The Church in the Nineteenth Century: The Metropolitanate in Galicia

25 August 2011, 13:04 | Major Religions | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

The part of the Uniate Kyivan Metropolitanate that after the division of the Polish Commonwealth came under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire continued to exist under qualitatively different conditions than the part that fell under the Russian Empire. Almost immediately after the Galician lands joined the Habsburg monarchy, Empress Maria Theresa in 1774 issued a decree that approved the new name for the Uniate Church – the Greek Catholic Church – mainly to differentiate it from the Roman Catholic Church. The Austrian authorities understood that by showing respect to the Ukrainian-Ruthenians, they could stabilize the Polish separatism in the region. This was necessary to ensure equal rights for both Eastern and the Western Catholics (because despite the fact that the Uniates were also Catholics like those of the Latin Rite, Polish Roman Catholics considered their Eastern brothers inferior). In the same year, Maria Theresa founded a seminary in Vienna at the Church of St. Barbara for the Greek Catholics (Barbareum). And Emperor Joseph II identified that the Greek Catholic clergy was the main driver in his educational reforms on the territory inhabited by Ruthenians; in particular, the social and economic status and the educational level of the clergy were raised. The emperor almost simultaneously took control of the right to appoint bishops, but in 1855 between the empire and Rome a concordat was signed, which ensured the independence of religious affairs from the imperial power, in particular relations of the episcopate with the Roman See.

After the death of the last Metropolitan Theodosius Rostotsky, who during the persecution the Uniate Church by the Russian Empire was transferred to St. Petersburg, the Kyivan Metropolitanate in unity with Rome ended up without a metropolitan confirmed by Rome. Thus in 1806 the Austrian emperor sent an appeal to Rome from the Lviv diocese vicar general with a request to restore the rights of the Galician Metropolitanate with the rights of the Kyivan one. The papal bull was published in 1807, and in 1808 Anton Anhelovych became the metropolitan, in whose jurisdiction included also Kholmshchyna. In 1815 Anhelovych’s successor became Mikhail Levytsky, who has made many efforts to improve the educational level of the population of Galicia; in particular, more than a thousand parochial schools were opened. In 1856 Pope Pius IX gave Levytsky the title of cardinal.

The national-cultural renaissance in Galicia is connected with the activities of Ruska Triytsia (Rus Trinity)—comprised Father Markian Shashkevych, Yakiv Holovatsky, and Ivan Vahylevych—which emerged in 1834 among Ukrainian seminarians. Bishop of Przemysl Ivan Snihursky made a huge contribution to the education of the local people.

After the revolution of 1848 national consciousness grew among the Galician Ruthenians. The Greek Catholic clergy took a significant part of this process, for it was the most educated group in the population. Ukrainian-Ruthenians were unwilling to participate in the liberation movements of the Poles or Hungarians, so the Austrian authorities tolerated national organizations such as Supreme Ruthenian Council. At this time, the Russophile party, whose members felt the need to unite with the Russian Empire, became quite influential in the Greek Catholic environment. The Russophile current received generous ideological and financial support from the Russian authorities.

In opposition to the Russophile wing, there were populist organizations representing the Ukrainophile current. National populists, who were formed on the basis of Ruska Triytsia and the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood that existed in Kyiv, aimed to develop and promote Ukrainian culture, founded libraries, reading rooms, theaters, and the organization Prosvita. Under their leadership existed also the Ruska Besida. The populists, unlike the Russophiles, viewed Ukrainians as a separate people and believed in the necessity to unite with their brothers in Great Ukraine. With support from Ukrainians from the Dnipro region, the populists founded the literary and scientific T. Shevchenko Society. In 1992 it was renamed the T. Shevchenko Scientific Society.

The Greek Catholic clergy took an active part in all these processes. Representatives of the UGCC were in the Russophile current as well as the populist one. In the church context, the Russophile current tried to bring the UGCC rite as close as it could to the synod modals and cleanse the rite of Latin elements.

After the pro-Russian tendency accused the Greek Catholic clergy of connivance, in 1882 Metropolitan Josyf Sembratovych was forced to resign. This happened after the prominent Russophile Father Ivan Naumovich led the conversion of the parish of the village Hnylychka to the Orthodox church. 

