The New Evangelization - Europe

– Republic in eastern Europe: capital, Warsaw. The first evidence of Christianity dates from the late 9th century. Its spread among Slavic peoples was aided by their political union in the 10th century. The first diocese in Poland was established in 968. Civil wars brought anti-Christian oppression in the 11th century, but the Church endured and flourished. It was a powerful force for order during the Mongol invasions. The Reformation converted many among the upper classes to Protestantism, but made little progress among the peasants. A successful Counter-Reformation by the Jesuits was completed by 1632. Religious unity helped unite Poland against its enemies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the country was partitioned among Austria, Prussia and Russia, with new government controls. In the Russian segment, Eastern-rite uniate Catholics were forced to return to Orthodoxy. In 1919 Poland’s independence was restored and the Church revived. In 1939 Poland was invaded by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. After the war, the Communist regime suppressed the Church and tried to liquidate it. Bishops, priests, and nuns were arrested. Some concessions to the Church were made in 1956, but it was the election of Cardinal Wojtyla as Pope, and his later visit, that spelled the end of Communist control in Eastern Europe. In the wake of the Church-supported Solidarity movement, the Communist regime crumbled, and full freedom was granted the Church in 1989. Catholics are 96% of the population.

Portugal – Republic in west of the Iberian peninsula: capital, Lisbon. Christianity was introduced before the 4th century. From the 5th to 8th centuries, the Church endured the invasion of barbarians and the spread of heresies (Arianism, Priscillianism and Pelagianism). The Moors ruled from 711, and were not fully expelled until 1249. In 1139, Portugal became an independent kingdom. In the 15th century, her great explorers (de Gama, Cabral, et al) brought a large overseas empire. Her missionaries carried the Faith to overseas colonies, in India, Africa, and South America. The Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries had no effect in Portugal, since the Church there had already undergone serious reform. However, in the 18th century, political tensions developed with the papacy, with religious ramifications. Royal approval was required for papal acts. The Jesuits were expelled from Portugal and the colonies. In the 19th century, liberal revolutionaries made life difficult for the Church. Likewise in the 20th century, until 1928, when the Salazar government regularized Church-state relations.

In 1930, the Church approved devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to three Portuguese children in 1917. It was she whom Pope John Paul II credited with saving his life in the 1981 assassination attempt. Catholics are 93% of the population.

Romania – Republic in SE Europe: capital, Bucharest. Latin Christianity was introduced in the 3rd century, but nearly disappeared during barbarian invasions. The Byzantine rite, introduced by Bulgars at the beginning of the 8th century, took firm roots. The country eventually became Orthodox, but a large number of people later returned to union with Catholic Church. After WWII, Communists took over the government. In 1948, they nationalized schools and confiscated all property belonging to the Eastern-rite Catholic Church, handing it over to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Five of six Latin-rite bishops were disposed of, the sixth sent to prison. In 1949, religious orders were suppressed. The Eastern Church regained liberty in 1990 after the fall of the Communist regime. The hierarchy was restored and diplomatic relations with the Holy See reestablished. Eastern-rite Catholics have struggled—for the most part unsuccessfully—for the return of parish properties. A joint Orthodox-Catholic committee designed to facilitate the restoration of property has been unproductive. Latin-rite Catholics are, for the most part, ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania. Catholics are 8.9% of the population.

San Marino – A republic in NE Italy: capital, San Marino. When Christianity was introduced is unknown, though a diocese was established by the end of the 3rd century. It now belongs to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro in Italy. Catholics are 99% of the population.

Scotland – In the northern British Isles, belonging to United Kingdom: capital, Edinburgh.. Christianity was introduced with the arrival of St. Ninian in 397. In 563, with the arrival of St. Columba and his monks, a new era of evangelization began. The Faith was carried to remote areas by the end of the 6th century. From his influence, the Celtic Church was organized along tribal and monastic lines, rather than diocesan. The Council of Whitby in 664 decided to adopt Roman usage. In the 8th and 9th centuries, invasions from Scandinavia threw the Church into disorder. In the 12th century, Scotland was brought into closer conformity with the Church on the Continent, by the arrival of religious/monastic orders and the founding of new dioceses. Scottish prelates resisted any attempt to place the Scottish Church under English jurisdiction. In the later Middle Ages, Scotland suffered invasion from England, the Black Death, and civil war.

