Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church
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|Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia|
|Founder||Ss. Cyril and Methodius|
|Recognition||Autocephaly recognised in 1951 by the Russian Orthodox Church and in 1998 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.|
|Headquarters||Prague, Czech Republic
|Territory||Czech Republic and Slovakia|
Official website in the Czech Republic (in Czech)Official website in Slovakia (in Slovak)
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The Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is a self-governing body of the Eastern Orthodox Church that territorially covers the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Archbishop Rastislav of Prešov was elected by the Extraordinary Synod held on January 11, 2014, as the new primate. On December 9, 2013 the Synod had removed Archbishop Simeon of Olomouc and Brno from his position as Locum Tenens (ad interim administrator following the resignation of the previous primate, Archbishop Krystof, over allegations of sexual relations with women), and appointed Archbishop Rastislav in his place, an action against which Archbishop Simeon protested and which was deplored by Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.
The Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia presents both an ancient history as well as a very modern history. The present day church occupies the land of Moravia, where the brothers Ss. Cyril and Methodius began their mission to the Slavs, introducing the liturgical and canonical order of the Orthodox Church, translated into the Church Slavonic language. In doing this they developed the first Slavic alphabet. This mission was destroyed after Methodius died in 885, as Pope Stephen V of Rome forced all disciples of the brothers to leave the countryside which is now the Czech Republic. The Orthodox order survived in present day Slovakia due to its nearness and influence to Kievan Rus' until the union with Rome was instituted by the Viennese Court[clarification needed].
After the legal restraints to Orthodoxy were removed with the end of World War I, many people left the Greek Catholic Church. Many looked to the Serbian Orthodox Church as parts of the Serbian church had been within the pre-war union[clarification needed]. Among those seeking the Orthodox church was a Catholic priest, Matěj Pavlík, who had been interested in Orthodox Christianity for years. The Church of Serbia thus consented to consecrate Matěj Pavlík as a bishop of the Orthodox Church with the name Gorazd.
On September 25, 1921, Archimandrite Gorazd was consecrated Bishop of Moravia and Silesia at the Cathedral of the Holy Archangel Michael in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, by Patriarch Dimitri of Serbia. Bp. Gorazd (Pavlik) is considered to be in the succession from Archbishop Methodius of Moravia and bears the name of one of St. Methodius's disciples and successor, Bp. Gorazd.
As the Orthodox leader in the new nation of Czechoslovakia, Bp. Gorazd laid the foundations of the Orthodox Church throughout Bohemia, Moravia, and into Slovakia. In Bohemia, he oversaw the building of eleven churches and two chapels. He also published the essential books for the conduct of church services that were translated in the Czech language. He provided aid to those in Slovakia and Subcarpathian Rus' which then were part of Czechoslovakia, and who wanted to return to Orthodox faith from the union with Rome. Thus, in the interbellum period, Bp. Gorazd built the small Czech church that during World War II would show how firmly it was connected to the Czech nation.
In 1938 the Third Reich succeeded in annexing the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia during the Munich Conference. The following year it annexed the remainder of the Czech lands into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and installed a pro-Nazi regime in Slovakia. By 1942 Reinhard Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution, had become governor of the Protectorate. After the May 27, 1942, assassination attack on Heydrich's car in Prague, Czech partisans took refuge in the crypt of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral before continuing their escape. They were aided by senior church laymen, who kept Bp. Gorazd informed. However, their presence was discovered by the Nazis, and on June 18 the Nazis attacked their hiding place in the cathedral, forcing them to commit suicide. The Orthodox priests, laymen, and Bp. Gorazd were arrested and killed by firing squads on September 4, 1942.
In reprisal the Nazis forbade the church to operate in Bohemia and Moravia. Churches and chapels were closed, and a rounding up of Czechs was conducted, including the whole village of Lidice, whose inhabitants were either killed or sent to forced labor camps. For the Orthodox the whole church fell under the Nazi persecution and was decimated. A total of 256 Orthodox priests and laymen were executed, and church life came to a stop.
After World War II the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia began its recovery without its bishop. 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 issued a Tomos, or official proclamation, of autocephaly in 1998.
The martyrdom of Bp. Gorazd was recognized by the Serbian Orthodox Church on May 4, 1961, which glorified Gorazd as a New Martyr. Subsequently, on August 24, 1987, he was glorified at the Cathedral of St. Gorazd in Olomouc, Moravia.
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 Prešov. Under the Council of the Czech Lands (Prague) are the eparchies of Prague and Olomouc-Brno, while the eparchies of Prešov and Michalovce are under the Council of Slovakia (Prešov).
After the death of Metropolitan Dorotheus of Prague and All Czechoslovakia, Archbishop Nicholas of Prešov was elected the new metropolitan, and the church's primatial see was moved from Prague to Prešov. Metr. Nicholas reposed on January 30, 2006, and was replaced by Archbishop Christopher of Prague and the Czech Lands (elected May 2, 2006).
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 90 parishes, with 69 in the eparchy of Prešov and 21 in the eparchy of Michalovce. The Orthodox Theological Faculty of the University of Prešov 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.
Head of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is Christopher of Prague (Radim Pulec), Metropolitan of Czech Lands and Slovakia (2006-2014).
Arcdioceses and Archbishops
- Archdiocese of Prešov and Slovakia : Rastislav (Gont), Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia (since 2014)
- Archdiocese of Prague and Czech Lands : Jachým (Hrdý) (since 2014)
- Diocese of Brno and Olomouc : vacant (since 2014)
- Diocese of Michalovce and Košice : George (Stránský) (since 2007)
Vicar Dioceses and Bishops
- CNEWA - Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
- New head of Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia elected
- Prague Daily Monitor, "Czech Orthodox Church split over money, archbishop"
- Communiqué of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Land and in Slovakia
- Statement of Archbishop Simeon
- Pravoslavná Církev v Českých Zemích a na Slovensku Text of Patriarch Bartholomew in Czech translation, original Greek, and English translation
- "Metropolitan Herman concludes Official Visit to the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia". Orthodox Church in America. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Official website in the Czech Republic
- Official website in Slovakia (in Slovak)
- Prague Eparchy of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands (in Czech)
- Electronic edition of the magazine "Icon"
- Pages about the orthodox Church in the Czech Republic (in Czech)
- Overview of the Church (scroll down)
- Article on the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics by Ronald Roberson on the CNEWA web site