After Josyf Sembratovych, the Greek Catholic metropolitanate was headed by Josyf’s brother, Sylvester Sembratovych. During his reign, the Stanyslaviv diocese was established in 1885, and also the Jesuits led the Dobromyl Reform of the Basilians, because since the second half of the nineteenth century the order was in a deplorable condition. The community met the reform with negative reviews, but it gave an opportunity to revive the activities of the monasteries, including their publishing and educational activities.  

In 1891 in Lviv a council of the Greek Catholic Church took place. At the council met two tendencies: the conservative tendency, which reinforced the inviolability of their own Eastern traditions of the сhurch, and those who called for a greater proximity to the Latin church. Although the council preserved married priesthood, the Stanislaviv and Przemysl seminaries began to gather boys who later were to become celibate priests, like the Latin clergy. Because of his innovations, Metropolitan Sylvester Sembratovych, upon his return from Rome, Ukrainian students pelted him with rotten eggs at the Vienna train station. They were upset that the church began to retreat from its Eastern traditions.  

After Sylvester Sembratovych, the metropolitanate was briefly headed by Julian Sas-Kuilovsky. And on January 17, 1901, Andrey Sheptytsky, who had been the bishop of Stanislaviv, descended the throne of the Galician Metropolitanate.

Andrey Sheptytsky

Metropolitan Sheptytsky went down in the history of the UGCC as one of the most prominent hierarchs. His activities spanned from large-scale financial and economic activities for the development of the “Ukrainian” economy in the land and to improve the social and economic situation of local people to funding the education of talented children and care for orphaned children, raising the educational level of the population and creating a health care system. The metropolitan also continued the fight against social diseases of the Galician peasants, started by earlier metropolitans, by supporting, for example, temperance societies, which were founded by Josyf Sembratovych. The metropolitan revived Studite monasticism based on classic Eastern Christian models. And his brother Casimir, who took the name Klymentiy, became the archimandrite of the Studite monks.

The metropolitan also wanted to revive the Greek Catholic Church on the territory of the whole Kyivan Metropolitanate. For this he received papal permission to have jurisdiction outside Galicia. In addition, due to the efforts of Metropolitan Andrey, the Greek Catholics in the United States received his bishop. In 1907 in America, Bishop Soter Ortynsky was appointed. He became vicar of the Latin bishop and ministered the Greek Catholics (he received full jurisdictional authority in 1913 and in 1924 an exarchate was formed). At this time, there was also a conflict between Greek Catholics and the Latin hierarchy over the requirement that in the United States only unmarried priests were allowed to serve. Many Greek Catholics received this negatively and transferred to the Orthodox Church. In 1912, Bishop Nikita Budka was appointed in Canada. In Canada, as in the United States, a number of Greek Catholics became Orthodox.

At that time, Metropolitan Andrey also established the National Ukrainian Museum in Lviv and actively supported Ukrainian artists.

At the beginning of World War I, Austrian authorities for fear of excessive sympathy for Russia among the Galician Russophiles launched reprisals against them. Among the repressed were many UGCC priests as well as Ukrainians who were not Russophiles, since Austria feared treachery in favor of the Russians. Together with the Russian army, to Galicia came representatives of the Orthodox clergy. This process was headed by Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, who received the title of Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Galicia, and Bishops Evlohiy Heorhyyevsky and Dionysius Valedynskyi. While Russian troops were stationed in Galicia, a major campaign for the subordination of Greek Catholic parishes to the Orthodox church took place. In some places were willing to transfer (overall, in Galicia after the Russian occupation there were 200 parishes), but repressive methods were used against the Greek Catholics. Metropolitan Sheptytsky was arrested and sent to Russia to the Evfimievsky Savior Monastery, where he remained until 1917. The metropolitanate at this time was led by Stanislaviv Bishop Hryhorii Khomyshyn. At the same time, the Orthodox’s missionary work was not very effective against the educated Greek Catholic clergy and produced few results.

After his release in 1917, Metropolitan Sheptytsky held in May in St. Petersburg a council of the Russian Greek Catholics and appointed Father Leonid Fedorov Exarch for Catholics of Byzantine Rite in Russia.

Early in exile in Russia, Metropolitan Sheptytsky ordained as bishop of Lutsk his spiritual director Josyf Botsyan, who, however, was unable to perform his duties – he was arrested and exiled to Siberia, where he was remained until the fall of the tsarist regime.

