News from the Church Law Society

REVIEW 28 2/2004

From the Church Law Society



Receipt of the prestigious award

The Church Law Review received the prestigious award from the society of German, Czech and Slovak attorneys “Karlsbader Juristentage.” A glass statue by Jaromír Rybák, which represents the award to the Review, was presented to three representatives of our editorial staff, Jiří Rajmund Tretera, Štěpán Hůlka and Záboj Horák, by the vice-president of the society, Vladimír Zoufalý, and secretary-general Jindřiška Munková during a festive meeting that took place at the seat of the society in the “Dunaj” palace on Narodní Street in Prague 1 on Wednesday afternoon, 30 June 2004. The original statue is exhibited in the office of the Church Law Society. Its picture is available on the internet site of the “Karlsbader Juristentage” at under the link “výsledky za r. 2003.“ On the same site the results of voting for the award are listed for all 24 competing periodicals.


Church Law Society participation at the 14th Academic Weeks in Nové Město nad Metují

On 24 July – 6 August 2004, the Academic Weeks took place again on Pavlátova Meadow. The Weeks represents a continuation of a pre-WWII tradition connected with the Dominican Order. The event is organized by the civic association Academic Weeks, currently under the leadership of Jan Kováč, in cooperation with the Czech Christian Academy and under the patronage of the Bishopric of Hradec Králové, the Dominican Order, and the town of Nové Město nad Metují. The chairman of the Church Law Society was invited to chair the Weeks on 3–4 August 2004, where the program concerned the life of army general Heliodor Píka, who was unjustly sentenced to death by a communist court and executed on 21 June 1949, and also concerned other victims among the national heroes of the Czechoslovak army who were persecuted by the communist totalitarian regime. The program was completed by film documentaries and personal testimonies of the members of the Political Prisoners Federation present at the event.



Long-active member of the working committee of the Church Law Society Jiří Jirsa successfully completed his studies at the Charles University School of Law and was graduated on 29 July 2004.


In Memory of Vladimír Mindl

On 31 August 2004, it has been 10 years since the passing of Vladimír Mindl, a founding member of the Church Law Society and its honorary member in memoriam. Representatives of the Church Law Society participated in the Holy Mass conducted for Vladimír Mindl in St. Charles Borromeo Church in Prague 1, Vlašská Street, on 30 August 2004.




Brief News

New Portuguese Concordat

Following several years of negotiations, a new Concordat was reached between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic on 18 May 2004. It replaced the previous Concordat from 1940. Soon after the declaration of the republic in Portugal in 1910, a separation of Church and State was legislated in such a manner that legal theory listed it next after the 1905 French separation of Church and State as the second strongest example of a separation “hostile to the Church.” A gradual softening of anti-Church measures occurred after WWI. Through the Concordat of 1940, Portugal became one of the non-confessional (secular) states with a cooperation model of Church-State relations. The Concordat of 2004 reflects significant changes that took place in the Church since the II Vatican Council (1962–1965). The complete official wording of the Concordat with an unofficial Czech translation is available in this issue of the Review.


The finding of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic on Act No. 3/2002 Coll. on Churches

The finding of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic of 27 November 2002, published in issue No 4/2003 Coll., dealing with Act No. 3/2002 Coll. on Churches and Religious Societies, received the second place award in the “Karslbader Juristentage” competition in June 2004. Judicial decisions receive awards for important contributions to the theory of law and legal practice. In the above-mentioned finding the Constitutional Court decided in full court on the abolishment of Act No. 3/2002 Coll. on Churches and Religious Societies based on a suggested contradiction to the constitutional system. In its findings the Constitutional Court decided to abolish selected provisions of the Act which - in contradiction to the constitutional system - enabled state intervention in the freedom of churches and religious societies. The finding was reprinted in Church Law Review No 23 – 3/2002, pp. 241–271.


