The Czech Church has said talks are underway with the Vatican to repatriate the remains of Cardinal Josef Beran (1888-1969), who was buried in St Peter's Basilica after being exiled by the then Czechoslovakia's communist regime.
"Reinterring his earthly remains in Prague's St Vitus cathedral could symbolically heal wounds inflicted by the state security organisation in June 1949, when the cardinal was prevented from saying Mass here", explained Stanislav Zeman, spokesman for the Church's Prague Archbishopric. "Of course, verbal agreements must still be committed to paper. But we hope this event will happen in 2018 during centenary celebrations of the establishment of the first Czechoslovak state".
Beran was detained for speaking out against communist illegalities after becoming Archbishop of Prague in 1946, despite initially welcoming the new regime, and barred from returning home after being sent to Rome in 1963. He was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI and later interred in the St Peter's crypt after the communist regime of Gustav Husak refused to allow his burial in Prague.
Czech newspapers said the country's ambassador to the Holy See, Pavel Vosalik, had formally requested the cardinal's repatriation in a September letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. The reports added that the move was backed by the Czech primate, Cardinal Dominik Duka, and had also been requested by Beran in his will.
PICTURE: Cardinal Josef Beran, exiled Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Czechoslovakia, lights a symbolic candle in the barbed wire at the annual service sponsored by Amnesty International (an organisation which once declared him Prisoner of Conscience of the Year) at Farm Street Roman Catholic Church, Mayfair, London in 1966.