During the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Metropolitan Sheptytsky advocated for free self-determination for all nations of the former empire. After the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918-1919, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church found itself in difficult conditions under the Polish state and up against intense pressure from the Latin hierarchy. There was also pressure from political and religious circles of Poland on the Vatican. After the war, Metropolitan Sheptytsky was under house arrest in the metropolitan chambers of St. George Cathedral, above all, because he defended the rights of Ukrainians for independence (Metropolitan Andrey became a member of the Ukrainian National Council) [2] .

In the interwar period UGCC’s territory was limited to Galicia. Only in 1930 did the leadership of the Polish state allow Bishop Mykola Charnetsky to serve the Greek Catholics in Volhynia (earlier the Roman Catholic hierarchy attempted to introduce a "new union," were Latin biritualist priests would serve, who were subjected to Polish Roman Catholic Bishops). In 1923 in the UGCC Lviv Seminary, the Theological Academic Society begins its activity. It publishes the journal Theology and the magazine for the clergy Nyva, and Work of Theologians. In 1929 the Lviv Theological Academy was founded.

In a difficult political situation at that time, Metropolitan Andrey, defending the rights of Ukrainians, for which he was criticized by the Poles; at the same time, he criticized the terrorist acts of extreme Ukrainian nationalists, which were not accepted by the radical circle of Ukrainians. The Polish government launched a massive attack on the Orthodox and Greek Catholic population in its eastern regions (Kholm, Volhynia, Pidliashia): churches were taken away from the Orthodox, based on the fact that they previously were taken from the Catholics by Russian Czars Nicholas I and Alexander II. Furthermore, the clergy were forced to use the Polish language, not only in sermons but also in everyday life [3] .

In this regard, Metropolitan Andrey said that the UGCC does not claim the property of the Uniate metropolitanate, which was passed to the Orthodox after the annulment of the union on these territories. He expressed his supported for persecuted Orthodox brothers in the regions of Volhynia, Kholm, Pidliashia, and Polissia and urged them to maintain their faith and rite, for which he was thanked by the Orthodox Metropolitan Dionysius (Valedynsky) [4] .

During World War II, Ukrainian territories within Poland were occupied by Soviet troops already at the beginning of a joint military campaign between the Soviet Union and Germany. On September 22, 1939, the Soviet Army entered Lviv. In Galicia and Volhynia there were elections, during which the population was forced to choose loyalty to the Soviet leadership, which declared the accession of Galicia and Volhynia to the USSR. The new government carried out a partial Ukrainianization policy, as opposed to Polish policies, in order to win over the local Ukrainian population. However, the activities of pro-Ukrainian organizations Prosvita and the Shevchenko Scientific Society were banned. They also closed monasteries, church publishing houses, seminaries and the Theological Academy, confiscated church lands, and eliminated the religious element from schools. Church schools were passed to the state [5] .Throughout Galicia there were arrests and executions, including of the clergy.

Under such conditions Metropolitan Sheptytsky appealed to Pope Pius XII to appoint Father Josyp Slipyj, who became the coadjutor of the Lviv archdiocese, as his successor. Meanwhile, the metropolitan sought to organize his work throughout the USSR. On October 9, a council was held where it was decided to create four exarchates: in Great Ukraine, in Russia and Siberia, in Volhynia, and in Belarus.

After the arrival of Soviet troops, the first attempts to transfer the Greek Catholic parishes in Galicia to the Orthodox church are made. In spring of 1940, Moscow Patriarch Sergius (Stragorodsky) appointed Mykola Yarushevych exarch of Western Ukraine. In Galicia, however, the transfers did not take place.

In early 1941, there was even more repression and deportation. If at the beginning of World War II the victims were intellectuals, traders, priests, industrialists, and lawyers, by the end of the first occupation of the victims could be anyone. The main accusation was Ukrainian nationalism.

Under German occupation, which began June 22, 1941, the church was permitted to revive to a certain extent. The Theological Academy and the scholarly work of the Theological Society were renewed. Sheptytsky welcomed the arrival of the German Army, which liberated Galicia from the Soviet occupation. His welcome was mostly caused by the repression and terror that the Soviet authorities carried out in Western Ukraine. Soon afterward, however, the metropolitan began to criticize the Nazis. First, regarding their treatment of Jews (during the war, the UGCC engaged in saving Jews; for example, Sheptytsky hid the children of two Lviv rabbis in his chambers). In a letter to Pope Pius XII the metropolitan gives a critical description of the German regime: “This system of lies, deception, injustice, violence, perversion of the ideas of civilization and order; this system of selfishness, exaggerated to absurd extremes of total crazy national chauvinism, hatred of all that is beautiful and good, this system represents something phenomenal that the first reaction to this monster is utter amazement. Where will this system lead the unfortunate German people? It may be the degeneration of humanity yet to be had history " [6] .

