From One Exile to Another Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj at Vatican II

From One Exile to Another

Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj at Vatican II

Dr. Karim Schelkens

Introduction

Upon my arrival in Moskwa Hotel, sixth floor, I identified Slipyj, who was coming from the opposite corridor, by his stature, the look of his eyes. I went to meet him and said : ‘Are you Archbishop Slipyj ?’ He answered : ‘Are you coming from Rome ? I said yes. He continued : ‘I waited eighteen years for you’.[1]

 

These words were written down by John Cardinal Willebrands in the early 1990’s, reminiscing one of the most impressive moments in his long career. Today, the moment in early february 1963, where Willebrands travelled to Moscow has its place among the list of memorable moments in twentieth century church history. This moment also marks the starting point of my contribution to the present Symposium, celebrating the 120 anniversary of Cardinal Slipyj’s birth. As a non-ukrainian, I consider myself an “amateur” of contemporary Ukrainian church history. An amateur in the best sense of the word, as one who has gradually discovered the richness, the complexity and … the often painful story of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. It is with some feelings of awe, therefore, that I present this modest contribution, and with a sharp awarenes of its limited scope. Studying the role of Metropolitan Slipyj at Vatican II is not an easy task. First of all, other and better scholars before me – and I am naturally thinking of Jaroslav Pelikan[2] here ‑ have devoted time and pages to this, and I have no intention to challenge or redo their work. So I decided to choose a particular perspective or approach for my talk, departing from the field I am most confident with : Sources on Vatican II history, and more in particular : Diaries of Council participants. In the past decade, a vast number of council diaries have been made available to the public, and most recently, I have had the chance to be involved in two edition projects that proved to be very relevant as a background for my current contribution : first, the edition of the diaries of Card. John Willebrands[3], who played a key role in Slipyj’s departure from the USSR in early 1963 ; and second, the council notes of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Metropolitan Hermaniuk, from the Winnipeg Metropolia[4]. The combination of these two sources, with other diaries and archive documents offers one an interesting account of Slipyj’s role and activities at the Council. From there, I depart, all the while making use of other existing sources and literature. The contribution is necessarily partial therefore, and I am always open for additions and comments that may enrich the scope of this modest study.

 

 

A Balance Yet to Be Found : the First Intersession

 

Returning to the notes jotted down by the late Cardinal Willebrands we find ourselves already in the middle of the conciliar event of Vatican II. Vatican II, for Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, spans a period of a mere two and a half year, between early spring of 1963 until the winter of 1965. For the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Community, however, the event had started already in 1960, and in particular as of October 1962 it was not void of painful moments[5]. Besides the absence of Slipyj himself – clearly mentioned in the Ukrainian Episcopate’s 1962 Pastoral Letter, under the header “Our Joy is Mixed with Sorrow”[6] –, the Ukrainian hierarchy had to cope with the ecumenically motivated presence of Russian Orthodox representatives at the Council – Vitali Borovoi and Vladimir Kotliarov. Their presence alone had marked the first council period strongly, but added to it was the change of direction taken in the Vatican Ostpolitik. These issues deserve a study of themselves, but I will not go into them in the limited framework of this contributions.

Josyf Slipyj, travelling from Moscow, via Vienna, and ultimately to the Grottaferrata Abbey near Rome, arrives there during the first intersession[7]: An “in-between” moment at which many of the fifteen Ukrainian diaspora bishops had returned home to their flock, in the US, Canada, England, Brazil, … Moreover, this early in 1963, even most of the Conciliar Commissions were not very active, its members spread over the globe to pick up what they had left behind before they come to the eternal city. So, even when the moment of “liberation” was filled with deep emotions[8], as is so well described by Fr. Stransky CSP. Even when an already very ill Pope John XXIII personnally rejoiced in the Metropolitan’s release, and had him picked up upon his arrival by his personal driver in the Pope’s car[9], the atmosphere surrounding this major moment had something awkward. Quickly the news of Slipyj’s release spread, and Ukrainian Catholics in the free world were thrilled with enthousiasm. At the same time many were surprised by the overall silence surrounding this joyful event. No front pages in Catholic newspapers, a minor article in L’Osservatore Romano. It took a while before many come to realize that the background of this silence lay in a officious agreement between the Vatican State Secretariat and Moscow’s Department for Foreign Affairs: no media coverage was be given to the event, an agreement arranged by Willebrands and Norman Cousins, and stressed by Khruthchev[10]. The unofficial diplomacy round that – also due to the help of the Russian Orthodox archpriest Vitali Borovoj[11] – led to Slipyj’s release as a personal favour from Kruthchev to the Pope, was an ungoing one. Cousins would return to Moscow as ‘informal’ envoy again in Early April, 1963[12]. To illustrate the feelings on the Ukrainian side of the story, one has but to read the notes in Met. Hermaniuk’s diary on February 20, 1963 :

 

Today I received from Ottawa, in a press communiqué of the CCC, in French, news that our Metropolitan Josyf “is resting” in the monastery of Grottaferrata near Rome, and that no one, apart from three Ukrainians from that monastery, can see him (not even anyone from our clergy in Rome). What is this supposed to mean? It’s difficult to know[13].

 

All of the above indicates the complex situation in which, after eighteen years of imprisonment, the Metropolitan landed into. He was in the free world, but still exiled from his native soil, and a subject of both geo-political stakes[14], and of the tensions between several Roman dicasteries (the Vatican State Secretariat, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, the Secretariat for Christian Unity). Amidst this turmoil, Josyf Slipyj was to seek and regain his own place[15]. Not to mention the effect of his return on the balances within the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Hierarchy. Very rapidly so, determing the place and role of the Metropolitan became a topic of discussion with a variety of aspects being raised :  What role was the Metropolitan to play as a Council Father, now that the conciliar machinery was already well running ? Would it be thinkable to have him as a Ukrainian respresentative in the Secretariat for Christian Unity ?[16] What was to be his authority within the Ukrainian Conference of Bishops ? Would the Council provide with the momentum for the (re-)establishment of an Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchate ? What attitude will the Metropolitan take in the conciliar discussions on Religious Liberty, and over against the Soviet Union ? All of these issues will come to the fore in the conciliar period, with varying intensity.

