Catholic Church to screen priests for collaboration with StB
Thousands of public officials have had their pasts scrutinised under a lustration or screening law adopted two years after the fall of communism. It aims to stop former senior officials, agents and collaborators reaching high office today. Now, a full decade and a half later, the Czech Republic's Roman Catholic Church is also beginning to screen its priests for evidence of collaboration with the communist-era secret police, the StB.
"Many priests collaborated through different pro-regime organisations. They openly worked with the regime and it was clear to believers that they were not independent. But later there were priests who collaborated with the secret police in many different ways. They were agents, they provided flats...it depended on the agency they were involved with - whether it was intelligence or counter-intelligence."
"In some cases their methods were very, very tough. They applied pressure, sometimes using compromising materials or putting pressure on the relatives of priests. In some cases the priests came to regard collaborating as a normal part of their lives. I'd like to say also that many of the people in the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church used by the StB were lay people involved in the church."
Cardinal Vlk's new project is called Otevrena minulost - Open Past. But why didn't the church begin making its past open sooner. After all, it is over 16 years now since the fall of the former regime. Historian Petr Blazek again.
While at the Interior Ministry, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk was shown the file the StB kept on him. It includes photographs secretly taken of the prelate, including at Prague's Kotva department store. He told Lidove noviny he was surprised he had been photographed at such proximity without noticing anything.