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religionsArticleFortes in Fide—The Role of Faith in the Heroic Struggleagainst CommunismTerézia RončákováDepartment of Journalism, Catholic University, 03401 Ružomberok, Slovakia; [email protected] Citation: Rončáková, Terézia. 2021.Abstract: Repression and persecution by the totalitarian communist regimes have significantlyaffected the fates of Christian churches and believers in the countries of the “Eastern Bloc”. Manymembers of the clergy and laypersons were incarcerated, tortured and persecuted, several bishopssuffered exemplary punishment in the propaganda-driven show trials and a few of them werelater beatified or canonized across the world (by the Catholic Church). Focusing on the literatureoriginating in Slovakia, this meta-report aimed to summarize the key authors’ essential works andto examine the question as to whether—and to what extent—faith was a contributing factor in thecollapse of the communist regime. What was the role of the churches and believers in the struggleagainst communism? How and to what extent believers were involved in the resistance movementsand the political and economic transformation of their countries that were set in motion by the collapseof those regimes? Based on an analysis of hundreds of books and articles on the subject, essentialideas were extracted, categorized and presented. The works of the persecuted authors were thesubject of a detailed qualitative content analysis. Thus, four overarching dimensions (philosophical,intimate, personal and social/political) and fourteen categories related to the experience of faithwere identified.Keywords: communism; totalitarian regime; Slovakia; church; Christians; persecution; freedomFortes in Fide—The Role of Faith inthe Heroic Struggle againstCommunism. Religions 12: 837.https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100837Academic Editors: Michal Valčo, JoveJim S. Aguas and Kamil KardisReceived: 30 August 2021Accepted: 29 September 2021Published: 8 October 2021Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutralwith regard to jurisdictional claims inpublished maps and institutional affiliations.Copyright: 2021 by the author.Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.This article is an open access articledistributed under the terms andconditions of the Creative CommonsAttribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).1. Introduction“Your faith has healed you”—this recurring phrase of the Gospel (Mt 9:22; Mk 5:34; Mk10:52; Lk 7:50; Lk 8:48; Lk 17:19; Lk 18:42) illuminates the essential role that faith plays inthe life of a believing Christian. Within the realm of Christian theology, faith has the powerto effect a profound transformation of one’s life and behavior in specific circumstances.This is an obvious fact because people always think and act based on what they believe.Faith is not just an abstract philosophical proposition about what does or does not exist“above us”; it is “a decision involving one’s whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, acommunion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and theLife (cf. Jn 14:6). It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as helived (cf. Gal 2:20), in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters” (Paul 1993; Veritatissplendor, Art. 88).The key question addressed herein is the role of faith in the struggle against communism in Slovakia in the period 19451 –1989. Naturally, within the cultural context ofSlovakia (and, for that matter, Czechoslovakia), we limited our examination solely tothe implications of the Christian faith that was lived in various church communities inSlovakia (mainly Catholic—both Roman and Greek, but also Lutheran and other Protestantchurches). The role of faith in the struggle for freedom was examined as part of the Faithand Freedom project2 . It also included gathering testimonies (oral history) in the formof in-depth interviews and performing a comprehensive review of existing literature onthe subject. The corpus of works is gradually amended and it currently contains 405items, which means that, to some extent, it can already be regarded as representative. Aquantitative analysis of the corpus of literature was presented elsewhere (Rončáková 2021)Religions 2021, 12, 837. i.com/journal/religions

