Josef Babka, The Vice President of the Region: The appetite of the Church is exorbitant. We refuse to pay them twice

Churches and religious organisations have started property claims against several municipalities in the Moravian-Silesian Region.

The Regional Authority actually faces six actions from the Teutonic Order, specifically the Czech Province of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (4 actions) and the Czechoslovakian Province of Charity Sisters of Saint Mary in Jerusalem (2 actions), in which these orders deny the Moravian-Silesian Region's right of ownership to some of these properties. The Regional Authority categorically rejects these demands.

The Teutonic Order, which considers itself the natural successor of the historical ecclesial owner, through its lawyers with reference to the violation of the terms of the “blocking paragraph” of the Land Act (N.B.: This prohibits the transfer of the assets that the State confiscated in 1948 from the church) challenged the validity of the transfer of assets from the Czech Republic to other regions that took place after 2001, asking the court to confirm the State’s ownership, which, pursuant to the terms of the Restitution Act, would result in the obligation to return the property. (N.B.: This Act was adopted in 2012. Under this law, the church is entitled to receive properties from the State with a total value of CZK 75 billion. Over the next 30 years they will receive an additional CZK 59 billion as financial compensation for property that cannot be returned.)

The steps taken by the Order to release the Region's property, though the Restitution Act clearly states that the Church is only entitled to property that belongs to the State, angered the leaders of the Moravian-Silesian Region. “We will protect these assets by all legal means, because the law on church restitution does not concern us. We took the assets over from the State in good faith and have owned them, as an honest holder, for fifteen years. There is no reason to doubt the legitimacy of our ownership,” stated Josef Babka, the Vice President of the Moravian-Silesian Region. He claims that the transfer of ownership rights in 2001 and 2003 were legal and that the properties are those that are not being returned and for which the registered churches and religious organisations received financial compensation.

“For the unreleased assets of the regions and municipalities the Church will receive compensation of CZK 59 billion plus inflation. Given the fact that two years ago they signed a contract with the State in which they pledged that they will not make any further demands, I consider their current demands as exorbitant: The Order knows that they will receive financial compensation but they still want to acquire additional property through the court. Thus the taxpayer would be paying the Church twice for the same thing. Essentially, we reject this. We do not even partially recognise their claim and we propose that the court should entirely reject this,” stated the Vice President of the Region, Josef Babka.

The former Teutonic Order wants to have the properties of both the Bruntál and the Sovinec Castle Grounds released (which are currently administered by the Museum Bruntál – i.e. the region’s allowance organisation) and the other real estate in Bruntál (i.e. the buildings of the technical secondary school, the business school and the youth home) and in Opava (i.e. the buildings of the technical secondary school, the children's home and the school canteen) and in Vrbno pod Pradědem (i.e. the buildings of the basic school, the school club and the canteen attached to the children's home).

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