Interview ČT24: Bishop of Pilsen Tomáš Holub
Between 1996 and 1997, Holub worked as a military chaplain in the former Yugoslavia, where he saw images of war with his own eyes. Besides the immediate danger of war, the strongest experience for him was a direct encounter with soldiers and locals. “It was a personal conversation with those I was listening to. There were hundreds and thousands of intense conversations, when I was quiet and people were talking.”
According to him, the current situation also raises existential doubts in many people. “I feel there’s a kind of existential angst that shakes fundamental certainties. It’s very serious in these conversations,” he said. “The things we think we can pin our hopes on are lucky that the foundations seem unstable and sway,” he said.
According to him, justice, which gives meaning to life even in borderline situations, when the remaining values are meaningless, resides in principles that transcend man. “I believe that these are values that transcend the horizons of the visible and the horizons of human life on Earth. If there were no such values, I have no answer.”
Religion as a driving force of ideology
According to Holub, it is often difficult to deal with the fact that violence is committed by people professing a religion. “In Bosnia, I realized that nationalism and religion are the two most powerful drivers of ideology. And in a time when religion is not about a personal relationship with God, but about a structure of values that we protect or even fight for, it can turn into something completely insane,” he says.
He sees the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to President Vladimir Putin and endorsing the invasion of Ukraine in this context.
“I fear that the conflict has an even deeper dimension, which makes it even more difficult and dramatic. That it is not just a struggle for power, but for a certain vision of the world in which, unfortunately, the Orthodox Church co-creates views of salvation, where it allegedly fights for the values that are right and that European liberalism has trampled on in. I am afraid of this ideological dimension,” he adds. he.
We have to accept refugees knowing that we don’t understand a lot of things, says Holub
As a result of the war, more than four million people fled Ukraine, and more than 300,000 of them went to the Czech Republic. Bishop Tomáš Holub says he feels proud to see the wave of solidarity from Czech citizens. At the same time, however, he calls for help so as not to fall quickly.
He likens the current wave of interest in helping to the initial stages of a relationship that needs to be worked on. “What we’ve been through is similar to falling in love and being very upset.” It’s like when you enter a normal relationship for love, just like the hangover doesn’t have to come from helping, but from a good relationship with each other, ”he adds.
He advises people who host war refugees to accept mutual misunderstandings. “My advice is to believe that they may not understand them at all. And that acceptance does not depend on our domestic criteria and that they do not have dream refugees at home, but people of flesh and blood. Keep that difference in mind.”
He finds the message and the consolation before the approach of Easter in the hope which, according to the bishop of Pilsen, must be strong.
“It’s important to have hope that doesn’t waver. It’s also associated with Easter. This crisis shows that there are values for which it makes sense to lay down your life. If they weren’t , then Ukrainians live like those who listen to President Putin. And also that there are values that transcend the horizon of this life and are a hope that will last even in such difficult situations and that is true. There is no It’s not just about playing on hope,” he said.
“I believe that in connection with the one who saved this world, it is possible to have a hope which, even when we see the evil, does not lead us to be afraid, but to say that we are stronger”, he concludes.