 

Although, as is convincingly shown by Jaroslav Pelikan, the Metropolitan displayed a remarkable range of activities in the first year after his release, much of the matters summed up above would only really come to the forefront by the fall of 1963. On September 26, Slipyj visited a delegation from the Secretariat for Christian Unity[17], discussing with them the conciliar approach to religious freedom. The topic was crucial for the council and engendered stark opposition, also from anti-communist-inspired sources. Slipyj’s attitude was delicate, … and wise. He would not agitate against the new turn taken in the Vatican’s Ostpolitik under John XXIII[18], and adopted by Paul VI, yet he would always remain suspicious regarding the communist authorities as well as the position of the Moscow Patriarchat under Soviet rule. On the side of the Vatican officials, an openly hostile stance against communism was no longer accepted, and the distinction between the ideology rejected and the person holding it would become central in Vatican policy.

In the course of the next days, Slipyj has other important meetings : in the late afternoon of September 27, 1963, together with Metropolitan Hermaniuk, who had led the Ukrainian Bishops Conference in recent years, the Metropolitan discussed the program of his first meeting with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic episcopate scheduled the next day. Whereas initially, Hermaniuk reports, Slipyj showed himself undecided or even reluctant to reassume leadership and act as the head of the Bishop’s conference, ultimately he conceeded. During that first meeting Slipyj immediately sought to strengthen the organization of the Episcopal Conference by imposing on its members an oath of secrecy, and installing as a rule that any decision voted by a two-third majority would henceforth be considered as binding. The concern was to preserve the unity among Ukrainian hierarchs, but at this juncture the complexity of Slipyj’s position as the “returned leader” was suddenly on the table: Metropolitan Senysyn went on to question both the need for secrecy and the binding character of voted decisions[19]. The next day, Slipyj would enter the conciliar realm…

 

 

Metropolitan Slipyj Becomes A Council Father

 

On September 29, a new episode of Vatican II starts with a solemn procession. During its tumultuous opening period, Vatican II had chosen direction in the ecclesiological field, and had been a council ruled by the episcopate.  As of this day the council fathers gathered under the governance of another Pope. For the Ukrainian faithful, the momentum was grand, with Slipyj participating in the procession, surrounded by and reunited with his colleague bishops. Yet, it was also hurtful that the television broadcast of the opening paid ample attention to the presence of Moscow’s observors, but failed to mention the highly symbolic fact of Slipyj’ presence. On the next day, the Metropolitan silently occupied his seat in St. Peter’s Basilica – n° D0022. The heroic confessor Slipyj was now one among over two thousand council fathers… and once again, on this first day of general congregation, chairman Agagianan failed to notify his presence to the fathers[20]. For the Ukrainians, the matter was clear: any utterance that might disturb Moscow was carefully avoided by the Vatican.

 

It remains difficult to asses the Metropolitan’s precise role at Vatican II. The Council’s second period alone counts a multitude of memorable moments, involving his “active participation”. On need but think of the audience Paul VI granted to some 200 Ukrainians on October 18, 1963[21], where Slipyj held a strong patriotic speech. Nevertheless, at Vatican II, he was not part of any council commission or Secretariat, and therefore did not share in much of the “official” process of drafting and revising council texts. And, having arrived only for the second council period, some of the crucial directions for Vatican II were already taken. The debate on the liturgy, so important for the UGCC was already completed, and as of the second period this already required the local bishops conferences to reflect upon their reception of Sacrosanctum Concilium. I will not go into this in detail, but time and again the Ukrainian Conference of Bishops devotes itself to the revision of the Ukrain Liturgical books and prayers.

Talking about the liturgy, one cannot forget the occasion granted to Slipyj, on October 29, 1963, to concelebrate the “byzantino-ucrainus ritus” – as the Council booklets described it – before the Council, together with Bishops Isidore Borecky and Jaroslav Gabro. And there’s more still: an event worthwile pondering is the placing of the relics of St. Josaphat in St. Peter’s Basilica, with the Pope’s participation. The event was initiated by Slipyj[22]. Met. Hermaniuk noted in his diary on November 25, 1963:

 

17:00 – the solemnity at the altar of St. Basil the Great in St. Peter’s Basilica on the occasion of the deposition, on the 22nd of this month, of the relics of St. Josafat. The Holy Father Paul VI himself participated in this unique solemnity, modo privato. Eighteen of our bishops, presided by Metropolitan Confessor Most Rev. J. Slipyj, celebrated a Moleben to St. Josafat.[23]

 

From the outset: the picture is double: many a festive occasion, but as for as influence on council texts or the council’s program is concerned, the image is much less clear. At this juncture, not much more is found than the Metropolitan’s official council speechs. That said, his major occupation during Vatican II was that of streamlining the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Conference of bishops at the Council. In what follows, we will consider both: his role as the head of the episcopal conference, and his council interventions. At the same time, a clear thread runs through the Metropolitan’s activities: his care to prevent his church from latinizing tendencies within an overall Latin Council, all the while underlining its distinct position over against the (Russian) Orthodox. In all of this, one element plays the central role: Slipyj’s hope to see the Metropolitan see raised to the rank of an Ukrainian Greek Catholic Patriarchate.