Religions 2021, 12, 8372 of 15with a focus on the chronology of publications on faith and struggle against communism inSlovakia; a composition of the literature in terms of genre, topic and stories of the peoplecovered; and the most prolific authors and publishers on the subject. Here, we will focuson the central ideas concerning faith contained in those works.2. Methodology and State of the ArtWe distilled the key categories of the role of faith in the heroic struggle againstcommunism from the literature on the subject using the method of qualitative contentanalysis. This included a thorough reading of essential books and articles and identifyingthe overlaps and recurring ideas. This effort was by no means simple as the categorieshad to be extracted from various subjective reflections or texts covering the subject onlypartially (Table 1). The autobiographies and biographies subject to our review (172 in total)usually included facts and stories, which were rather scarcely intertwined with reflectionson faith. Monographs and collections of works (113 in total), as well as scholarly studies(112 in total), usually focused on various aspects of key historic events, with the underlyingquestions, such as faith, bubbling under the surface as an essential determinant but notaddressed explicitly by the authors.Table 1. Number of publications.GenreTotalSlovak ted collections272712811277450406MemoirsStudies and articlesDocumentsTotalObviously, in addition to the corpus of literature that was subject to this review, thereare many other works available that in one way or another cover the personal fates of peoplesuffering during communism; however, those works were not considered, at least directly,because they did not address (to the extent we considered relevant) faith and its role per se.Nevertheless, they were regarded for the purpose hereof as additional supporting literature.This category included sources covering general history (Kováč et al. 1999; Lettrich 1993;Lipták 1998); Slovak exile (Braxátor 1992); philosophical, sociological or political essays(Kusý 1990; Letz 1996; Šimečka 1990; Šimko 1994; Zemko 2002); memoirs of politicians(Gašpar 1998; Chňoupek 1998), artists (Mittelman-Dedinský 2001), publicists (Ottmar1996), political prisoners without religious background; and novels (both autobiographicaland fictional).As the first step, the publications were sorted into chronological order (Figure 1). Ofcourse, prior to 1990, this genre was published only rarely—these included books printedabroad and illegally smuggled into Slovakia. This portion of the literature review is notrepresented systematically and it remains quite random; in addition, the works publishedin Slovakia as samizdat were excluded. The corpus of texts includes those from the periodafter 1990. In the early 1990s, publishers focused mainly on memoirs and autobiographies.In the late 1990s, the number of publications increased, mainly due to new monographsand biographies. After 2001, one can observe a drop in the publication activity, but after2006, the number of published materials has increased significantly. Today we are goingthrough the most prolific period in terms of new publications on the given subject.

Religions 2021, 12, 837Religions 2021, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW3 of 153 of 16Figureof publications.publications.Figure 1.1. TimelineTimeline ofAnavailableononthetheroleroleof faithin societyin difAn literatureis isavailableof faithin edtothestruggleagainstcommunism.different contexts that are not specifically related to the struggle against communism. I.I.Gazda,Gazda, forfor instance,instance, focusedfocused onon the potential of using personal stories or testimonies ofGodRončáková suggested thatGod in media for evangelization purposes (Gazda 2012), T. Rončákovásome culture war attitudes cannot be understoodunderstood beyondbeyond thethe domaindomain ofof faithfaith (Rončáková(Rončáková2018),2018), J.J. R. de Oliveira examined the role of the church from the perspective of humanegeographygeography withwith a focus on the new dynamics of the hyper-modern societies and spatialcyber-transformationcyber-transformation (de(de OliveiraOliveira 2019),2019), H.H. TkáčováTkáčová exploredexplored thethe unityunity and the entirety(Tkáčová 2014), M. Gavendaof faith and human life in the context of postmodern culture (Tkáčováof faithin thehealinghealingof currentculture(Gavendadiscussed thethesignificancesignificanceof