“The turning point was there. My sister is three years younger, and not all things were discussed when she was present. For instance the issue of Pioneer (an organization for children, sanctioned by the communist regime – transl.’s note): we had witnessed the disbandment of the Boy Scout organization. We had therefore turned into tramps and we were trying to get hold of some Scout uniforms. When we were fourteen we were already going on cycling trips organized by ourselves. I wore a Scout shirt from my girl cousin, because my boy cousins did not have any Boy Scout shirts left. I have to admit that we really did bully the Pioneer children. Because they were in a minority. We were exercising our own rule, not with Pioneer and the Communist Party. When I think of it, even those people who were Party members and who had their children in Pioneer have never informed upon us. We were never investigated by the police. What we considered as the greatest act of heroism was when we were distributing pamphlets with Czechoslovak and American flags and the text: ‘The people of the USA salute the opposition movement in Czechoslovakia.’”
“In 1981-1982 I was sentenced to fifteen months of special workers’ university in the Bory prison. The leaders of Charter 77 and Catholic activists served their sentences there at that time, too, so there were Václav Havel, Jiří Dienstbier, Albert Černý, Václav Valeš, who was the minister of trade and the deputy prime minister before and after, and some others. There were also priests Lízna and Radim. Josef Vlček, who was the director of the publishing house Matice Cyrilometodějská, was there at that time, too. There was also colonel Zbyněk Čeřovský whom I mentioned. It was a fateful moment for me; after 1989 I found myself in a position when I was being asked: ‘Go there, arrange this and that, because you know Havel, you know Dienstbier…’ I was able to have access to them, which was somewhat important. On December 16, 1989 I was thus able to sit in Marián Čalfa’s office who became the prime minister. The talks were led by Ján Čarnogurský as the deputy prime minister, and later with Jozef Mikloško and with prime minister Čalfa, who was good to negotiate with. And I still have not left my position as a negotiator, although it’s a job I would not wish for anybody to have to go through.”
“I was on Wenceslas Square on August 21, 1969. But then we ran away, because I was there with doctor Metoděj Habáň who was as old as I am now. And I was really afraid for him, because they could have beaten him with a truncheon. I told him: ‘Father, we really need to get away, because they started arresting people here.’ I don’t even know how we managed to get out, but a waiter from Hotel Sofia let us pass through and he led us through the backyards and we emerged somewhere near the Wilson (Main – ed.’s note) train station.”
“I finished my ministry there (in the parsonage in Čížkov – ed.’s note). I have already moved part of my things to Pilsen to Revoluční Street No. 50 (where we obtained the premises for our community – ed.’s note) thanks to one of our priests, who was a lawyer and who in those years often served under the pseudonym Advocate of the Poor. (He was not the only one, there were several people called like that). A couple lived in that house; the wife was Croatian. Each of the three Dominicans purchased one fifth of the house. We thus owned three fifths, and the husband and wife had two fifths. In this way, we believed that we had at least some guarantee. We had a kind of a mini-community, which we established based on the model of Franciscan Father Baptista Bárta.”
Pražské arcibiskupství, Hradčanské náměstí, Praha 1, 02.09.2015
One does not need to see life’s trials and obstacles as tragic
Cardinal Jaroslav Dominik Duka OP was born on April 26, 1943 in Hradec Králové. He comes from a military family. His father František Duka served in the Government Army during the war; he deserted and he went to Great Britain, where he joined the Czechoslovak foreign army. He served as an armourer in № 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron of the Royal Air Force and after 1948 he was imprisoned in communist Czechoslovakia together with many other soldiers who had fought on the western front. Jaroslav completed an eleven-year school in Hradec Králové. Due to his personal profile he was not allowed to study further and he thus began working in the ZVÚ factory, where he apprenticed as a machine fitter. It was only in 1965 when he was admitted to the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology in Litoměřice. He graduated in 1970 and he was ordained a priest. In 1970-1975 he served as a priest in western Bohemia in the parishes Chlum Svaté Máří, Jáchymov and Čížkov. In 1968 he joined the Dominican Order and he adopted his religious name Dominik. When the West Bohemian Regional Administration cancelled his state authorization for serving as a priest in 1975, he found a job as a draughtsman in the Škoda factory in Pilsen. Together with other Dominicans they established a small secret Dominican community in a house in Revoluční Street in Pilsen. Dominik was also involved in organizing secret education for members of the Order and in publishing and disseminating samizdat religious texts. In 1981 he was sentenced for this activity to fifteen months of imprisonment for the offence of disrupting the state control over churches. He served his sentence in the Bory prison in Pilsen. In 1986-1998 he served as the provincial of the Czechoslovak Dominican Province. In 1998-2009 he was the bishop of Hradec Králové. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him the archbishop of Prague and in 2012 he was appointed as a cardinal.