 

 

Leading the Ukrainian Conference of Bishops at Vatican II

 

The story of the Ukrainian episcopate at the Council is worth a monograph in itself, so I will merely present some points that are of importance here. First and foremost: the question of the patriarchat divided the bishops from the very first day. Metropolitan Senyshyn’s opinion, along with that of other Basilians, was clearly antipatriarchal, and on other occasions too, he was seen representing a more ‘latinizing’ tendency among the diaspora bishops. For instance, during the bishops’ meeting of October 4 1963, the episcopate discussed and rejected a letter by Senysyn contesting the aformentioned secrecy vows[24]. While such occasions already illustrate the tensions, the question of the patriarchate raised most of the objections.

 

On October 10, 1963, for the first time, Josyf Slipyj was to address the Council fathers. In fact, the Metropolitan, when being called to the speakers stance – and receiving applause even before ever uttering a word – did not have his text with him[25]. Nevertheless, he presented this initial speech on that day to the episcopal conference, which, on that evening, took some interesting decisions: For one, a Joint Pastoral Message was to be prepared, its redaction confided to Met. Hermaniuk; Second, Ukrainian bishops planning to speak on behalf of the Conference of Bishops were required to notify the secretary, Neil Savaryn, beforehand. This would streamline the actions of the episcopate[26].

Metropolitan Slipyj’s speech of October 11, 1963, consisted of four major parts[27]: it opened with an appraisal of the Council’s work, saying grace to God for the occasion of Vatican II, and then went on to sketch the history of the participation of Kyivan Metropolitans at Ecumenical Councils. Third, Slipyj entered the ecclesiological discussions. At that point, he insisted heavily on the papal prerogatives over against the college of bishops, somewhat opposing episcopal collegiality to papal primacy. The intervention, at this point, reveals something of the theological positions of the Metropolitan, linked strongly with his ideas on the identity of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: however a community of its own right within Catholicism, adherence to the pope is at the heart of his church’s identity. The theological tension this causes is resolved somewhat differently by some bishops from the diaspora. In particular Met. Hermaniuk of Winnipeg revealed himself a strong advocate and even one of Vatican II’s pioneers in defining episcopal collegiality, somewhat lessing the centralist ecclesiology that had shaped Catholicism after Vatican I. Hermaniuk made the claim that precisely an emphasis on the role and importance of the bishops is closer to the Eastern tradition of synodality[28], and so ties his ecclesiological position to the identity of the UGCC in quite another way than Slipyj[29]. One is struck to see both the Vatican II minority and majority position with regard to the collegiality doctrine defended within the Ukrainian hierarchy, each with a legitimizing reference to the particular Ukrainian tradition.

Last, but certainly not least, Slipyj made an unequivocal petition to the Council to establish the Kyiv-L’viv Patriarchate[30]. His petition did not go unnoticed: Msgr Willebrands, for instance, indicated to be seeking a mandate from the Vatican to arrange for the Metropolitan to return to L’viv. Willebrands had also noticed the surprise of Russian observers Borovoj and Kotliarov[31], who though it more appropriate instead to speak about the establishment of the L’viv Patriarchate. A patriarchate of Kyiv raised objections, and from the perspective of the Moscow Patriarchate the establishment of a “uniate” patriarchate on its territory was unimaginable. And the obstacles were’nt confined to the Russian Orthodox side side. Msgr Cardinale from the Vatican State Secretariat was also informed of Slipyj’s speech. The State Secretariat made it abundantly clear to the Secretariat for Unity that there should be no more talk of establishing a Greek Catholic Kyiv patriarchate during the council meetings[32]. Clearly, both the Russian observers and the Vatican diplomats were bothered with the political implications of Slipyj’s request. Precisely these tensions gave rise to an increasing contact between the Metropolitan, exiled in Rome, with the Russian observers. It even led to a visit paid by Slipyj, accompanied by Willebrands, to the Russian embassy in Rome on November 7, 1963. Soon, negative reactions would rise from within the Episcopal Conference – reactions that would stretch far beyond the second period of Vatican II.

 

First, though, other events need to mentioned here. We will briefly mention two: First, Slipyj was also engaged in ecumenical endeavours, which are to be understood against his care for the Ukrainian faithful in a large sens. Given that another contribution at the present symposium is already devoted to the theme of Slipyj and ecumenism, I will not go into this at length. Still, one should point to the fact that hroughout the Council’s Second Period, Slipyj not only had regular contacts with the Russian Orthodox, but also made serious efforts to obtain the presence of Ukrainian Orthodox bishop Mystyslav Skrypnyk as an observer at Vatican II. This proved quite difficult, since Skrypnyk was willing to attend on his own initiative, but could not act as an official delegate from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On several occasions one sees Slipyj intervening with Cardinal Bea on behalf of Skrypnyk[33]. A second topic is also quite interesting: Metropolitan Slipyj, in this period of time, starts raising the idea of establishing an Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome[34]. He unfolds his plans during the bishops meeting of October 17, 1963, and there is a sense of urge to it. But here too, the Metropolitan sparked an initiative that would have consequences for the period to come. Slipyj wanted to move fast, and immediately presented the bishops with a charter for the University – much inspired by the foundations he had laid out for the Theological Academy under Szeptyckyj[35]. In all probability, he acted too fast, for upon his request to sign the charter on the spot he was unable to find a majority. Several bishops judged the initiative immature and insufficiently adapted to the notion of a university in the west. Hermaniuk, who most of the time sided with Slipyj’s initiatives, wrote in his diary:

 

In my modest opinion, the proposed plan does not correspond to the idea of a university in the Western world. Probably the name of Ukrainian Scientific Institute, or Theological Academy would better suit this draft.

I was personally very sorry that we could not fulfil the expectations of our Metropolitan-Confessor. However, I have hope that this issue nevertheless can be solved somehow. The address of Most Rev. Avhustyn Hornjak, O.S.B.M., was rather unpleasant and perhaps impolite[36].

 

This made it all the more clear that the episcopal conference was far from a monolith. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian Catholic University of Pope St. Clement would be founded in Rome in 1963 with Slipyj as its first rector. This institute was regarded by Slipyj as the continuation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s Theological Academy in L’viv, founded in 1928 by Šeptyc’kyj, and closed by the Soviets in 1944.

