Top court allows churches to pursue property demands at courts

The Czech Constitutional Court on Monday ruled that churches and religious societies can pursue their property restitution demands at courts without having to wait for specific legislation to be passed by Parliament. Former church property, confiscated by the communist regime, was in 1991 addressed by an act which said all demands would be dealt with in special legislation. Reviewing a complaint by a Roman Catholic parish in Nový Bydžov, in eastern Bohemia, however, the court said on Monday that since no such law had been passed to date, churches can take the state to court over individual demands.

The lower house of Parliament is later this week scheduled to vote on a controversial bill that would return the Roman Catholic Church and other groups some 135 billion crowns worth of property, partly in financial compensation. Some lawyers believe that Monday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court would pave the way for church property restitution even if the bill is rejected.

Author: Jan Richter