On November 21, 1942, the metropolitan writes the message “Thou Shalt Not Kill!” which defends the dignity of human life and condemns Ukrainian fratricidal war because of differences in political views.

During the war, Metropolitan Andrey tried to find understanding with the Orthodox. For this he corresponded with the bishops of the Orthodox Churches Hilarion (Ohienko) and Pladiy (Vydybida-Rudenko) of the Polish Orthodox Church and issued letters to the Orthodox hierarchs in Ukraine and Orthodox intellectuals.

On May 27, 1944, Soviet troops reentered Lviv. Metropolitan Sheptytsky tried to establish contacts with the Soviet authorities. A delegation headed by the brother of the metropolitan Archimandrite Clement went to Moscow, which gave from the UGCC a significant amount of money to help wounded soldiers of the Soviet Army. Sheptytsky called on national armed forces to stop fighting against the Soviets.

On November 1 of the same year, the metropolitan passes away. The Greek Catholic Church is then led the Bishop Josyf Slipyj.

The Liquidation of the UGCC in 1946

During the second occupation of Galicia by Soviet troops, the new authority was well prepared and had a clear action plan for the land and for the UGCC in particular. On March 15, 1945, the chairman of the Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs, Colonel Karpov, sent Stalin the Instruction to Liquidate the UGCC. Under the plan, it was necessary to create an Orthodox diocese in Lviv and organize in the UGCC an initiative group to join Orthodoxy. At the same time, in the local press an attack was launched against the UGCC: on April 8 in the newspaper Vilna Ukrajina (Free Ukraine) an article by Galician Russophile Yaroslav Galan “With a Cross or a Knife?” is published, which accuses the UGCC in collaborating with the Nazis. Already on April 12, NKVD workers arrested all Greek Catholic bishops: Josyf Slipyj, Mykola Charnetsky, Mykyta Budka, Hryhorii Khomyshyn, and Ivan Liatyshevsky, and all the Greek Catholic seminarians were forced to join the army. Bishops were forced to break ties with Rome, and Josyf Slipyj was offered the Kyivan Orthodox cathedra. On April 27, Orthodox Bishop Macarius Oksiyuk went to Lviv (the Orthodox diocese in Galicia was largely organized by joining to the Ternopil region the Shumsky and Kremenets districts of Volhynia, where there were Orthodox parishes).

Also in early 1945, archpriest of the ROC Kaznovetsky came to Lviv to prepare for the UGCC’s accession to the ROC [7] .

At the same time an initiative group was formed, headed by the priests Havryil Kostelnyk, Mykhailo Melnyk, and Antonii Pelvetsky. The activity of the group was directed at persuading the Greek Catholic clergy to join the Orthodox Church. Father Kostelnyk argued before the priests that it would save the church in Galicia from prohibition and from Russification. At the same time, he demanded of the government relative autonomy for Galician parishes and for seminaries to exist. Long before, Father Kostelnyk was known as a critic of certain aspects of the Roman See’s activity regarding the Eastern churches, including Catholic ones, as well as a defender of the Eastern Byzantine heritage in the Greek Catholic Church.

Support for the Initiative Group and the pressure on the Greek Catholic clergy, which was unwilling to join the ROC (during 1945-1946 in Galicia more than 800 UGCC priests were arrested), finally gave some results: some of the clergy under pressure from the authorities agreed to join. In December 1945, Pope Pius XII appealed to Galicia with a call to be steadfast in faith and not give up.

In early March 1946, in Kyiv Cave Lavra in the presence of representatives of the Soviet government, two Greek Catholic priests Antonii Pelvetsky and Mykhailo Melnyk were secretly ordained bishops of the Orthodox Church. And from March 8 to 10, a meeting was held in Lviv, which the Russian Orthodox Church and Soviet historiography call the “Lviv Council.”

