Tomáš Halík

* 1948  

  • "The interrogations made for a very interesting psychological and moral experience. I was not tortured, and I even had the feeling that I was respected by some of them because I kept my ground. I always talked to them politely and reasonably. They disclosed to me that they had searched for something in my life that they could discredit me with, but found nothing. Still, they tried to buy me over or intimidate me. This was a very important experience, because one had the feeling that he was in kind of a roentgen which identifies ones weak spots, and what one desires... ´Surely you would like to lecture again, we could arrange that´; ´Surely you would like to travel again, no problem, sign here´; or ´You know, you have an old mother, if you couldn't take care of her, that would be tough.´ So, one realizes what his desires, dreams, and fears are. It was great training for what can be called 'an inner freedom'."

  • There (at the Catholic convention in Velehrad, 14-15 May 1968), I saw for the first time all friaries in their clothes. Before that, on an April night in 1950, all monks were transported to concentration work camps, to divisions of PTP (criminal command), or put in jail. But one convent survived these raids: the Convent in Hájek, where – as the story goes – lived an old Franciscan, who, for ascetic reasons, slept in a coffin. So, when the police came with dogs and machine riffles, he sat up in his coffin and asked: 'What´s up?' They left the convent as fast as they could. That was the only convent left alone, but only for 24 hours, because the next day they came back and took everything including the 'dead'.

  • I had the opportunity, as well as 11,000 other Czechoslovaks, to go to Rome for the canonisation of St. Agnes of Bohemia in November, 1989. I sent a letter to the Pope through the exiled bishop, Škarvada, in which I asked for an interview. The answer was positive and so we (me and bishop Škarvada) were invited to talk with the Pope for an hour and a half. This was one day before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Pope told us: „Ta komuna se rozvali.“ Communism will fall, be ready. I disagreed with him, but he insisted: "It will be soon, be ready." And so it happend.

  • Around Christmas 1968, a letter came from one of my acquaintances, Dr. Neradová, who was also very active in the catholic intellectual movement during the Prague Spring. She wrote: 'You know there are still possibilities here, but the leading figures of the student and catholic movement are not here. They are gone--emigrated--and I think, you should come back'. I told myself I would be a fool, having such great opportunities here. But suddenly, when I was putting the letter down, I told myself: 'Is that really it? Am I living in this world to have a good time, or is there a mission for me? Should I live in a place where I feel good, or where I feel needed?' So, I prayed the whole night, and then I replied that I was coming back. And so I did, before New Year´s Eve in 1968. But there was still a backdoor: clauses in the regulations made it quite easy to prolong our passports with by the Czechoslovak Embassy. In January 1969, the pubs in Prague we full of students who were in the same situation as I was: they could also go back to the West. We discussed all night long whether to stay or not. At this time I was participating in spiritual exercises lead by father Reinsberg at the Archbishop Palace. At this time, I was participating in spiritual exercises lead by father Reinsberg at the Archbishop Palace. On the last day of these exercises, a message came that Jan Palach had burnt to death. Shortly thereafter, another message leaked that he had left a letter behind which was signed, 'Torch No. 1'. Then I told myself that we were, in fact, all 'Torch No. 2'. This act, when a man takes his life because he values the nation´s character more than his own life, and to die in such a terrible way so as to awake the nation´s consciousness, is obliging to us. What should I do? In my case, it would probably not be death, but some kind of meaningful life. And at this moment I started my own personal war against communism.

  • “Charter 77 was quite a test for me; it spoke to my heart, and I was deeply connected with the people who signed it. So of course, I wanted to sign as well. But it was one year before my secret ordination as a Catholic priest and at that time, the leaders of our group told me: 'Make a choice, you cannot do both. As soon as you sign the Charter you will be exposed to police prosecution and you may endanger the existence of the whole network.' After a long period of soul searching, I decided to choose the Priest’s career. This fact - that I did not sign the Charter - I could not explain to my dissident friends for a long time. It was the same awkward secret that I could not explain to my mother why I was not getting married. "

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    Praha, 22.11.2010

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“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17)

Tomáš Halík working in 1978
Tomáš Halík working in 1978
photo: archiv Tomáše Halíka

Mons. Prof. PhDr. Tomáš Halík Th.D. was born on the 1st of June, 1948 into the family of the literary historian, PhDr. Miroslav Halík, and his wife Marie Halíková (née Wimmerová). He studied Sociology and Philosophy in Prague from 1966 to 1971. The Soviet invasion of 1968 started when he was studying in Britain. At that time he decided to return home and stay in Prague. For political reasons he was banned from university teaching until 1989, so between 1970 and 1990 he worked as a sociologist, psychologist and as a psychotherapist. Halík was active in the cultural and religious dissent, which involves flat seminars, samizdat and underground churches. IIn 1978, he was secretly ordained as a Catholic priest (in the former GDR), and in the 80´s he was one of the closest fellow servant of the cardinal Tomášek. After 1989, Tomáš held many important positions within the Church, and was an advisor of the former president Václav Havel. Currently, he is a professor at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, the rector of the University Church of St. Saviour in Prague, and the president of the Czech Christian Academy.