 

 

A Peculiar Council Reception:

The Patriarchate Question and the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum

 

From the moment he returned to the free world, Josyf Slipyj faced opposition from the Basilian Fathers. The opposition was not new, it was grounded in events long before, dating back to the period before his incarceration, and to some extent belonging to the heritage of Andrej Szeptyckyj[37]. In 1963, and partially due to Slipyj’s actions to generate a broad support campaign among the Ukrainian diaspora faithful, as well as his contacts with the Russians, the opposition grew steadily. The Metropolitan’s presence at a reception in the Russian Embassy with ambassador Kozyrev, on November 7, 1963, on the occasion of the celebration of the 1917 Communist Revolution sparked strong reactions. A week after, the Italian periodical Il Borghese reported on his presence there. This gave impetus to an antagonism that went on after the closing of the Second Council Period on December 4, a few weeks only before Slipyj was designated the title of Archbishop Major by the Pope[38].

Slipyj insisted continually on the role he would assume as patriarch, and his authority over all Ukrainian Greek Catholics. Bishops Senysyn, Martynec, and Hornjak disagreed with him over this issue.  In particular Senysyn picked up on the Embassy visit, and in the course of 1964, polarization grew, while  others bishops, such as Bukatko, Sapeljak and Hermaniuk stood behind Slipyj and his dream. To illustrate, in February 1964, upon request of the Metropolitan, Maxim Hermaniuk prepared a letter to the pope, and also approached Cardinal Bea once again on the matter:

 

Today around 18:00 – in the evening I presented to His Eminence Cardinal Bea (who as chair of the Secretariat for Christian Unity is staying with us), the matter of the necessity of granting, by the Apostolic See, our Metropolitan Confessor J. Slipyj an appropriate dignity in the Church. For example, granting him the dignity of becoming the first Ukrainian Patriarch, simultaneously establishing the Ukrainian Patriarchate. The Cardinal asked me to give him a short memorandum concerning this matter, which he will present to the Holy Father next week. I promised to do this. God grant that this plan become reality[39].

 

When in mid-September, 1964, most of the bishops have returned to Rome for the opening of the Third Council Period, the agenda of the Bishops Conference is once more determined by the patriarchate issue. The immediate background was an article in the Svoboda-issue of September 11, entitled (English trans.): “Met. Senyšyn, Before Departing for the Council in Rome, Condemned Action on a Church Matter Without the Agreement of Church Authority.[40]”  In the article, Metropolitan Senysyn stressed his deep respect for Slipyj, but also cast doubts as to the origin and true nature of the gathering of signatures for a petition to the Holy Father for the creation of a patriarchate. And more, he and warned the Ukrainian clergy and faithful not to sign such petitions. This caused quite a stir[41]. During the meeting of the bishops of September 14, it eventually came to a secret vote: 13 bishops voted in favour of further actions in view of a patriarchate, 1 voted against, and one indicated that the time was not yet ripe. Later more press statements would follow, on which we will not focus here[42].

 

All of the above played in the back of Metropolitan Slipyj’s head when, on October 16, 1964, he offered his council speech regarding the schema De ecclesiis orientalibus[43]. I want to focus briefly on this intervention at the Council, since it is more important that what has been thought up until now. It brings together some themes, and is located within a discussion in the council hall that painfully marked the tensions among the Eastern Catholic Churches[44]. Naturally, Slipyj picked up on the Decree’s art. 11, which stated that new patriarchates ought to be established where needed[45]. Next, Slipyj acted preciesly against the coercion of Eastern Catholics into the Latin rite, warning against the risk that the Union of the Greek Catholics with Rome be seen only as a bridge towards latinization, and a river into the Latin Sea…[46] In the back of Slipyj’s head clearly played the latinizing tendencies of the Basilians in the Americas. Finally, he ended his speech with the notorious words ‘Miseremini Patres Conciliares, nobis, quia sumus Orientales[47]. But apart from that, the document on which Slipyj commented here would become very important to him, indeed. On November 21, 1964, the closing day of the third Period, it was promulgated as the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum. Soon after the Third Period closed, Slipyj made it known to all the Ukrainian bishops that as of the Feast of Theophany 1965 the Decree would become binding. This rapid reception of the Conciliar Decree is not without a motive: In fact, Slipyj would use precisely its art. 23 as an argument in favour of his cause. Orientalium Ecclesiarum 23, a very concise text, reads:

 

It belongs to the patriarch with his synod, or to the supreme authority of each church with the council of the hierarchs, to regulate the use of languages in the sacred liturgical functions and, after reference to the Apostolic See, of approving translations of texts into the vernacular[48].

 

However short, this article conflates, with some vagueness, three elements: the role and jurisdiction of a patriarch, the right of the Eastern Churches to follow its own rite and customs, and the question of the “supreme authority” within the Eastern Churches. All three have their importance for the role Metropolitan Slipyj wished to play within the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Community at large – in particular the question whether the Metropolitan was to govern over metropolitan sees other than his own. Slipyj interpreted this very phrase as conferring equal rights to a “patriarch” as to the “supreme authority of each church”, which for him signified that he in fact had the patriarchal status, and that Rome could not refuse that status. During the third intersession and the Fourth Period of Vatican II, Slipyj would put pressure on the Pope with precisely this reference. He could use it all the more, since in early 1965, the authoritative title of the cardinalate was offered to him by Paul VI. Slipyj would be created cardinal at the consistory of February 22, 1965, and receive the red biretta on February 25, followed by an audience with the Pope, where Slipyj expressed the longing of the Ukrainian Catholics for unity with Rome throughout the centuries. Met. Hermaniuk formulated the importance of the cardinalate for Slipyj as such:

 

