THE PRIMATE OF CZECH REPUBLIC AN HONOURABLE PHD
The ceremony of granting the honoris causa PhD of the Papal Theological Department in Warsaw to cardinal Dominik Duce OP took place on 16 March 2015 with the participation of the Polish Episcopate in the Central Agricultural Library in Warsaw. It was attended by rectors of Warsaw universities and representatives of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Poland
At this university in 1979 the current primate of the Czech Republic passed his PhD exam of his thesis in biblical theology. It was a very difficult time for the Church in communist Czechoslovakia. Christians were persecuted in mass, and Fr. Dominik Duka was working within the so-called underground Church. For his illegal pastoral activity he was sentenced to prison where he met the future president of independent Czechoslovakia Vaclac Havel.
– Cardinal Duka is a person who had to devote a lot for his faith. Also today he shows us that relationship with Jesus may cost a lot – Fr. Prof. Krzysztof Pawlina, a rector of the Papal Theological Department in Warsaw says to ‘Niedziela’.
Cardinal Dominik Duka OP – baptismal name: Jarosław - was born in 1943 in a family of an officer of the Czech army. In 1968 he joined the conspirational Dominicans Order, taking on Dominik name. communist authorities forbade him fulfill his pastoral ministry. Fr. Duka was ordered to work on the car plant of ‘Skoda’ in Pilzno. – The communists simply did not tolerate absenteeism – cardinal Duka mentions with a smile. However, his full-time work did not prevent him from fulfilling his pastoral ministry and fulfilling various functions in the structure of the underground Dominicans Order. For over ten years he was a vicar of the provincial of the Dominicans. He was also responsible for conspirational formation of candidates for the Order.
Life road of the Primate of the Czech Republic was very complicated. – Today he is consistently building bridges between faith and culture, which cannot function separately. Cardinal Duka often says that the Church should come out with a wise catechesis to adults, so as to show the beauty and seriousness of Jesus Christ’s message in this universal religious illiteracy – said Fr. Prof. Józef Kulisz SJ from the Papal Theological Department in Warsaw.
Unfortunately, the Czech society is very secularized. Number of baptized people is not bigger than 40 percent. The reason for the gap between life and faith reach back to the XIX century, when on the land of the Czech Republic very strong leftist movements appeared. – However, the dispute about which country is more secularized is an unjustified dispute – said cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, the great chancellor of the Papal Theological Department in Warsaw. – The question is: how can it be possible today to bring new generations into the family of European nations derived from Christianity? How to open the Europeans to the need of spiritual moral values?
During ceremonies there also appeared a reference to the common history of Christianity in Czech Republic and in Poland, which reaches back to the times of baptism of both nations. – It is thanks to the Czech that Poland was included into the family of Christian Europe and we always emphasize it – cardinal Nycz noted.
We are going to come to Cracow for the World Youth’s Days
ARTUR STELMASIAK: – How does Priest Cardinal feel with the honoris causa PhD?
CARDINAL DOMINIK DUKA OP: – It is not rewarding my personal merits but the expression of great help and friendliness from the Church in Poland for the Church in the Czech Republic. One important event joins me with this university. It was the university when 35 years ago I received the academic degree allowing me to give lectures at ecclesiastical universities. It took place at the time when our countries were in the block of the Soviet empire and communist authorities did not allow me for pastoral ministry, not saying about a possibility for academic development. It was Poland where the Czech Church found a lot of support.
– And what can the Polish Church do now for its southern neighbouring countries?
– This help is real and we feel it all the time. We can only mention that in our country many nuns and about 200 Polish priests from your country work. It is difficult to imagine pastoral work in Czech Republic without this help.
– In the opinion of Priest Cardinal, the Czech are not such an atheistic nation, as it is often said in fixed stereotypes. How is it in real?
– Atheism is present among the Czechs, but it is not so domineering as it is generally thought. There are a lot of people who are religiously indifferent or agnostic. However, the majority of the nation feels religiousness and values which have their roots in European Christianity.
– So, does the Czech Church introduce any forms of new evangelization?
– Great hopes appeared during the European Youth’s Meeting Taize which was held in Prague a few months ago. In summer a program of new evangelization is going to be begun in the capital city of the Czech. Besides the Catholic Church, also other churches and people of culture and science are engaged in this enterprise.
– Another chance of awakening faith and hope will be next year. Are young Czechs going to Cracow for the World Youth’s Days?
– Certainly, they are. In every diocese a special pastoral centre is already functioning whose purpose is to prepare the youth for the meeting with the Holy Father. Every young person who is going to participate in the World Youth’s Days, will receive a pocket edition of the Bible.