Adventist Church Signs Pact for U.S. $45 Million in Communism Reparations
Over 30 years, Czech Republic will repay movement for theft of property
By Mark A. Kellner, News Editor
Seventh-day Adventist pastor Mikuláš Pavlík, Czecho-Slovakian Union Conference president, was one of several officials of religious organizations that signed an individual agreement with Necas.
“Signing the Treaty Settlement means the legal process is complete, and we now have redressed the property damage committed by the Communist regime against the Seventh-day Adventist Church," Pavlík said.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is among 16 religious organizations – including Jewish, Protestant and Roman Catholic communities – that are sharing in a U.S. $3.1 billion settlement from the government.
Prime Minister Necas, according to media reports, called the settlement “an act of justice” following a restitution plan approved by the Czech parliament in 2012.
"By signing these agreements, we complete steps to remedy the property damage the Communists caused,” Necas said at the ceremony. “In the early nineties we as a state came to restitution as the most efficient and just means to achieve the transformation of our economy. The Church had been excluded, but today we have completed this act of justice.”
Adventist officials in Prague said the church lost property worth U.S. $52.1 million when the Communist regime seized its holdings in 1952. The Czech republic, church officials said, is the last formerly Communist nation to reach a settlement of this kind with religious organizations.
Opposition Social Democrats tried to block the arrangement, seeking a court injunction hours before the individual agreements were signed. Though not granting an injunction, the state constitutional court is expected to issue a ruling on the Social Democrats’ complaint, media reports indicate.
J. P. Lorenz, a pastor, organized the first Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Prague in 1902. A union conference was organized in the area in 1919, according to the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia.
-- with reporting from Tomáš Kábrt, Czecho-Slovakian Union in Prague