The Almighty has heard the petitions of our people and elevated, in the person of our heroic Confessor of the Faith, our entire Church and particularly that part which together with him has endured in the native lands all suffering, burdens and humiliations. God grant that this joyful event, so significant in the history of our Church, place an end to the disorder […]. This event is the closest step to creating our patriarchate. God grant that this happen rather soon. May there be sincere gratitude to the Almighty for this His new blessing for us.[49]

 

In fact, this attitude was well reflected in the fact that the Ukrainian bishops decided henceforth to use the title “Blažennišyj / His Beatitude” for Slipyj, a title formally given to Patriarchs. Still, the high hopes raised were not to be met. In the course of May 1965, the assessor of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Msgr. Giovannelli, made it known that the interpretation of Orientalium Ecclesiarum offered by Slipyj was invalid. According to the Vatican officials “Cardinal Josyf Slipyj has no jurisdictional authority at all in our Church beyond the borders of the ecclesiastical province of Halyč. In liturgical matters, he probably could, personally or through someone else, have oversight of these matters, but he must refer everything for a decision by the Oriental Congregation[50]”. On top of this restrictive interpretation, another point was made. The Apostolic See strongly demanded the Ukrainian faithful to stop sending petitions to Rome concerning the creation of the patriarchate. On top of this, Slipyj suffered personnally from the news that the Vatican had conferred to Met. Senysyn the rank of Assistant to the Papal Throne[51]. But again, one sees that the problems come from various sides, not just the Basilians, the Vatican State Secretariat or the Oriental Congregation. Msgr. Willebrands from the Secretariat for Unity also notes some doubts, in his agenda on October 20, 1965:

 

Moi-même j’ai demandé [to Msgr. Dell’Acqua] où en était la question du patriarcat pour le card. Slipyj. Cela ne se fera pas; “sarebbe un disastro”. Le vrai problème c’est que les évêques ukrainiens cherchent un point central de référence pour leur église. Cela dépend d’eux-mêmes. Veulent-ils reconnaître Slipyj en tant que tel?[52]

 

 

Towards the End of the Council

 

In September 1965, Vatican II opened its fourth and final period. By the time the Council entered its last working session, the split within the Ukrainian community went deep, even causing political effects such as a split among the Banderivci fraction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. On the other hands, when looking at the meetings of the episcopal conference, the bishops sought to collaborate more closely on important topics, devoting much of their time to the introduction of modern ukrainian in the Ukrainian liturgy, thus carrying out the Vatican II liturgical reforms in their own realm. The Metropolitan spent much time discussing the importance of the “Old Calendar”, again a way to preserve unity among his flock both in the Ukrainian home territory and the diaspora.

As a council father, Slipyj held several noted council interventions during this period. On September 16, for instance, the Metropolitan spoke in a rather appreciative way about the text on religious liberty, which was under strong attack by many of the Latin American and Spanish Bishops at Vatican II. This degree of openness from someone who had suffered personnally and deeply from the effects of intolerance and the lack of religious liberty from the side of communism – so feared by precisely the aforementioned bishops – made a deep impression, even if Slipyj speech lasted somewhat too long, and was interrupted by Cardinal Agagianian[53]. The question of Religious Liberty was tantamount to Slipyj, who had endorsed the principles laid out by John XXIII in his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris without any hesitation, and had even carefully translated the encyclical into Ukrainian. The importance of the topic, and above all the insistence on the “freedom of coercion”[54], only really became obvious when later during this last Council period, on November 19, 1965. On that day, Slipyj and his colleague bishops issued a “Common Letter” explaining to the council fathers the relationship between religious freedom and the public order, which precisely under communist rule, was very problematic[55].

Offering long speeches appeared to have been one of the Metropolitan’s habits, since the same thing occurred at the end of Slipyj’s next council intervention, delivered on October 1, 1965. This time, talking about the Schema On the Church in the Modern World, Slipyj expressed his concern that the text was entirely focusing on the “Western” modern world and neglecting the problems of the East[56]. But the attention of th council fathers was raised more, when Slipyj was reminded twice by the moderating Cardinal Suenens that his time was up. The Metropolitan carried on, and started citing Suenens, who in turn reacted with the quip: Gratias pro citationibus, sed velis concludere [57]. The entire event caused some laughter in the Council Hall.

Finally, before coming to some conclusions, we should mention Slipyj’s continuing initiatives to address the Ukrainian faithful as a whole. In that sense, he strongly supported the tradition of the Episcopal Conference to draft Joint Pastoral Letters, informing the flock of the council, and explaining its importance for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Community. This is important, for more than anything, it shows the particularity of the Ukrainian episcopate within the group of the council fathers[58], but also how they insisted on taking the heritage of Vatican II at heart. In this, Slipyj shared without any reticence, as he pushed further and carefully followed each step in the process of drafting the Common Pastoral Letter on the Council. Notwithstanding some obstructions, on December 6, 1965, the Letter was signed by all members of the Ukrainian Hierarchy present in Rome[59]. With it, the delicate process of conciliar reception was to take its start, but that falls outside of the limits of this contribution[60].

