(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Archbishop Emeritus of Prague, to be his special envoy to the July 5-6 events in Prague, marking the 600th anniversary of the death of John Hus (1369-1415).
In an address to the International Symposium on John Hus in 1999, St John Paul II said the Bohemian church reformer, who was condemned of heresy and burnt at the stake, was a "memorable figure," particularly for "his moral courage in the face of adversity and death."
"On the eve of the Great Jubilee, I feel obliged to express deep regret for the cruel death inflicted on John Hus and the resulting wound, a source of conflict and division which was thus opened in the minds and hearts of the Bohemian people,” said St John Paul II.
Hus was born in the Kingdom of Bohemia (now Czech Republic). He was ordained a priest in 1400, and preached reformation in the Church. He was a supporter of some of John Wycliffe’s teachings and was eventually excommunicated, condemned of heresy and killed. His followers came to be known as Hussites.
St John Paul II said "the effort that students can develop to reach a deeper and full understanding of historical truth” was of “crucial importance.”
“Faith has nothing to fear from the commitment of historical research, since the research is also, ultimately, reaching out to the truth that has its source in God," he continued.
"A figure like John Hus, who was a major point of contention in the past, can now become a subject of dialogue, discussion and common study" in the hope that decisive steps can "be made on the path of reconciliation and true unity in Christ," the late pope said.
Cardinal Vlk was the architect of a commission, established in 1993, to study the life, work and person of John Hus.