At the meeting there were 232 delegates, 216 priests, and 16 laymen. Prior to the meeting at the George Hotel, Father Kostelnyk issued mandates to the participants, and the NKVD Colonel Bogdanov issued stamps for lunch. The assembly unanimously voted for the abolition of the Union of Brest and the unification of the UGCC with the Russian Orthodox Church. Only after the vote did Kostelnyk present to the delegates Bishops Pelvetsky and Melnyk. On April 5, a delegation with Kostelnyk and new bishops arrived in Moscow for a meeting with Patriarch Alexy I and chairman of the Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs NKVD Colonel Karpov.

After the events of March 8-10, the UGCC found itself outside the law. The clergy who refused to go to the ROC (ultimately, about 30% of priests agreed to transfer) were either repressed, left their service, fled to the West, or began an underground existence. In connection with these events, in Galicia were there public protests, which were suppressed.

The Przemysl diocese, though it remained outside the USSR, also suffered terror. On September 21, 1945, Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovsky was arrested, but later released. However, he was again arrested on June 26, 1946, and sent to the Kyiv region, where he died in a concentration camp in the village Chapayivtsi on November 17, 1947. Auxiliary Bishop Hryhorii Lakota was also imprisoned, and after Operation Wisla the diocese was abolished [8] .

The main actors at the Lviv assembly were subsequently eliminated. Bishops Melnyk and Pelvetsky died under mysterious circumstances. On September 20, 1948, after a Liturgy in the Transfiguration Church in Lviv senior priest Kostelnyk was shot. Soviet authorities tried to place the responsibility for the murder on the Ukrainian nationalist underground, but evidence submitted by Kostelnyk’s family indicates that he was a victim of the Soviet secret service (according to Kostelnyk’s wife, moments after the shots, Soviet secret service men were in Kostelnyk’s apartment to search it and confiscate the priest’s documents).

Researcher of Father Havryil Kostelnyk’s life and work Oleh Hirnyk writes: “If by 1945 H. Kostelnyk showed some ‘political sympathy for Orthodoxy,’ then in the process of organizing the ‘Lviv Pseudo-Council’ his rhetoric changes toward the opposite: before the war H. Kostelnyk criticized manifestations of Latinization in the Greek Catholic Church; after falling under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, he begins to call on the Orthodox to learn the administrative structure of the Roman Church, introduce readings of the Liturgy, shave off beards and long hair, do away with ritual ‘lobzaniya’ and cassocks with broad sleeves, and generally minimize all the trappings of priestly clothes, giving as an example the clothing of Catholic priests in Europe and America [9].” The change of opinion of the Initiative Group’s leader was largely due to the Soviet civilian and Orthodox partners’ failure to meet the conditions set forth by Kostelnyk. Kostelnyk’s murder occurred shortly after he returned from Moscow and complained that the Moscow Patriarchate had not given the Galician metropolitanate autonomous status.

The UGCC in the Underground

Even after the liquidation of the UGCC, in 1946 in Galicia there still functioned separate Greek Catholic centers: the monastery in Hoshiv functioned until 1950, the women’s Basilian monastery in Sukhovolia functioned until 1952 [10]. In 1950 more than a hundred monks and nuns were arrested and deported. Those who remained created small communities and become nurses, cleaners, seamstresses, and so on. Two Basilian sisters served until 1957 in the chambers at St. George Cathedral under Orthodox bishops, but went to a Roman Catholic church for Liturgy [11] .

On the whole, after 1946 the communist regime confiscated and handed over some 3,000 parishes and 195 monasteries to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Although the new church authorities first tried to destroy all signs of Greek Catholicism in the local rite (to unify it with the Moscow rite), the population opposed it, so ROC bishops abandoned taking drastic measures and began to gradually wipe away the traces of the UGCC. Many liturgical traditions remained in use nevertheless. Many priests who formally joined the ROC continued to serve according to old models and continued to commemorate the pope in the Liturgy.

After the arrest of the episcopate of the Greek Catholic Church, the leader of the clergy became Archimandrite Klymentiy Sheptytsky, but on June 5, 1947, at the Univ Lavra he was arrested and after several years of abuse died in 1951 in a Vladimir prison.

Life in the Greek Catholic underground continued through the resilience of the faithful and the priests and nuns who refused to join the ROC. Meanwhile, there were priests of “dual jurisdiction” who were formally in the ROC, but in fact remained Greek Catholics. After the death of Stalin, Josyf Slipyj was sent to Moscow from the Mordovian concentration camps. He was again asked to renounce the metropolitan throne of the UGCC; after refusing to do so, he was exiled to Krasnoyarsk.

