Fr. Josef Toufar: the story the Communists tried to hide

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The life of Fr. Josef Toufar was brought to the Vatican 70 years after his death, in the form of a book and documentary. It is a way for Catholics to get to know the Czechoslovakian priest and martyr, who was tortured and died under Communist rule.

Producer, Documentary “If we were to Die Today”
“He served as a paster in Czechoslovakia from 1940-1950 and it was during the Communist regime. It was all about the fight of the Communist regime against the Catholic Church. He was a hero because he didn't say anything. He didn't confess anything and before he died, he was beaten to the death.

Author, Book “If we were to Die Today”
“It is a very elementary story, in the sense that totalitarian communist power arrested an ordinary rural priest, tortured him, put on him a mask of a criminal, murdered him and then buried him like a dog on the outskirts of Prague.”

This torture was spurred by a miracle in his parish of a cross moving on the altar. It drew Communist attention and they accused Fr. Josef of making it all up. 

Despite the torture, the priest never spoke and was killed as a result. He was buried in a secret tomb, so pilgrims couldn't find him. 

Author, Book “If we were to Die Today”
The film is a narrative about the story of Josef Toufar. It is told by a member of the state police Robert Skerl, who was one of his torturers, but repented of his actions. Later he left the secret police, and got a civilian job.

Years later, Fr. Josef's tomb was moved. It is now a pilgrimage site, where prayers are offered in remembrance of him and in memory of the Communists who took his life back in 1950.

Melissa Butz

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