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The Second Vatican Council and the Czechoslovak State1

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The 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962 has lent a renewed sense of urgency to some questions which have not yet been adequately answered in the field of the social and human sciences. This article focuses on the relationships between the state, the Catholic Church and the Second Vatican Council in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was a good example of a non-democratic regime which limited political and social pluralism. Our present state of knowledge allows us to assume that the Czechoslovak communist regime sought to regulate and channel the attitudes of the country's Catholic Church towards the Council, that the regime did not underestimate the importance of the Council and that from the very beginning it endeavoured to make use of the Council for its own ends, whether by seeking elements supporting the communist position or by neutralising possible anticommunist steps as well as those steps that would revitalise Catholicism as an alternative world view to communism. First this paper focuses on the state's influence on the selection of the Czechoslovak delegation to the Council. After examining these personal aspects, it moves on to analyse the various ways in which the communist regime attempted to impede the Catholic Church's acceptance and application of the results of the Council.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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