Church representatives want to increase the common knowledge of John Huss (Jan Hus), a Czech 15th-century church reformer burned at the stake in 1415, Tomas Halik, president of the Czech Christian Academy, told journalists yesterday.

In the days to come, a renewed ecumenical commission will launch a web page on Huss and a television series as well as special exhibitions will be prepared, Halik said.

The churches are getting ready for the 500th anniversary of Huss’ death in 2015.

"The famous Czech church reformer was appropriated by a number of political regimes," Halik said.

"His personality was painted in a biased picture for decades. We want to jointly reprieve this and to push Huss closer to the public," Halik said.

However, not only research into and examination of historical sources, but, above all, the presentation of results will be the main objective of the commission, he added.

"We would like to launch various publications and organise exhibitions and seminars. We are also planning a television series that will depict the transformations of Huss as a symbol in Czech history," Halik said.

A commission that was to interpret Huss’ role in Czech and world history was set up in the early 1990s.

In 1999, Pope John Paul II expressed regret at Huss’ death and recognised his place among church reformers.

"The ecumenical commission meets again after many years. This time, it will place a greater emphasis on the international aspect," Halik said.

"Huss was a major figure of not only Czech, but also European history. Besides, his fate and effort can also inspire the present-day generation," Halik said.

The renewed commission will consist of 19 dignitaries of the three most important churches in the Czech Republic, the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.

Representatives of other institutions such as the Czech Academy of Sciences and Faculty of Arts of Charles University will attend its regular meetings.

The commission will include Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka and his predecessor, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk.

Huss (c. 1369-1415) resolutely criticised the Catholic church’s arbitrary behaviour in the early 15th century and called for a return to the poor church. He was excommunicated for his activities. He, however, refused to revoke his teaching and was burnt at the stake by a decision of the Church Council in Constance, Germany, on July 6, 1415.

His life and work inspired the subsequent Hussite reformation movement.