Czech Church slams Prague cardinal inclusion in 'dirty dozen'

The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic on Friday protested against the inclusion of the archbishop of Prague in a "dirty dozen" list of potential papal candidates accused of protecting paedophile priests or making offensive public statements.

Clergy sex abuse victims published the list on Wednesday, citing a dozen cardinals from across the world.

The US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, cited Prague archbishop Dominik Duka over his claim that only 10 percent of accusations against priests were proven.

"Cardinal Duka is in no way a man who would cover things up," the Prague archbishopric said in a statement.

"But he has made it clear that the abuse problem is not only a matter for the Catholic Church but of society as a whole," it said.

The statement said the criticism of Duka was "unfounded" and "comes at a time when media are extremely interested in cardinals' meetings because of the upcoming conclave to choose a new pope, and cardinals who are not at home and have pledged reticence cannot defend themselves."

"Cardinal Duka has always insisted... on supporting all steps that will prevent abuses," it added.

It also pointed out that church schools were not allowed under the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989, when most abuse cases are believed to have occurred in the world.

"Paradoxically, the church here steered clear of the problem thanks to Communism," it said.