This year eight judicial decisions were submitted to this year’s competition at the “Karlsbader Juristentage.” Two were findings of the Constitutional Court, one was a judgment of the High Court in Prague and six others were judgments of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. The decision was announced together with the results of the Author’s Award for the Best Legal Publication in 2003 and of the prestigious award to the Best Professional Legal Periodical in either the Czech or Slovak Republics during a festive meeting at the Thermal Hotel in Karlovy Vary on 11 June 2004.


The most votes were given to the judgment of the Supreme Court Ref. 22 Cdo 1993/2001 of 8 April 2003 concerning laesio enormis.


English text of this decission you can find on our web pages – here. or


Registration of the Center of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic

The Center of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic applied for registration on 16 March 2004 according to Act No. 3/2002 Coll. As reported by the Czech Press Agency on 2 September 2004, the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic granted the application. Until then Czech Muslims were organized through activities of the Islamic Foundation, whose representative is Vladimír Sáňka of Prague. In one of the future Reviews we will report on the difficult evolution of the position of Czech Muslims since their first legal recognition in our territory in 1912.


UK: Reducing Abortion Time Limits2

The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion in the UK. Abortion was then possible up to 28 weeks if the mother’s physical or mental health was endangered. In 1990, this law was amended and the time limit for abortions reduced to 24 weeks. In July 2004, the debate on abortion was stirred up once more with the publication in UK newspapers of photos showing a 12-week-old foetus “walking” in the womb, another sucking its thumb, opening its eyes and yawning and a third smiling at 22 weeks. Professor Campbell, who took the photos, refrained from taking a stand on the issue but nonetheless commented: “When I see a foetus smiling at 22 weeks, I think it is a bit late to be aborting.” The pictures prompted calls in British newspapers to review the late time limits allowed by the law. On 11 July, The Sunday Telegraph published the account of a mother whose daughter was born at 23 weeks, showing photos of the child at birth and today. The public was moved to see that a foetus was viable at this stage. On 7 July 2004, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, hinted at a review of the abortion law during Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons and 2The news was published in the internet revue Gèneéthique on 26 July 2004 (see invited Labour MPs to submit new proposals, stating: “As a matter of conscience, MPs would be given a free vote.”


Lord David Steel, architect of the 1967 law authorising abortion up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, is now calling for the limit to be shortened to 12 weeks due to medical advances (imaging, screening, etc.). Limits on abortions „for social reasons“ should be reduced to 12 weeks, in line with most European countries. He stated that at 24 weeks, you are no longer dealing with a foetus but with the „possibility of a baby“. The Secretary of Health, John Reid, called for an 18-week time limit. In 2002, out of 175,000 recorded abortions, 13,000 were performed after 14 weeks.


On 30 August 2004 P. Zdislav Umlauf OP passed away in Grenada in the Lesser Antilles. He was born on 2 September 1931 in Dolní Němčí in Moravia. After WWII he left for studies in Great Britain and remained in exile. He became a member of the Dominican Order through its English Province which later sent him to be active as a priest in the Caribbean Vicariat. In the 1990’s he returned to his homeland for several years in order to help educate students of theology from among the reestablished Dominican Order. In the Olomouc Priory he took care of about 40 Dominican candidates for the priesthood from the Czech lands and Slovakia. Later he returned to the Caribbean where he became the spiritual

administrator of Grenada after its senior colleague P. Bernard Kadlec OP (see Church Law Review No. 26 – 3/03, p. 248).


On 31 August 2004 P. Jiří Maria Veselý OP passed away in Olomouc. He was born on 15 November 1915 in Protivanov in Moravia. In the 1950’s he was imprisoned without a trial in the worst internment prison in our territory – in Želiv. The guards treated him in such a way that he almost died from poisoning, but unexpectedly he managed to recover. His recovery was connected with pleas by the Master of the Order, Hyacinth Cormier OP, the reinstituter of the Czech Dominican Province, whose pleas were subject to review 40 years later in Rome during the beatification of Hyacinth. After P. Jiří Maria Veselý was released from internment he was a manual worker at archeological excavations in southern Moravia. Since the occupation of the country in August 1968 he lived in exile in Rome where he devoted himself to archeological studies along with his spiritual activities. The last years of his life he spent in the Olomouc Priory.