In 1956, after amnesty was granted, Bishops Mykolai Charnetsky, Ivan Liatyshevsky and Oleksandr Khira (Mukachevo Greek Catholic diocese) returned from the concentration camps, as well as many Greek Catholic priests who openly held a moleben near the walls of St. George in Lviv [12] .The bishops secretly ordained new priests and took back those who had joined the ROC. Such actions caused concern in both the ROC and among the authorities; therefore, conversations were held with previously convicted priests, who were forced to renounce the UGCC, and later some of them returned to the camps. In 1957, Bishop Oleksandr Khira was again arrested and exiled to Kazakhstan (d. 1983). On April 2, 1959, Bishop Mykolai Charnetsky died. Bishop Ivan Liatyshevsky (d. 1957) secretly ordained Father Ivan Slezyuk coadjutor bishop of the Stanislaviv diocese. Father Slezyuk had received episcopal authority from Bishop Hryhorii Khomyshyn when the latter was arrested back in 1945. In 1958, Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj was again sentenced to seven years imprisonment [13] .

Under Nikita Khrushchev, another wave of persecution of religious organizations took place in the USSR. In Galicia, many churches were closed, and some of the priests who were left without a parish joined the catacomb UGCC.

In 1962 through the efforts of the Vatican and U.S. president and the decision of the USSR leadership, Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj was exiled to the West. The metropolitan did not want to leave the country, but the pope insisted on his presence at the Second Vatican Council. Before his departure from Moscow, on February 4, 1963, he ordained the Redemptorist monk Bishop Velychkovsky.

In 1964, Bishop Ivan Slezyuk was arrested again. Then the police uncovered the underground monastery and arrested several clandestine seminarians. And in Kazakhstan Bishop Oleksandr Khira ordained Bishop Josaphat Fedoryk, who in the late 60s arrived in Ukraine [14] .

At the time of Leonid Brezhnev, the UGCC underground experienced a revival. The period 1965-1968 was considered the time when the underground church was stabilized. At this time, the life of the dioceses normalizes, in Galicia and Transcarpathia there are a few hundred underground priests and a few hundred monks and nuns (240 Basilian sisters and 240 Sisters Servants, over 100 Basilian monks, 54 Redemptorists and 62 Studites). Bishop Velychkovsky accepted 50 priests who had previously join the ROC. Despite the ban, in some villages the Greek Catholics open churches that had been closed. In April 1967, there were 88 such churches [15]. Underground seminaries function, some study in the Latin seminary in Kaunas and Riga, some partially train in ROC seminaries and later leave the Moscow Patriarchate. (Thus in 1980 Mykhailo Havryliv returns to the underground after having studied at the Leningrad Seminary. He was considered a disciple of the famous Metropolitan Nicodemus (Rotov). After he commemorated the pope at Liturgy, he left the ROC and worked as a loader.)

In the 60s, after the meeting of the chairman of Supreme Soviet of the USSR Nikolay Podgorny with Pope Paul VI, and after the legalization of the Greek Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Greek Catholics had hopes that their activities would be legalized. Some priests who were expecting legalization began serving Mass in the open. In 1968, Josyf Slipyj appealed to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet with a request to legalize the UGCC [16] . After the Prague Spring, however, the UGCC was not legalized, but instead experienced increased repression. In early November 1969, Bishop Velychkovsky and several priests were sentenced to three years imprisonment. Earlier, in 1968, in Lviv an underground seminary was opened. In some places there were clashes between the police and the local population in villages where the churches were closed and turned into civilian buildings or museums of atheism. In one example, in the village Pynyany near Sambir to quell discontent among the population, internal troops were called in and the priest who served in the closed church was arrested.

The ROC was concerned over the activity of the Greek Catholic underground. To effectively counter the Uniates, the Ukrainian Exarchate of the ROC received permission to print prayers in Ukrainian, and the activity of the publishing magazine Orthodox Bulletin was restored [17] .

In the early 70s, there were more attempts to legalize. The Soviets used it as an opportunity to try to split the underground church by offering to register Catholic parishes of the Eastern Rite under the subordination of Latin bishops. This, however, was not supported by most Greek Catholics.

