Formation of underground Church discussed at webinar

Saturday, 25 December 2010, 22:13
After the Lviv pseudo-synod the Soviet regime deemed the Greek Catholic Church nonexistent, and every priest who continued to carry out his duties broke the law, Father Taras Bublyk, research worker of UCU’s Institute of Church History said during the webinar “The Liquidation and Formation of the Underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (1946-1972).”
“The experience of the beginning of underground life of the Church significantly affected the identity of church hierarchies...
After the Lviv pseudo-synod the Soviet regime deemed the Greek Catholic Church nonexistent, and every priest who continued to carry out his duties broke the law, Father Taras Bublyk, research worker of UCU’s Institute of Church History said during the webinar “The Liquidation and Formation of the Underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (1946-1972).” “The experience of the beginning of underground life of the Church significantly affected the identity of church hierarchies. The pre-war image of a bishop as a prince of the Church, as acknowledged by the state, changed into an image of a spiritual father, who lives among the faithful, shares in all their difficulties and sufferings,” the speaker of the webinar said. Talking about the most difficult time for the Greek Catholic Church – the late 40s to the early 50s, when the hierarchs, priests, and monastics were eliminated and imprisoned, the structure of the church destroyed, and churches transferred to the ROC or closed – Father Taras Bublyk confirmed that the Church persisted. “In the 50s the pastoral structure was renewed; with the help of underground hierarchy some ‘signed’ priests returned to the Greek Catholic Church, the foundation for spiritual education was laid, and the faithful, those who self-identified with the Greek Catholic Church, ignored the threats and persecution,” said Father Taras. Other topics of the webinar included the OUN-UPA’s attitude toward the “reunification” actions of the Soviet government against the Church, and also the murders of “initiative group” member Father Gavriila Kostelnika and the anti-Uniate publicist Yaroslav Halanum. Father Taras expressed doubt in the Stalin propaganda that reported that the “nationalistic underground” committed these murders in revenge for the liquidation of the Church. According to Father Taras, the destruction of the Church was the continuation of Tsarist Russia’s policy rather than the atheist Soviet government’s fight against religion: “For the Kremlin it was important in both the fight against religious identity and the destruction of the insurgent movement.” To support his opinion, the pastor cited history professor Bohdan Botsiurkiv: “The liquidation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 20s and the elimination of UGCC in the 40s and the most powerful operations on against the insurgent movement by the Soviet security service were led by one and the same specialist – MGB colonel Serhiy Danylenko-Karin.” Monasteries were the stronghold of the Church, said the father, and the last of them in Hoshiv was closed as late as March 1950. The monks were arrested or sent to the Soviet army, and elderly clergymen were sent to nursing homes. The fight against the monks, however, usually did not reach its goal. For example, despite the more than 100 monks of the Univ Monastery who were arrested, only 18 consented to leave the order. All who wish to learn more about the liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church in Zakarpattya and about the murder of the Bishop Theodore (Romzha), about the fight against the Greek Catholics on territory that fell under the rule of the People’s Republic of Poland, about the fates of repressed church hierarchs and the hierarchs’ resurgence in the underground, setting up illegal seminaries and reviving secret monasteries, and also about the attempt of Lavrentiy Beria to hold negotiations with Patriarch Josyf can watch the webinar at this link: www.ugcc.org.ua/webinars/2010-12-21.flv (25 Mb. 56:08 min.).

Information Department of the UGCC

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