 

 

Conclusions

 

By means of closing thoughts, a few things can be said: Initially, the actions of Josyf Slipyj at Vatican II may have caused some surprise among both members of the Ukrainian hierarchy and Vatican officials. The return of the Metropolitan of Kyiv-Halyč after eighteen years of confinement by the Soviets forced him to re-invent himself, and his surroundings. The combined context of Slipyj being in a “second exile” and the often fast and tumultuous evolutions at the Second Vatican Council made this all the more complex. Hence, the Metropolitan’s rapid adaptation proved to be a difficult process, both on the level of Slipyj’s pastoral endeavours and hopes – raising the Kyiv See to the rank of a patriarchate, securing seminary and university education for Ukrainian Greek Catholics, safeguarding the byzantine character of his community in the diaspora… – and the theological level. Slipyj’s theological vocabulary had not evolved sufficiently to make it fit for some of the theological battles fought at the Council[61], although he did engage in various debates, ranging from the one on religious liberty, over the ecclesiological debates, until the topic of the Eastern Churches. In much of his speeches, as prof. Jan Grootaers has pointed out, Slipyj’s perspective was politico-ecclesiastical rather than theological. On the Roman front, his concern was to keep his church out of the centralizing grip of the Vatican forces, while on the side of the Ukrainian side: he was keen on safeguarding the Eastern character of his church, steering it away from latinizing tendencies. All of this made for a difficult and at occasions personnally painful role to play. Surely, the Metropolitan’s suffering had not ended with the journey from Moscow to Rome. Looking back at all of this, one cannot but admire the force and intensity with which he acted during Vatican II.

 

 

[1] Katholiek Documentatie Centrum (Nijmegen, The Netherlands): Private papers Willebrands, 199: Notes on the release of Met. J. Slipyj, 1994, 3p. In it, Willebrands refers to the book by Sergio Trasatti, La croce e la stella (Milan, 1993).

[2] Jaroslav Pelikan, Confessor Between East and West. A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj (Grand Rapids MI, 1990).

[3] Leo Declerck (ed.), Les agendas conciliaires de Mgr. J. Willebrands, secrétaire du secrétariat pour l’Unité des chrétiens, (Leuven, 2009).

[4] Karim Schelkens & Jaroslav Z. Skira (ed.), The Conciliar Diary of Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk C.SS.R. (1911-1996). Critically Annotated Bilingual Edition, (Leuven, 2012).

[5] An interesting account of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic participation in the Second Vatican, was published shortly after Vatican II by Walter Dushnyck, The Ukrainian-Rite Catholic Church at the Ecumenical Council 1962-1965 (New York NY, 1967).

[6] The only UGGC bishop to have published a full account of the council is Andrij Sapeljak, Ukraïns’ka Cerkva na II Vatukans’komu Sobori (Rome-Buenos Aires, 1967). On p. 72 of his book, Sapeljak accounts how the bishops felt the absence of Slipyj. In their first group picture, in Slipyj’s absence they placed a large portrait of him in the center of the photo.

[7] On Slipyj’s liberation, see Ivan Choma, Storia della liberazione del metropolita Josep Slipyi dalla prigiona sovietica, in Intrepido Pastore (Rome, 1984), pp. 323-47; Giancarlo Zizola, L’Utopia di Papa Giovanni (Assisi, 19733), pp. 205-6.

[8] For a survey, see my recent study on Slipyj’s release: Vatican Diplomacy After the Cuban Missile Crisis. New Light on the Release of Josyf Slipyj, in Catholic Historical Review 98 (2011), 680-713.

[9] The detail is not found in any source, and was told to the author by a family member of Card. Willebrands, Mrs. Lies Willebrands.

[10] The relationship between Rome and the communist world has been the subject of various excellent studies, such as those by HansJakob Stehle, Geheimdiplomatie im Vatikan: Die Päpste und die Kommunisten, (Zürich, 1993), and Andrea Riccardi, Il Vaticano e Mosca, 1940-1990, (Rome & Bari, 1992). On the Russian Orthodox Church under communist rule, see Dimitri Vladimirovich Pospielovsky, The Russian Church under the Soviet Regime 1917-1982, 2 vols. (New York, 1984); Bohdan Rostyslav Bociurkiw, The Formulation of Religious Policy in the Soviet Union, in James E. Wood (ed.) Readings on Church and State (Waco TX, 1989), pp. 303-18; and also John Anderson, Religion, State and Politics in the Soviet Union and Successor States (Cambridge MA, 1994).

[11] Schelkens, Vatican Diplomacy After the Cuban Missile Crisis; and Trasatti, La Croce e la stella, pp. 188-189.

[12] Norman Cousins, The Improbable Triumvirate: An Asterisk to the Hopeful Year 1962-1963 (New York, 1972). Also see the archive dossier in Archives Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels: Personal Archives Suenens, box 20: Voyage États-Unis. Papiers Cousins-Morlion.

[13] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, February 20, 1963.

[14] Cf. Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, February 25, 1963: “Today I received news from Most Rev. Ivan and Very Rev. Fr. Krajevs’kyj from Rome regarding their contacts with Met. Josyf Slipyj. Met. Josyf is keeping well, from the looks of the letter of Most Rev. Ivan Bučko, and here the game of large stakes is playing out between the Apostolic See and the Soviet regime. God grant that the freedom of our Church and of the entire Ukrainian people finally arrive. Today I decided to travel to Rome, to meet personally with Metropolitan Kyr Josyf.”

[15] Cfr. Alberto Melloni, L’Altra Roma: Politica e S. Sede durante il Concilio Vaticano II, 1959-1965 (Bologna, 2000).

[16] At that time, no Ukrainian Greek Catholics were represented in the Secretariat for Christian Unity, and Met. Hermaniuk expressed his hopes to have Slipyj appointed as a member. Instead, at the end of the Second Period, Hermaniuk himself was elected into the Secretariat. Slipyj was appointed a member to the Congregation of the Oriental Churches (not of the Conciliar Commission, however) by the Pope. See Dushnyck, The Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church, p. 46.

[17] Leo Declerck (ed.), Agendas Willebrands: September 26, 1963: “11 h 30 – 12 h 30 : Visite de Mgr Slipyj pour Arrighi, Duprey et moi-même.”

[18] On the evolution of the Vatican Ostpolitik, also see the recent book by Philippe Chenaux, L’église catholique et le communisme en Europe, 1917-1989. De Lénine à Jean-Paul II (Paris, 2009).

