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Catholic Charitable Social Work in the Former Czechoslovakia: 
With a Focus on the Czech Lands 
Jakub DOLEŽEL Contact / Kontakt / Kapcsolat
EJMH Vol 11 Issue 1-2 (2016) 79–96;
Received: 3 February 2015; accepted: 30 September 2015; online date: 8 April 2016
Section: Common Past
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Roman Catholic Charity, an organised and community-centred form of volunteer activity in social
and healthcare services exceeding the framework of individual and private benevolence, had seen
years of abundant and – in many aspects – still unrivalled development between the founding
of the independent state of Czechoslovakia (1918) and the onset of the totalitarian Communist
regime (1948). As the Communist Party took control of the country, the entire system of charity
was dissolved, in contrast to the neighbouring countries of the Soviet Bloc (East Germany, Poland
and Hungary) where some forms were allowed to function. The objective of the present study is
to map out those dramatic changes and highlight individual key events and dates. The opening
sections outline the well-developed system of charity that existed before the Communist seizure
of power. The fi nal sections present the developing trends of charitable work after the fall of Communism
in 1989.


Caritas practice, church social work, civil society, communism, Czechoslovakia,
diaconate, dictatorship, helping profession, history, retrospect

Corresponding author

Palacký University Olomouc
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology
Department of
Christian Social Work
Na Hradě 5, CZ-771 11 Olomouc
Czech Republic