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Czechoslovakia: Religious Activists
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Popular Political Expression > Religious Activists


Another aspect of popular political expression during the 1970s and 1980s was religious activism. Czechoslovakia during this time witnessed what was described as a "rebirth of religious faith," especially noticeable among Czechoslovak youth, and greater activism on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. The former was manifested by an increase in young people's church attendance and overall participation in church-related activities. The latter was reflected in a greater number of "underground" church services, greater Catholic clergy and lay involvement in the Charter 77 movement, widespread dissemination of Catholic samizdat publications, and a shift in the position of the church's hierarchy regarding church-state relations. Since the election of a Polish cardinal as pope, the Czech primate, Frantisek Cardinal Tomasek, has taken a more independent stand. He had condemned the Czechoslovak Association of Catholic Clergy (more commonly known as Pacem in Terris), the pro-regime organization of priests, arguing the importance of peace and human rights at the government-sponsored Prague World Peace Assembly in 1983; and increased his support of Charter 77.

Government reaction to the religious activists has been harsh. Repression against the clergy, including arrests, trials, imprisonment, and even raids against homes for elderly priests and nuns, reportedly increased in the 1980s. Also, government restrictions on religious education, church publications, and the number of priests were enforced vigorously. Undoubtedly fearful of its potential impact, the Husak government rejected Pope John Paul II's acceptance of Cardinal Tomasek's 1984 invitation to visit Czechoslovakia.

Data as of August 1987

Last Updated: August 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Czechoslovakia was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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