Metropolitan Rastislav of Czech Lands and Slovakia in interview with

Basilica.roWhat are the most important problems that the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church experienced during the communist regime? How did you manage to overcome them?

HB Met. Rastislav: Our local Church has not experienced such persecutions on a large scale, as was the case, for example, of the Russian Orthodox Church in Soviet Russia. Of course, there was total control over the clergy, but this cannot be called open hostility. In the late 1950s, the Uniate parishes in Slovakia were forcibly attached to the Orthodox Church, which were like delay-action mines for future generations.

Because of violence, following the so-called Prague Spring in 1968, mass return to Uniatism started accompanied by violence and incitement to mutual antagonism. Following the so-called Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the state returned the Uniate places of worship, expropriating at the same time the Orthodox Church. The distribution of properties began, while Orthodox priests were banished from churches. Many communities were forced to pray in private houses, often very inadequate to serve. Other communities set up altars under the open sky, where divine services and Holy Mysteries were officiated. In return for the places of worship taken, the State allocated monetary compensations, which, of course, were insufficient for the construction of other places of worship.

Because it was impossible to employ architects and professional builders, the believers have raised funds, provided building materials, and built new churches through their efforts, according to their possibilities. For this reason, many buildings are now in deplorable condition and require major repairs and investments. Furthermore, we are facing the problem of insufficient places of worship in the cities. The rural population is aging and young people who have moved to the cities are left without the possibility of spiritual guidance. Only now, we have been able to build and consecrate places of worship in Bratislava and in Kosice, the most populated cities in the country. Undoubtedly, this is just the beginning and it will require much effort and financial investment to enable people living in big cities to find a church or to establish their own ecclesiastical community for a full spiritual life. Young people are the future of the Church. How does the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia respond to the problems young people are facing?

HB Met. Rastislav: The young generation represents the future of each nation and every state and, therefore, of the Church. For us, it is a priority to educate children and youth in traditional families, where there are a father and a mother, brothers, and sisters, in which respect for the elderly is maintained and children are brought up according to the traditions of their people, their culture, commitment and love for their homeland.

Our Church is separate from the state, but our priests have the opportunity to teach religious education in public schools. We have the Orthodox Youth Fellowship comprised of groups of young people from different parishes. Fellowship organizes joint meetings, seminars, summer camps, sports events that give young people the opportunity to fully communicate, to study Theology and to participate in church life. Thanks to the personal experiences acquired in the Fellowship, many young people later enter spiritual schools, receive theological education and become priests of the Orthodox Church. How is the Czech and Slovak Church involved in society?

HB Met. Rastislav: Although our local Church is constitutionally separate from the state, it benefits from its support, and the life of the Church is an integral part of the society. It cannot be limited to philanthropic actions, to hospitals, orphanages or retirement homes for the elderly, to religious education in schools.

The mission of the Church in the world is not only social work or helping the needy, but also prayer, proclaiming the Word of God, and carefully keeping the Truth of the Gospel. Saint Paul quotes: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).


Basilica.roThe Church is present online and tends to become more and more present on social media networks. Do you think that cyberspace is suitable or not for spreading the evangelical message?

HB Met. Rastislav: Cyberspace has become an integrated part of modern human life. Many people, because of their profession or their voluntary lifestyle, become recluses of the cyberspace. Concepts such as corrected reality and virtual reality become a life norm for young people and therefore only using technology can we reach and help them find Christ. In today’s society, the opinion is strengthened that if an event does not appear on the Internet, then it loses its relevance.

Unfortunately, this spirit also penetrates into the Church due to which acuity of perception and the depth of spiritual life are lost. However, we cannot completely abandon the Internet; otherwise, life in the Church схwill be perceived as an anachronism, which is of no interest to the modern man, and genuine spiritual values will be replaced by a corrected, virtual reality.

*** If you were to make a prognosis, where do you see Orthodoxy in ten years from now?

HB Met. Rastislav: It is quite risky to make a forecast for such a long period given the developing world today with its stunning speed, the spread of the Internet, and the development of technologies in various fields of human activity. Judging by what is happening in our country, Orthodoxy awakens interest in people seeking the unaltered faith and authentic traditions that have completely disappeared for example at other Christian confessions.

Many contemporary persons, tired of informational pressure, seek spiritual peace in the solitude of monasteries. I strongly believe that today the Orthodox Church needs the inviolable and actual evangelical values to be strengthened by the example of one’s life, and given these conditions, I can see a bright future of the Church not only for the next ten years but also over a thousand years.


His Beatitude Rastislav, Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, is the youngest among the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

His Beatitude Rastislav, Archbishop of Presov, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

Metropolitan Rastislav (by his secular name Rastislav Gont) was born on the 25 January 1978 in Snina, Slovakia. His Beatitude Rastislav in his ministry strives for a strengthening of the pastoral activities and liturgical life of the Church.

He is a member of the Scientific Council of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the University of Prešov, over which he has a canonical supervision according to the Constitution.

Due to his active contributions to the different public and church events, he has gained a good status in the society and is a member of different panels.

He has knowledge of the Russian and Greek languages and passively the German, English, Polish and Serbian languages.