faithinintegralthe integralof visualcurrentvisualculture2016), J. E. 2016),HaganJ.examinedimpact theof faithon theemotionsof emotionssportspersons(Hagan(GavendaE. Hagan theexaminedimpactof faithon theof sportsper2021)(andvariousthe roleof faith inscience(e.g.,Valčoand BoehmesonsHagan2021)otherand worksvariousaddressedother worksaddressedtherole offaithin icultlifesituations(Desrosiers2020,instance,Valčo and Boehme 2017) or the role of faith in coping with difficult lifeforsituationsexamined theroleforofinstance,faith in thelife of edthe role ofHIVfaithsurvivors).in the life oflong-term HIVsura wholeFurthermore,array of sociologicalthe roleof faith in variousaspectsof life(in thevivors).there is studiesa wholeonarrayof sociologicalstudies onthe roleof faithinSlovak context,summarized,e.g., intheseTížikwereand summarized,Zeman (2017)).e.g., in Tížik andvariousaspects theseof lifewere(in theSlovak ithin the heroic struggle againstZeman nedabovea detailedexaminationThe aim of our research was to examine the role of faith in andthe hoslovakiaduringcommunism,thefollowingtencommunism in Slovakia. Based on the review mentioned above and a detailed d“hiddenchurch”anddissentweretion of the history of the church in Czechoslovakia during communism, the following tenselected: FrantišekMikloško,Čarnogurský,Ján ChryzostomKorec, SilvesterKrčméry,essentialworks fromthe keyJánactorsof the so-called“hidden church”and venda,AntonNeuwirth,OtoMádr,BohumilVítselected: František Mikloško, Ján Čarnogurský, Ján Chryzostom Korec, Silvester hekeyfiguresoftheSlovakandCzechchurches,34Tomislav Poglajen Kolakovič , Marián Gavenda , Anton Neuwirth, Oto Mádr, Bohumilas wellas Christiandemocraticpolitics.Primarysourceswere amendedusingandsecondaryVítTajovskýand LadislavKubíček.Theseare thekey figuresof the alfigures,suchasJ.Palaščák’saccountof thelifechurches, as well as Christian democratic politics. Primary sources were workontheimprisonednunsandA.Drda’ssecondary literature, i.e., works focusing on individual figures, such as J. Palaščák’s acaccountofChryzostomAugustín Navrátil.countof ofthethelifestoryof JánKorec, K. Himmerová’s work on the imprisoned nunsSelectedworksweremadesubjectto a detailedqualitative analysis in line with theand A. Drda’s account of thestoryof AugustínNavrátil.rulesSelectedrequiredworksby thismethod(HornigPriest1996,p. 114). Basedon theanalysis,14were made subject to a detailed qualitativeanalysisin linewith ainstcommunismwereidentified.rules required by this method (Hornig Priest 1996, p. 114). Based on the analysis, 14 cateThe formulationofroleindividualwas againstdeterminedby the keyof Theourgoriescovering theof faith categoriesin the strugglecommunismwerequestionidentified.research: What was the essential and most significant aspect of experiencing faith by theseformulation of individual categories was determined by the key question of our research:leaders in the context of the communist repression? Fourteen categories were rearrangedWhat was the essential and most significant aspect of experiencing faith by these leaders

Religions 2021, 12, 8374 of 15based on their inherent interrelations and allocated into four interpretative dimensions; theideas of witness, martyrdom and sacrifice were sustained as the primary underlying basisfor all four dimensions (Table 2).Table 2. Research categories.OverarchingDimension1.CategoryWitness, martyrdom and sacrifice2.Occurrences4The danger of comfort4The essence of being human54.Truth25.Communion with God6Primacy of faith77.God’s will and the Cross38.Faith as a source of support and meaning39.Human nternal freedom312.Indivisibility of faith and life2Driving force of the society4Reconciliation and forgiveness413.PersonalSocial and political14.The table above also includes the number of occurrences of individual topics inthe works that were subject to the review. However, for the purpose of this study, thequantitative element is not of primary importance, it is only regarded as secondary. For thesake of being succinct and understandable, only the relevant passages are quoted in thedescriptions of individual categories below.3. ResultsEach of the individual categories outlined above is discussed in more detail in thefollowing sections.3.1. Witness, Martyrdom and SacrificeThroughout the history of the church, people of strong character willing to suffer oreven give one’s life for the matter of fai