[19] Schelkens & Skira, Diary Hermaniuk, September 28, 1963: “When all the bishops were already gathered in the salon of the College (downstairs) I escorted in Metropolitan Kyr Josyf Slipyj, whom the bishops greeted with loud applause. After a prayer I welcomed our dear Metropolitan-Confessor in the name of our Bishops Conference and invited him to assume the leadership of our conference. Metropolitan J. Slipyj briefly expressed his thankfulness and seemingly stated, that if we desire that our Bishops Conference successfully function, we have to:

  1. Swear an oath to maintain
  2. Regard decisions of the conference having two-thirds of the votes as binding.

On this point, immediately an unpleasant discussion unfolded, led by Metropolitan Ambrosij [Senyšyn]. The oath was taken, but the second point was deferred.”

[20] For Agagianian’s opening words, see AS II/1, pp. 213-214.

[21] Reported in L’Osservatore Romano 243, October 20, 1962, under the heading “L’augurio paterno di Sua Santità al Movimento Cristiano Ucraino”, p. 1.

[22] The occasion of the martyr’s celebration and the transfer of his relics to St. Peter’s Basilica – initiated by Slipyj – caused a negative stir among the Russian Orthodox observers, who threatened to leave the Council. See Diary de Lubac, Vol. II, November 29, 1963; and also Emmanuel Lanne, La perception en Occident de la participation du Patriarcat de Moscou à Vatican II, in Alberto Melloni (ed.), Vatican II in Moscow 1959-1965 (Leuven, 1997), pp. 121-122.

[23] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, November 25, 1963.

[24] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, October 4, 1963: “16:30 – the second meeting of our Bishops Conference in the College of St. Josafat presided over by Metropolitan J. Slipyj. Following my advice, completely suppressed was the letter of Metropolitan Ambrosij (Senyšyn) against the oath of bishops regarding the preservation of secrecy of our deliberations”.

[25] Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II [henceforth AS], II/2, p. 393. The Council Acts indicate that Slipyj – announced as Archiepiscopus Leopolitanus Ucrainorum – was applauded by the congregation even before he attempted to speak. Also see Neophytos Edelby, Il Vaticano II nel diario di un vescovo arabo. Ed Riccardo Cannelli (Milan, 1996), p. 167: “Il presidente dell’assemblea annuncia in seguito un intervento di mons. Slipyj, metropolita ucraino di L’vov, liberato dalla prigione l’anno precedente. Ma questi, per ragioni sconosciute, si scusa. Verrà ascoltato domani. La sala nondimeno vibra di applausi commossi per questo confessore della fede.”

[26] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, October 10, 1963: “It was decided today:

  1. To prepare the draft of a Common Pastoral Letter (I was to take care of this issue).
  2. Bishops who would like to speak at the Council in the name of all of our bishops should notify the secretary of the Conference Most Rev. Nil’ Savaryn.
  3. Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj read for the bishops the text of his speech tomorrow at the Council.”

[27] See the speech in AS II/2, pp. 442-446. Slipyj’s speech was summarized differently by G. Caprile’s chronicle (part II, p. 86), in Il Concilio Vaticano II: Cronache del Concilio Vaticano II, V Vols., (Rome: 1966-1969). According to Caprile the highlights of the speech were: the expectation that the Council would reflect on atheism and on social issues; the statement that the Pope’s mission is directly dependent upon Christ and, therefore, the Pope supersedes the college of bishops; there are arguments in favour of, but also against, the reformation of the diaconate. Slipyj ends his speech with a plea to elevate the Metropolia of Kyiv-Halyč to patriarchal status.

[28] See the study by Bernard M. Daly, Maxim Hermaniuk: Canadian Father of Collegiality at Vatican II … and After, in Gilles Routhier (ed.), Vatican II au Canada: Enracinement et réception (Montréal, 2001), pp. 427-439.

[29] Cf. Edelby, Il Vaticano II, p. 209: “Il metropolita Slipyj ha fatto un intervento poco chiaro. Ha voluto fungere da conciliatore tra partigiani e oppositori della collegialità episcopale e di un consiglio universale di vescovi attorno al papa.”

[30] For a brief history of patriarchal movement in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, see Vasyl Markus, The Role of the Patriarchal Movement in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, in David J. Goa (ed.), The Ukrainian Religious Experience: Tradition and the Canadian Cultural Context (Edmonton, 1989), pp.157-170; Also see Thomas E. Bird & Eva Piddubcheshen (ed.) Archiepiscopal and Patriarchal Autonomy (New York, 1972), as well as the article by the Basilian M. Vojnar, Projekt konstytuciï patriarchatu Ukraïns’koï cerkvy, in Bohoslovija 34 (1970), pp. 5-39.

[31] Declerck (ed.), Agendas Willebrands, October 22, 1963: “12 h: Conversation avec Borovoj au Secrétariat. Sa crainte des développements ultérieurs en ce qui concerne Slipyj et l’attitude de celui-ci, qui a des implications politiques.”

[32] Declerck (ed.), Agendas Willebrands, October 13, 1963: 8 h 30: “Father Long téléphone: Mgr Cardinale a téléphoné hier au sujet de l’intervention de Mgr Slipyj concernant la restauration du patriarcat de Kiev. Selon Mgr Cardinale il ne faut plus faire mention au concile du patriarcat de Kiev, sa signification étant purement historique et non politique.”

[33] Declerck (ed.), Agendas Willebrands, October 23, 1963: “Mgr Slipyj téléphone au sujet de l’invitation à Skrypnyk. Les évêques ukrainiens lui ont demandé d’aller chez le pape. Il ne veut pas mais il me demande de faire quelque chose. Je lui en parlerai demain”; Also see on October 24: “Au Secrétariat, parlé avec Father Long au sujet d’un arrangement possible de la question Skrypnyk. Conversation avec Mgr Slipyj à Saint-Pierre; il a déjà vu le card. Bea. Il écrira lui-même à Skrypnyk. Après son arrivée à Rome, nous verrons.”

