1940s and 1950s, when suppression of Catholicism was at a peak.

According to Vatican Radio,

among the new forms of oppression are fines for and imprisonment of priests who exercise their priestly functions after retirement.

There are also various kinds of pressure, psychological and otherwise, to discourage parents from providing their children with religious education, and the refusal to advance qualified children with religious training to higher grades at school.

The report also criticised the government-sanctioned movement, Pacem in Terris, an organisation of priests considered "safe" by the

authorities. This group succeeded the "peace priests" movement, which was abandoned in 1963.

Uneasy truce in Russia: Although Communist theory and religious teaching could not co-exist, an uneasy truce had been struck by the Church and State in the Soviet Union, a leading Soviet historian said in Rome.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Professor Alexander Niecrich, whose books have been banned in his country for 10 years, said that despite the antagonism, between State

doctrine and religion, "Nothing will disturb the peaceful modus vivendi between the State and any religion.

"In Russia," he said, "there are many believers and many different religions. It is not that these believers are forbidden to pray, although there are some cases of persecution, for example, against the Catholic Church in Lithuania, and that is not just."

Professor Niecrich has been unable to get any of his books published in the Soviet Union since 1965, when he wrote that the lack of military preparedness in the late 1930s was a cause of Russian losses in the war against Nazi Germany.




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