Exhibition: Dictatorship vs. Hope. Persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia 1948–1989

24. 11. 2012

A festive opening of the exhibition “Dictatorship vs. Hope” will take place at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome on Monday 26th November 2012. The exhibition will be open for the public from 27th November 2012 to 31st January 2013.

Basic information about the exhibition:
Authors of texts: Petr Koura, David Lorenz, Alena Nosková, Jan Stříbrný, Jaroslav Šebek, Alena Šimánková, Vladimíra Vaníčková, Stanislava Vodičková
Translation: Pavla Krejčířová
Graphics: Pavel Vodička
Acknowledgements: Authors thank to all co-workers, institutions, religious orders and congregations for the provision of the originals of the documents and for their selfless help.
Place: Rome

The basic intention of the exhibition (24 panels altogether), which is organized by the Embassy of the Czech Republic at the Holy See, the Archive of the Office of the President of the Czech Republic, and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, is to map the breadth of the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church by the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia, describing the instruments of power as well as concrete methods used for the destruction of the Church or spiritual life of society and also ways by means of which the Church faced those pressures.

Historical connections are presented in a supranational context with the Czechoslovak-Vatican aspects emphasized, including the fates of persons working in exile (e.g. Josef Cardinal Beran, Tomáš Cardinal Špidlík). Last but not least, the exhibition brings so far unpublished documents (e.g. a personal letter of John Paul II to G. Husák) and photographs (e.g. from the spying on church representatives and the Catholic dissent by the communist secret police).

At the same time, the exhibition stresses spiritual traditions connected with reverence for our national saints and the context of the development of our catholic environment within its relation to papacy, which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the II Vatican Council. The emphasis on the spiritual legacy that came up from the legacy of missionaries, Saints Cyril and Methodius, is one of the contributions of the Czech archivists and historians to the upcoming 1150th anniversary of the arrival of their mission in 2013.

The exhibition was supported by the Czech Bishops’ Conference. Among partners of this project there are important scientific institutions of the Czech Republic – apart from others the National Archive and the Institute of History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. It is held under the honorary auspices of Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the State Secretary of the Holy See, Miroslava Němcová, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Dominik Cardinal Duka, the Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia, and Prof. Jiří Drahoš, the President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.


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  • Here are our roots.

    (Blessed John Paul II, 22nd April 1990, Velehrad)

    They wanted to become part of those nations and to share their destiny in everything. Here, in this place, at Velehrad, in Moravia, we can feel the historical legacy of the kingdom in a peculiar way – we can feel even those who became its keepers and guardians.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • For us, people of the present age, their apostolate contains even the elocution of the ecumenical appeal, i.e. to build unity again, in a peaceful reconciliation, which later after their deaths was heavily damaged, and in the first place the unity between the East and the West.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • Their work is also a very important contribution to the growth of the common Christian roots of Europe, which by their firmness and viability create one of the main contact points, which must be respected by every serious attempt at reunification of our continent in a new and topical way.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

  • The story of both brothers, Cyril and Methodius, is a distinct example of unity.

    Saints Cyril and Methodius contributed, to a great extent, to the building of Europe, not only regarding its Christian religious community but also concerning its civil and cultural unity.

    (Blessed John Paul II)

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  • Senát PČRVláda ČR
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