Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia
The Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia continues the missionary work of the Slavonic apostles St Cyril and St Methodius, who came to this territory in the 9th century. After the passing away of St Methodius in 885, their mission was consistently reduced by force and eventually replaced by the Roman Catholic Church. Later on the Czech territory came under the Austro-Hungarian empire and Orthodox priests from Austria served the Orthodox believers. In the second half of the 19th century and especially in the 20th century many believers returned to the Orthodox Church and established the Czech Orthodox diocese under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In 1942 the bishop was executed by the fascists and the Czech Orthodox Church was outlawed. After the end of World War II the Czech Orthodox diocese joined the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Orthodox Church in the territory of today's Slovakia was a part of the diocese of Mukacevo (Ukraine) until the end of 17th century. After the forced liquidation of Orthodoxy and the subsequent establishment of the Uniate (Greek-Catholic) Church, the Orthodox believers in Slovakia were ministered to by the priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church from the territory of Hungary. After the end of World War I, the diocese of Mukacevo and Presov, under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church, was established. After World War II the Orthodox believers who lived in Slovakia requested the Russian Orthodox Church for their own jurisdiction. In 1950 the Orthodox diocese of Presov was established. The Russian Orthodox Church granted the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia autocephaly in 1951. This was not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate which, however, granted by its Tomos, after resolution of pending canonical questions, autocephaly in 1998 to the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
The church has two dioceses in Slovakia, where about two-thirds of its members live, and two in the Czech Republic with one-third of the members. The highest body of the church is the church council. Due to the fact that the church exists on the territories of two independent republics it has two executive bodies - the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic in Prague, and the Metropolitan Council of the Orthodox Church in the Slovak Republic in Presov. According to the constitution, the archbishop of Prague or of Presov can become the head of the church, with the title "Metropolitan". The highest canonical authority of the church is the holy synod, which consists of the four bishops from the two republics.
The church has eight monasteries and one secondary school. The candidates for the priesthood, teachers of religion and ethics and social workers, are trained at the Orthodox theological faculty of Presov University (Slovakia) and at its detached study centre in Olomouc (Czech Republic). Aware of its diaconial-philanthropic mission, the church has established the Czech Orthodox Filantropia and the Slovak Orthodox Filantropia, to assist those in need, mainly the sick, old, helpless or poor. It has created an orphanage and a soup-kitchen for poor people. The church has also founded the Orthodox academy in Vilemov (Czech Republic), which is active in environmental and sustainable development programmes, and the Orthodox academy in Michalovce (Slovakia).
The church publishes theological literature and two monthly magazines. The Fellowship of the Orthodox Youth - Syndesmos publishes the magazine The Truth. The Orthodox theological faculty publishes the Orthodox Theological Volume, which includes the academic works of the faculty teachers.