Friday, December 21, 2007

Czech Government and Churches Reach Agreement On Nationalized Properties

In the Czech Republic, a landmark agreement has been reached between a government committee and representatives of 17 religious orders. The Prague Post reported on Wednesday that the agreement deals with Church claims for property that was nationalized by the government after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948. Under the agreement, religious orders and congregations will actually receive back their property-- about 558,000 acres (one-third of the property that was nationalized). Churches and religious groups will receive compensation of $4.6 billion for the remainder of the property, which will then be able to be developed for other uses. Reportedly the compensation will be paid out over a period of 60 to 70 years. The proposed agreement still must be approved by Parliament and signed by President Vaclav Klaus. This seems likely to happen, and the arrangement could go into effect as early as January 2009.