Czech Clergyman occupies “stolen church”


Central Europe


photo Wikipedia Commons

An assistant pastor occupied the Orthodox Church of St. Wenceslas in the Czech city of Brno due to a dispute between the congregation and their bishop.

Jozef Fejsak, who has been the pastor of the church for almost 37 years, locked himself in the church on Monday. According to Czech news agency CTK, Fejsak is in a power struggle with vicar bishop Isaiah of Šumperk over who has the right to lead the congregation.

On Monday, a call appeared on the website of the Orthodox ecclesiastical community that said that “Father Joseph needs help”. According to the statement, the church and the parish were in danger. At the invitation, several dozen people gathered around the church, primarily Russian or Ukrainian-speaking members of the church community. They loudly supported Fejsak and proclaimed that he was a good shepherd.

“My daughter had a wedding and a grandson baptism in this church; no one will take it from us!” Shouted an elderly woman with a long scarf hung over her head. Another woman in the crowd held a burning candle. Yet another one pressed a wooden cross with a carved Christ to her bowed forehead and whispered prayers, wrote Prague based daily Lidové noviny.

Fejsak’s faithful parishioners see vicar bishop Isaiah as a “naughty priest”. “He decided to take our church property into his own hands as a trustee, forged signatures, deceived our father Joseph. It was an intrigue,” one of the onlookers was angry.

A stolen church

According to her, Isaiaht who is also the bishop of Šumperk, stole the church under the pretext of inventory and locked the grille at the entrance with his lock. Therefore, on Monday, father Jozef replaced him with his own and refused to unlock it.

When the police arrived, many parishioners tried to discuss with the police and convince them that the congregation should decide the church’s fate, not the vicar bishop. They feared that the village would be left without a clergyman and that the church would be closed.

Police officers tried to mediate the agreement throughout the day. For example, they suggested exchanging the locks and handing over the keys of the temple to a notary or law firm. For a long time, however, all attempts to reach an agreement ran into the intransigence of one or the other party.

Around 4 pm on Monday, the situation calmed down. Fejsak came out of the church. He handed over the keys of the church to the local municipality. The church will remain closed until the situation in the Brno village is resolved by the church synod, which will meet in mid-September.

Self-appointed bishop

According to the news website BrnoDaily, the situation around the Brno Orthodox community has been tense for some time. Last year, Fejsak was removed from the position of spiritual administrator and appointed only as an assistant clergyman. Vicar bishop Isaiah of Šumperk, whose real name is Igor Slaninka, was appointed spiritual administrator, but the local parish community strongly opposes his appointment. “He did not do it following the constitution of the Orthodox Church,” Michal Dvořáček, a member of the parish council and secretary of the clergy, told reporters.

An article that appeared on the website of the Union of Orthodox Journalists, an association that defends the interests of the canonical Orthodoxy, stated that Slaninka arbitrarily appointed himself the leader of the community in Czech Brno, ignoring the ruling bishop and the faithful. “The administration should remain in the hands of our long-term spiritual father and administrator of the parish.”, said Dvořáček. Bishop Isaiah declined to comment.

“Anyone who has been watching the situation, has seen the more than eight months of agony of the dedicated and loving believers of our parish for the return of the spiritual administrator of the Brno parish, father Jozef Fejsak, to the position he has honestly held for almost 40 years, will quickly understand what the current leadership of our eparchy is all about”, read a statement on the website of the church community. The congregation is calling upon Archbishop Simeon, who is according to them “its only eparchial administrator”, to set up a meeting to discuss the problems.



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