06 August 2015, The Tablet

Czech cardinal clashes with Templeton winner over gay rights

A gay pride rally that was to have been hosted at the church led by the 2014 Templeton Prize winner, Mgr Tomás Halík, is to be staged elsewhere following objections from the head of the Czech Church. Cardinal Dominik Duka raised concerns about plans by Mgr Halík to lend his Prague university church as the venue for events organised by Logos, a gay Christian group, during the week-long August rally.

Mgr Halík had also planned to host a conference by Sr Jeannine Gramick, an American nun specialising in pastoral care for gays and lesbians, as well as screening a Polish film about a homosexual priest. All the events will now be staged elsewhere without church involvement.

In a statement setting out his objections, Duka said: “Most participants are not believers and have no intention of addressing their relationship with the Church. Since I do not think people with this sexual orientation are discriminated against in our country, it is not right for us to advocate things which are in direct conflict with the Catholic Church’s teachings.”

Mgr Halík said he respected the primate’s decision, but added that he would “return to a necessary academic discussion and open debate on these issues later when circumstances are more favourable”.

The Templeton Foundation in 2014 hailed Mgr Halík as “a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers”, and Duka said at the time that it showed the Czech Republic was a home “to people of deep thought who can speak to audiences in Europe and other continents”.

The Czech Republic, which legalised same-sex civil partnerships in 2006, is widely considered one of Europe’s most liberal countries in its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. 

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