WEDNESDAY
January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18

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COLLEGE OF CARDINALS Series         INTRODUCTION
    Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

150.   Cardinal Vlk Miloslav
    The Czech Republic's only cardinal is Cardinal Vlk Miloslav who was born in what was then Czechoslovakia city of Lisnice, also called the region of Bohemia on May 17, 1932. His vocation was strong and he weathered a lot to attain his goal of the priesthood. First in his childhood the Nazi's occupied his country until he was 13. Then during his studies for the priesthood the communists gained control when he was 17, greatly hampering his studies. He was forced to study underground, taking courses at Charles University and other institutions to complete his requirements. This took many years and finally, at the age of 36 in a time when Warsaw Pact troops overthrew the liberal Alexander Dubcek called the "Prague Spring", he was allowed to be ordained on June 23, 1968. But any freedom was short-lived for the new regime was not pro-Catholic and feared Father Miloslav's popularity would turn the people against the government. Therefore state authorities sent him to the remotest region of the diocese - the Bohemian Forest in 1971. Obedient he ministered to the people there until 1978 when the government clamped down and forbid him to practice as a priest. He was forced to take a job as a window-washer in Prague as part of the mandatory manual labor laws, continuing his priestly ministry undercover with satelitte "catecomb groups" who thirsted for the Sacraments.

    This continued for eleven years when political parties were legalized in 1989 and many civil liberties restored as the iron curtain began to tumble in what was called the "velvet revolution." Once again he was allowed to practice his priestly work openly and the people rejoiced. A year later they were ecstatic when Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Ceske Budejovice on March 31, 1990. No one knew better than this Polish Pontiff what Bishop Vlk had gone through for he too experienced the persecutions of both the Nazis and communists in his homeland. Almost exactly a year later he was elevated to Archbishop of Prague, the Czech Republic's capital and largest city, replacing Cardinal Tomasek on March 27, 1991. In 1992 Czechoslovakia split with Slovakia becoming an independant state as well as the Czech Republic becoming the same as well as joining the United Nations. Prague continued as the capital.

    The Holy Father rewarded Archbishop Vlk for his loyalty with the cardinalate in his Consistory of November 26, 1994 as well as appointing him President of the European Bishops' Conference Council, a tremendous honor. He received the titular church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, another great honor. At 68, he remains today the Archbishop of Prague and should continue there for the next seven years or so, bring stability to this see that suffered so much persecution during the 20th Century. In addition to those duties he is still President of the European Episcopal Conference as well as having curial membership in the Congregation of Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

          

January 26, 2000
volume 10, no. 18
COLLEGE OF CARDINALS Series

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