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Religious emancipation

A process of emancipation of the religious communities from the State started in 1848.

In December 1867 a new liberal Constitution came into being for the Cisleithan Regions of the Empire. The basis of this Constitution was a secularised State, based on the principle of cooperation with religious communities, and on their parity. The right to be recognised by the State was given to all religious communities which respected its legal demands (1874). The newly recognised religious communities, such as Old Catholic Church and Moravian Brethren (Herrnhut Church) could join in teaching religion in public schools and taking religious services in the army. The stipends of priests, pastors and rabbis were financed partly by the religious communities and partly by the State (congrua or subsidies). The acknowledged religious communities were supported by the State in proportion to the number of official declarations of religious affiliation made to the municipalities.

The Republic of Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918 with the dissolution of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, adopted the legislation of the Habsburg monarchy.

From 1920 the Constitution declared the freedom of religion to individuals. Children who belonged to religious communities were obliged to attend lessons in religious education in public schools.

Because the suffering of people during the World War I was high and Catholic Church was accused of having too close a relationship with the Habsburg dynasty, more than 20% of the Czech people gave up their membership of the Catholic Church. Approximately one half of them founded the new Czechoslovak Church, a smaller part converted to Protestantism, and a much smaller group to Eastern Orthodoxy. The rest became non denominational. A total of 75% of the Czech people remained nevertheless in the Roman Catholic Church.

On 17th December 1918 the Czech Protestants of Augsburg and Helvetic confessions unified to the Evangelic Church of Czech Brethren. Legal order of this Church is presbyterian.

On 8th January 1920 the Czechoslovak Church was founded by 150 catholic priests. This Church unites both Catholic and Protestant aspects of worship and teaching and emphasizes the spiritual connection with revived Hussite tradition. This Church has used the name "The Czechoslovak Hussite Church" since 1971.

In 1927 a modus vivendi was concluded between the representatives of the Czechoslovak Government and the Apostolic See. It concerned all the processes of the appointment of diocesan bishops in Czechoslovakia.

D 12 October 2012    AZáboj Horák

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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