In January 1972, Bishop Velychkovsky was released from prison and allowed to go abroad. After Rome he went to Canada, where he died on June 30, 1973. The leadership of the underground church was passed to Bishop Volodymyr Sterniuk. In the same year in Ivano-Frankivsk, Bishop Sofron Dmyterko, successor of Ivan Slezyuk, and a few priests were arrested. Also, priests Mykhailo Lutsky and Ivan Luchkiv were brutally murdered.

After the Helsinki Conference, the fate of the persecuted Greek Catholics increasingly became the subject of discussion at various conferences in the Western world.

In the spring of 1978, the state security organs of the Soviet Union again thought of creating a Ukrainian branch of the Roman Catholic Church with the Eastern Rite. A few UGCC priests supported this idea. Creating such a structure, the government again tried to split the underground, playing on a different vision of the church among the clergy and laity. The project, however, did not unfold well. Instead, in the underground, the pre-war debate on the identity of the church continued: Some – Basilians and clergy in Ivano-Frankivsk – insisted that the Greek Catholics be closer to the Latin tradition and draw a clearer border between Orthodoxy. They also treated severely the priests who joined the ROC and imposed punishment on them if they returned, and forbade their faithful from attending ROC churches. The clergy of the Lviv diocese, Studite monks, and Redemptorists, on the other hand, did not forbid Greek Catholics from attending the churches of the ROC, with understanding treated priests who for various, not ideological, reasons joined the Orthodox church, and defended the Eastern identity of the Greek Catholic Church.

Even before the Second Vatican Council, the relations between the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate were revived. The Russian Church regarded this as Rome’s rejection of the UGCC; however, the Vatican did not provide a direct answer to this question. Many of the Roman officials’ actions, however, did provoke considerable resentment among the persecuted Greek Catholics in Ukraine and in the Greek Catholic diaspora in the West.

In October 1978, the new Bishop of Rome was Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. After his arrival the relations between the Vatican and the USSR deteriorated significantly. Already in 1979 the new pope sent a letter to Patriarch Josyf Slipyj on the occasion of the millennium the baptism of Rus’. He urged Ukrainians to prepare for this holiday with the See of Rome and confirmed the legitimacy of the Union of Brest in 1596. He also showed respect to all Greek Catholics who suffered for Christ's Church. The pope reminded the Soviet government about human rights and the right to manifest one’s religion.

The pope’s letter troubled not only Moscow but also the Secretariat for Christian Unity, headed by Cardinal Willebrands. The Moscow Patriarchate made criticisms and ultimatums after an extraordinary synod of Ukrainian bishops was held in Rome in the spring of 1980 [18] . Dissatisfaction with the Moscow Patriarchate reached a climax after the next UGCC synod in Rome, where the “Lviv Council” was declared noncanonical. The resolution was adopted in the presence of Cardinal Rubin. The Moscow Patriarchate sent to Rome Metropolitan Yuvenaliy Poyarkov, but the pope did not impose a ban on the resolution, even though it was published unofficially. Patriarch Pimen also gave an ultimatum to Rome, insisting on the requirement to condemn the actions of Ukrainian bishops. The ROC constantly threatened to discontinue the dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church because of the “Ukrainian question.”

Rome’s answer was very diplomatic: The pope expressed regret over the publication of the resolutions of the Synod of the UGCC without his consent, which caused resentment among Greek Catholics, but this response did not satisfy Moscow Patriarchate either. At the political level the Soviet Union was worried by the Vatican’s “Eastern policy,” which in the opinion of the Soviet leadership supported the Ukrainian nationalists. Because of worsening relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican, the ROC received the consent of the state’s leadership to celebrate the millennium of the baptism of Rus’ in Moscow.

The UGCC in the Diaspora

After the liquidation of the UGCC in the Soviet Union, in Europe remained only Bishop Ivan Buchko, who the pope appointed Apostolic Visitor of the Ukrainian Catholics in Western Europe. After World War II, however, many Ukrainian Greek Catholics who emigrated or remained in Western countries in connection with the Communist terror in their homeland ended up in North America and Western Europe. Therefore, in Canada in 1956, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Exarchate (created in 1948) received the rank of metropolitanate. The first metropolitan was Maksym Hermaniuk. In 1958 in the United States, the Philadelphia metropolitanate was established, which consisted of the Stamford and Chicago dioceses and the Philadelphia archdiocese. Konstiantyn Bohachevsky became metropolitan. In Europe in 1957, an exarchate was established in Britain, in 1958 in Germany, and in 1960 in France, which included faithful who lived in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. In Poland, though the Przemysl diocese was liquidated, the Greek Catholic priests who remained free served their faithful in subordination to the Roman Catholic bishop.

