President Zeman Lobbies Pope on Behalf of Ultra-Right Archbishop of Prague

Prague, Feb 15 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman is going to turn to Pope Francis with a request to extend Cardinal Dominik Duka’s mandate as Prague Archbishop, he said in an interview on TV Barrandov, adding that he considers Duka a distinguished personality and a patriot.


Referring to a group of Czech Catholics who recently asked the Pope not to prolong the mandate of Duka, he branded them “squeakers.”


In their recent letter to the Pope, the critics pointed to what they called Duka’s inclination to nationalism and ultra-right positions. They also reproached Duka, the Czech Catholic primate, for delighting in ostentatious manifestations of insignia of power.


Zeman said he considers the Christian activists’ appeal a denouncing letter.


“Although I never meddle in the Catholic Church’s affairs, I have decided to turn to the Holy Father in my capacity as Czech president and ask him to extend Cardinal Duka’s mandate,” Zeman said.


He said he has known Duka for many years and would like more such distinguished personalities to be among the church dignitaries.


“Dominik Duka is a patriot,” Zeman said, adding that this quality is rare with church dignitaries in the Czech Republic.


Zeman also mentioned Duka’s past as a political prisoner in communist Czechoslovakia.


“I would like to know how many of the squeakers would have courage to become a political prisoner in hard times,” Zeman said, alluding to Duka’s critics.


Duka will turn 75 in late April, the age at which Catholic bishops are obliged to hand in resignation. The Pope may extend his mandate, as Pope Benedict XVI did in the case of the previous Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, whose mandate he prolonged by two years in 2007.