In the 16th century, Reformed ideas took hold and spread. In 1560 Parliament denied papal jurisdiction and in 1567 committed the country to Presbyterianism. The Catholic Church was proscribed, and the hierarchy disbanded. To save the Catholic Faith, priests launched the Scottish Mission in 1653, working under ground. Many Catholics left the country, but later immigrants from Ireland helped to replace their number. Penalties against Catholics were gradually lifted, and in 1878 Pope Leo XIII restored the hierarchy with two archbishoprics. Catholics are 14% of the population.

Serbia and Montenegro - Federation in SE Europe: capital, Belgrade. Of the six republics making up the federation of Yugoslavia formed after WWII, four declared independence in 1991-2, leaving Serbia and Montenegro, which formed a federation in 2003. Christianity was introduced to Illyria, of which Yugoslavia was geographically a part, in apostolic times by St. Paul. The 7th to 9th centuries saw the evangelization of invading Serbs and Croats. The schism of 1054 divided the country between Orthodoxy (the large majority) and Catholicism. The Reformation had little impact. In 1945 Yugoslavia was made a Socialist republic, and a harsh persecution of the Church was initiated. In 1966 the government recognized the Holy See’s jurisdiction over the Church there and guaranteed unhindered contact with Rome. In Serbia and Montenegro, Catholics make up 5% of the population.

Slovakia – Independent state in central Europe, formerly part of Czechoslovakia: capital, Bratislava. Christianity was brought first by Frankish, then by Irish and German missionaries, in the 8th century. The Church was placed under German bishops. In 863, Sts. Cyril and Methodius began a ministry to the people in their own language. A diocese was established at Nitra in 880. The Church suffered from religious and political upheavals stemming from the Reformation, but the majority remained Catholic. After WWI, the country joined Bohemia and Moravia to form Czechoslovakia. Before the end of WWII, Communists were already working against the Church in Slovakia. In 1945 Church schools were nationalized, youth organizations disbanded, and the Catholic press restricted. In 1950, diplomatic relations with Holy See were ended. In the 1970s, mixed signals came from the government. They allowed three bishops to be ordained, yet placed severe restrictions on priests and seminarians. The Communist government fell in 1989, and Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic in 1993. After 60 years of Communism, bishops now require all adult, unconfirmed Catholics to undergo a 2-year catechism course. In 2000, the government and Vatican signed an accord establishing the Church's legal status. Catholics are 74% of the population.

Slovenia – A republic in SE Europe, formerly part of Yugoslavia, independent since 1991: capital, Ljubljana. Diplomatic relations were established with the Holy See in 1992. Since then, there has been some disagreement with the government on the Church’s social role and the return of Church property. Catholics are 82.6% of the population.

Spain – Constitutional monarchy on the Iberian peninsula in SW Europe: capital, Madrid. Christianity came to Spain in the first century. The first evangelists may have been St. Paul and St. James. Some suffered martyrdom in 3rd century persecutions. The Council at Elvira (305) enacted the first legislation on clerical celibacy in the West. In the 5th century, the Visigoths invaded. They brought the Arian heresy, but were converted to Catholicism by 589. They ruled until the invasion of the Muslim Moors in the 8th century. The Church survived Muslim rule, with Christians gradually winning back their land, until the last of the Moors were expelled in 1492. In the same year Columbus discovered America, leading to Spain’s growth into an empire and the spread of Christianity into the New World. At this time the Inquisition was instituted, to remedy doctrinal irregularities that had developed under Moorish rule. Jews were required to be baptized or leave Spain. The Reformation had little impact here. Spain provided many significant figures of the Counter-Reformation. But the 18th century brought the Enlightenment through (Bourbon) rulers who oppressed the Church, and expelled the Jesuits. A constitution enacted in 1812 undermined the Church, reflecting the French liberalism of Napoleon. In 1931, a revolutionary republic nationalized Church property, secularized schools, and passed anti-clerical laws. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936, between leftist Loyalists and rightist Nationalists. The Nationalists won after a terrible loss of life. Under the dictatorship of Franco, a concordat was signed between the new government and the Vatican, in which Catholicism was declared the state religion. After Franco’s death, a new constitution disestablished the Church, while allowing full religious liberty. 94% of the population are Catholic.

