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Western Christianity


Hussites

Doctrines The Hussites followed and developed the teachings of John Huss, a theologian at the University of Prague who came under the influence of John Wycliffe's writings. Huss taught that the true church consists of those predestined to salvation; that Christ, not the Pope, is the head of the church; and that the Bible alone provides the laws on which church life should be governed. Huss' followers broke with the Roman Catholic Church by using a Czech liturgy and by distributing both the eucharistic bread and wine to the laity. (It was the practice of the Roman Catholic Church to administer bread alone to the laity.)

History Because of his open support for Wycliffe, Huss was summoned to appear at the Council of Constance in 1414. Although promised safe conduct, Huss was condemned as a heretic and on 6 July 1415 was put to death by fire. After his death Huss' supporters divided into two groups; the moderate Utraquists, who forbade those practices which they considered to be prohibited by the Bible, and the more extreme Taborites, who rejected all practices that were not expressly supported by the bible. From 1420 the Roman Catholic Church launched a series of unsuccessful crusades against the Hussites. Peace negotiations began in 1431 which granted communion in both kinds to the laity. This was accepted by the Utraquists but not by the Taborites. The Utraquists and Catholics united and defeated the Taborites at the battle of Lipany in 1434, thus ending any further Taborite influence. A peace treaty signed in 1436 ensured the Utraquists their own independent Catholic church. The Church of the Utraquist Hussites survived until 1620 when it was absorbed into the Roman Catholic Church.
Following the first world war a further reform movement emerged within the Catholic Church in the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia. In 1920 the Czechoslovak Hussite Church was formed by a group of priests whose demand for a Czech liturgy and the abolition of celibacy among priests had been rejected among Rome.

Symbols The cross to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ; bread and wine to commemorate the Last Supper; water to commemorate Christ's baptism and the cleansing of sins.

Adherents Today the Czechoslovak Hussite Church has 170,000 members (Europa Publications Limited 1994, 1:945).

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 Wuchterlova 5, 166 26 Prague 6.