Archd., 2; dioc., 5; ap. ex., 1; card., 2; abp., 3; bp., 15; parishes, 1,490; priests, 2,474 (1,893 dioc., 581 rel.); p.d., 21; sem., 867; bros., 243 ; srs., 2,832; catechists, 1,931; bap., 42,323; Caths., 4,034,000 (74%); tot. pop., 5,400,000.
Independent state (January 1, 1993); formerly part of Czechoslovakia; capital, Bratislava. Christianity was introduced in Slovakia in the eighth century by Irish and German missionaries, and the area was under the jurisdiction of German bishops. In 863, Sts. Cyril and Methodius began pastoral and missionary work in the region, ministering to the people in their own language. A diocese established at Nitra in 880 had a continuous history except for a century ending in 1024. The Church in Slovakia was severely tested by the Reformation and political upheavals. After World War I, when it became part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, it was 75 percent Catholic.
Vigorous persecution of the Church began in Slovakia in 1944, when communists mounted an offensive against bishops, priests, and religious. [In 1945, Church schools were nationalized, youth organizations were disbanded, the Catholic press was curtailed, the training of seminaries was seriously impeded.] Msgr. Josef Tiso, a Catholic priests who served a president of the Slovak Republic from 1935-45, was tried for "treason" in December 1946 and was executed in following April.
In 1972, the government ordered the removal of nuns from visible but limited apostolates to farms and mental hospitals. In 1973, the government allowed the ordination of three bishops in the Slovak region. [Reports from Slovakia late in the same year stated that authorities there had placed severe restriction on the education of seminarians and the work of priests.]
When Slovakia split from Czechoslovakia in 1993, the country slid into economic difficulties. Church-state tension increased, and the Slovakian government eventually apologized to Bishop Rudolf Balaz of Banska Bystrica, whose house was raided in a government investigation of stolen art. In an attempt to fight the effects of decades of communism in 1996, the bishops said all adult Catholics who had not received confirmation must undergo a special two-year catechism course. In 2000, the government and Vatican signed an accord establishing the Church's legal status.
(The above exert comes from Our Sunday Visitor's 2004 Catholic Almanac and is used on this web site with the publisher's permission.)