Sweden – Constitutional monarchy NW Europe: capital, Stockholm. Christianity was introduced by Ansgar, a Frankish monk, in 830. The Church was well-established by the 12th century, and through the Middle Ages had extensive social and political power. The wealth and strength of the Church made it a target for criticism, and prelates became unpopular for their involvement in a civil war. King Gustavus, who fought a war of independence from Denmark, was anti-Catholic and opened the country to Lutheranism. Sweden broke ties with the Holy See, but retained much of Catholic structure, even while accepting Lutheran doctrine. Lutheranism became the state religion in 1560. Catholics were forbidden to enter the country, until 1781, when Gustavus III granted free exercise of religion. Conversions to Catholicism were still forbidden until 1873. Almost complete religious freedom has existed since 1952. The Catholic hierarchy was reestablished in 1953. Yet the Church is still handicapped by limited resources, a clergy shortage, and the size of the country. Guest workers and refugees have increased the number of Catholics, and in 1998, the Pope named the first Swedish bishop in over 400 years. Reforms to be implemented in 2004 will allow the Church to own property and operate as a legal entity. Catholics 1.6% of the population.

Switzerland – Confederation of cantons in central Europe: capital, Bern. Christianity was introduced in the 4th century and established before the barbarian invasions of the 6th century. The Germanic tribes were soon converted, with the exception of the pagan Alamanni, who were not converted until the 9th century. A number of significant monasteries were founded during this struggle with the barbarians. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Swiss fought hard battles against the Hapsburgs for independence, which they secured in 1499. In the 16th century, Zwingli brought the Reformation to Switzerland. Under Calvin’s influence, Geneva became the international capital of the Reformation. In 1570 Catholics began a Counter-Reformation, and Catholic and Protestant cantons fought for over two hundred years. In 1848, a new constitution was enacted, with anti-Catholic measures including the dissolution of 130 monasteries. The Church reorganized to meet the threats of liberalism and radicalism. Laws banning Jesuits and prohibiting monasteries were repealed in 1973. Today there are six dioceses, all directly subordinate to the Holy See. The Catholic cantons supply the Swiss Guard to the Vatican. Catholics are 44% of the population.

Ukraine – Independent republic (formerly in the USSR) on the Black Sea: capital, Kiev. The Ukraine was included in the Rus territory, where Christianity was established in 988, with the Baptism of Vladimir. In 1596 the Union of Brest brought the Ukrainian Byzantine-rite community back into communion with Rome. In the late 1940s, the Catholic Church was officially suppressed by the Soviets, its bishops killed, and Church property handed over to the Orthodox. Catholic priests continued to operate underground. Since the Church regained legal status, there have been tensions with the Orthodox over ownership of property and the care of souls. Latin-rite dioceses were re-established in 1991. Catholics are 10% of the population.

Vatican City – Territorial seat of the papacy, situated in the city of Rome. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world. The government is in the hands of the reigning pope, who has full executive, legislative, and judicial power. The normal population is approx. 1000. As late as the 19th century, the pope ruled the Papal States, with an area of 16,000 sq. mi. across the middle of Italy, with a population of 3 million. In 1870, the Kingdom of Italy seized the papal lands with the exception of small areas around the Vatican and Lateran in Rome, and Castel Gandolfo.

Wales – Part of the United Kingdom, on the western side of Great Britain: capital, Cardiff. When Christianity was introduced is unknown, perhaps by the 2nd or 3rd century. Evangelization was complete by the 6th century, called the "Age of Saints." Monasteries flourished and provided the basis for Celtic organization, as centers with satellite churches. The Welsh resisted attempts to bring Wales under English jurisdiction, and held onto Celtic customs. In the 12th century, Norman England invaded Wales and brought Welsh bishoprics under Canterbury . In the 14th century the Welsh rebelled against Henry IV, with bishops and clergy participating because of unequal treatment with English clerics. The Reformation would have had little impact except for the popularity of the Tudors (of Welsh lineage), which enabled Henry VIII to implement his policies. Under Elizabeth I, Wales moved more toward Protestantism and many Catholic "recusants" were executed. Catholicism was revived during the 19th century with the immigration of Irish workers. Toleration was granted in 1829, and the hierarchy restored 1850. Catholics make up 4.5% of the population.

Yugoslavia – See Serbia and Montenegro (above).