The Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia



The Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia
The Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia

The Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is a self-governing body of the Orthodox Christian church that territorially covers the countries of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia.
On December 9, 1951, the Patriarch of Moscow granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia, though this action was not recognized by Constantinople, which regarded the Czechoslovakian church as being autonomous under its authority.

The Patriarch of Constantinople later granted a tomos of autocephaly on August 27, 1998.
Almost all of the members of the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church were 20th-century converts from Roman Catholicism, some of whom belonged to the tradition of Greek-Catholicism.
The faithful included Czechs, Moravians, Slovaks and back then Rusyns (Carpatho-Ukraine was a part of Czechoslovakia up to 1945) who felt disenfrachised by the Catholic priests. The conversions and the formation of the Church itself were an attempt to return to Slavic roots and to the teachings of the Saints, Cyril and Methodius, who first converted Moravia & Slovakia in 863.

The faithful of the then Czechoslovak Orthodox Church were Czechoslovak patriots as well as pan-Slavs, and their ranks quickly grew from almost no Eastern Orthodox faithful to 145,000 by the 1931 census (including some 120,000 Ruthenes in Carpatho-Ukraine).
In 1942, the head of the church, Bishop Gorazd, was arrested, tried, tortured and executed by the Nazis. His offense was harboring the conspirators who had assassinated Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich. This involvement caused harsh reprisals for Eastern Orthodox faithful in German-held Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Some 256 Orthodox priests and prominent believers were either executed or deported to slave labor camps in the Third Reich.
Following the end of the war, in 1945, the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church held a memorial service for Bishop Gorazd. Prominent citizens of Prague of all faiths paid their respects to the murdered cleric in the Orthodox Cathedral of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. He is now known as Saint Gorazd, recognized as a martyr by Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

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After 1993

After the Czech and Slovak Republics separated into independent republics in 1993, activity continued in each country as separate legal entities: in the Czech Republic as the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and in the Slovak Republic as the Orthodox Church in Slovakia, but canonical unity was maintained as the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The church is now organized into four eparchies divided into two administrative centers: the Metropolitan Council for the Czech Republic resident in Prague and the Metropolitan Council for the Slovak Republic in Presov. Under the Council in Prague are the eparchies of Prague and Olomouc-Brno, while the eparchies of Presov, and Michalovce are under the Council for Slovakia.
In the Czech Republic, there are 82 parishes, with 51 in Bohemia and 31 in Moravia and Silesia. In the Republic of Slovakia, there are 69 parishes in the eparchy of Presov and 21 in the eparchy of Michalovce. The Orthodox Theological Faculty of the University of Presov provides an education for future priests of combined Church. The faculty maintains a detached branch in Olomouc. The Monastery of St. Procopius of Sazava is located in Most, and that of the Dormition in Vilemov.
The primate is His Beatitude, Metropolitan Christopher of Prague and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, who was elected on May 2, 2006

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