Head of the UGCC Josyf Slipyj after 18 years in prison came to Italy before the Second Vatican Council. On February 9, 1963, he arrived in the town Orte, and two days later met with Pope John XXIII. When Metropolitan Josyf entered the session of Second Vatican Council, the members – Catholic bishops from around the world – stood up and greeted the confessor of faith with applause [19]. On October 11, the first day of the second session of the council, Josyf Slipyj delivered a speech in which he called to raise the UGCC to patriarchal dignity. Members of the council met the speech with applause. On December 23, 1963, Metropolitan Josyf received the title Major Archbishop of the UGCC. [20]

Persistent attempts to attain the patriarchal system began in 1969, when talk began formally in documents about the need for this status, and after the Synod of Bishops and Josyf Slipyj wrote several appeals to Pope Paul VI to give the UGCC the status of a patriarchate. [ 21]

Josyf Slipyj’s main goal in the diaspora was to unite all Ukrainian Greek Catholic institutions under the leadership of the synod and the head of the church. To support Slipyj, a lay patriarchal movement arose that aimed to assist in strengthening the patriarchal order in the UGCC. Priests also joined the patriarchal movement, and in 1967 the movement began to publish the magazine Patriarchate. Individual bishops did much to help the patriarchal structure of the UGCC, but not all supported Josyf Slipyj in his work for they had a different vision of the UGCC in the diaspora.

Josyf Slipyj activities and his visits to Ukrainian communities around the world caused dissatisfaction in the Roman Curia as it prevented a dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. Rome also feared that the uncontrollability of movements in the UGCC could divide the church. Because of this, Rome prevented the UGCC head from holding UGCC synods and subsequently from visiting the faithful outside of Italy. This caused a serious wave of discontent among the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, especially among the world's patriarchal movement.

In 1975, Father Ivan Hrynokh at Liturgy for the first time called Major Archbishop Josyf Slipyj patriarch of the UGCC. And beginning this year, Josyf Slipyj began signing documents as patriarch. He believed in the necessity to live patriarchal dignity so that it would be recognized by Rome and other churches, applying not canonical but historical arguments: first the church must mature as a structure to the patriarchal dignity, to begin considering itself a patriarchal church, and then others will recognize that it is a patriarchate. [22]

Pope Paul VI argued against granting patriarchal status because the patriarchate was located outside the territory of Ukraine.

In addition to forming centralized UGCC structures in the world, Patriarch Josyf put an emphasis on education. In 1963, he founded the Pope Clement Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome, which became the successor of the Lviv Theological Academy; subsequently, branches of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) opened on all continents. UCU published over 200 scholarly works, 14 volumes of Monumenta Ucraine Historica, 22 volumes of the journal Theology, 15 volumes of works by Josyf Slipyj, and 53 volumes of works on the history of Ukraine, church, culture, art, and literature. The philosophical faculty published the journal Dzvony (Bells). Also, Patriarch Josyf in 1969 built in Rome the St. Sophia Cathedral, which became the center of Greek Catholics in the diaspora.

Realizing the Soviet Union’s threat to the UGCC, Patriarch Josyf in 1977 in the Castel Gandolfo Studite monastery ordained bishops Lubomyr Husar, Ivan Khoma, and Stepan Khmil. If ever in the underground the succession of episcopal ordination was interrupted, they were to go to the USSR and ordain new bishops. Pope Paul VI did not recognize the ordinations, which were made ​​secretly and without papal consent.

On September 7, 1984, Patriarch Slipyj died in Rome. Pope John Paul II, saying goodbye to his body in St. Sophia Cathedral, said: “He was a great man. He fought for a just cause." [23]

Josyf Slipyj left behind a will, which called on Greek Catholics to continue to assert the patriarchate of the UGCC. Pope John Paul II, however, on whom Ukrainians pinned considerable hopes, did not recognize this status for the UGCC.

Josyf Slipyj’s successor became his coadjutor Bishop Ivan Myroslav Lubachivsky.

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