[34] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, October 17, 1963: “17:00 – consultation of the Ukrainian Bishops Conference at the College of St. Josafat. Most Rev. Met. J. Slipyj presented to the bishops his own plan for establishing a ‘Ukrainian Catholic University’ in Rome. Discussion ensued. A majority of bishops stated support for the idea of studying the question of establishing such a university, yet only seven declared support for the immediate signing of the founding charter. When it came to a vote there were only 9 votes in favour and 5 against.”

[35] On Slipyj’s concern for theological education, see Pelikan, Confessor Between East and West, pp. 133-140. The Theological Academy was re-established in 1994, subsequently becoming the Ukrainian Catholic University.

[36] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, October 17, 1963.

[37] Among some of the Basilians there was a tendency to refer to the exemptio of the Order in order to escape the authority of the bishops. This constituted a difficulty for the principle of the collegiality of bishops, one of the major issues on the conciliar agenda. As a result of a reform in 1882, the Basilian Order had become more centralised. Later on, attempts were made to retrieve less strict structures: Metropolitan Šeptyc’kyj tried in the 1920s to return to the traditional structures of monastic life in Ukraine, and he reproached the Basilians’ attempts to ‘latinize’ the liturgy. Slipyj also reacted against the influence of the Basilians, who were dissatisfied with Šeptyc’kyj’s announcement that Slipyj would be his successor. Cf. Pelikan, Confessor Between East and West, pp. 126-127, 186-188; also see Cyrille Korolevskij, Le prophète ukrainien de l’unité: Métropolite André Sheptyc’kyj (1865-1944) (Paris, 1964) [2nd edition in 2005], pp. 260-277.

[38] See the official decree conferring this title, in AAS 56 (1964), p. 214.

[39] Schelkens & Skira, Diary Hermaniuk, February 28, 1964.

[40] Cf. Svoboda, 170 (September 11, 1964).

[41] Cf. Sapeljak, Ukraïns’ka Cerkva, pp. 250-253.

[42] In its issue of January 8, 1965, The Ukrainian Weekly, 4/LXXII, carried the full text of an interview that Senyšyn gave on Dec. 26, 1964, to the editors from Ameryka and Svoboda, among others, in which Senyšyn affirmed that, according to Vatican II, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has the right to a patriarchal status, though he is opposed to the campaign of petitions. He also indicated that now may not be the best time for a patriarchate because a number of Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchs object to it, and because it would further divide the Ukrainian churches. He also admitted that he has had differences of opinion with Slipyj, though he still respected him. He also denied that he had aspirations of being named the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s next patriarch.

[43] AS III/5, pp. 9-43. A broader study of the relevance and importance of the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum for the UGCC was published by Victor J. Popishil, Orientalium Ecclesiarum: The Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches of the II Vatican Council: Canonical and Pastoral Commentary (New York, 1965).

[44] Edelby, Il Vaticano II, p. 258: Il dibattito di questa mattina a San Pietro, sebbene in generale favorevole all’Oriente, ha anche mostrato delle divergenze abbastanza profonde tra i padri orientali su alcuni problemi. Il vescovo maronita di Sarba, mons. Doumith, ha attacatto a fondo lo schema, chiedendo il suo dislocamento e la sua ripartizione in altri schemi. Mons. Ghattas, copto, ha chiesto l’unificazione della giurisdizione, come d’altra parte mon. Doumith ha chiesto, contrariamente al suo patriarca, che si proibisca la latinizzazione dell’Oriente. Mons. Zoghby ha ugualmente fatto un importante discorso, ma di carattere piuttosto dogmatico. Il discorso più impressionante è stato quello di mons. Slipyj; che ha condotto un attacco a fondo contro la latinizzazione dell’Oriente. Pronunciato da un confessore della fede, questo discorso aveva qualcosa di veramente toccante.”

[45] In the same council period, a warm plea for the establishment of new Patriarchates was held by the German Benedictine abbot Hoeck, and highly welcomed by the majority of the Ukrainian bishops. See his intervention in AS III/5, pp. 788-805, esp. p. 793, under the header “De Patriarchis”.

[46] AS III/5, pp. 19-21, p. 21: Denique tali actione funesta timendum est ne acatholici orientales deterreantur cum ipsi sibi persuadeant, se suas Ecclesias, suos fideles, suos ritus et saepe saepius, nationem suam, se uniendo cum Ecclesia catholica, perdere posse. Quod repetunt nunc non solum fideles orthodoxi, set etiam athei autumantes nostram Unionem esse tantum pontem et tramitem ad latinizationem et evacuationem in mari latino.”

[47] AS III/5, pp. 19-21, p. 21: “Miseremini ergo nostri, venerabiles Patres, quia orientales sumus, et adiuvate nos, ut nostram missionem in Ecclesia catholica alte implere queamus.” Cf. Sapeljak, Ukraïns’ka Cerkva, p. 225, who simply reports Slipyj’s request for assistance for the Eastern Catholics in the Church’s mission, which he does in the context of discussing the unfortunate history of the attempts of the West’s latinization of the East.

[48] Decretum Orientalium Ecclesiarum, in AAS 57 (1965), pp. 76-89.

[49] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, January 25, 1965.

[50] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, May 11, 1965. The discussion would be carried further, when on October 16, 1965, Met. Hermaniuk visited Card. Testa at the Oriental Congregation, asking “that the Apostolic See resolve the question of the Suprema аuctoritatis in our Church, and grant His Eminence Cardinal J. Slipyj, as Major Metropolitan, the authority over all our metropolia and exarchates in Ukraine and outside of Ukraine.”

[51] Schelkens & Skira (ed.), Diary Hermaniuk, May 13, 1965: “18:00 – a visit at Cardinal Slipyj’s. He, despite his great moral suffering and humiliation, is keeping well. He has hope for the victory of truth and justice. The elevation of Metropolitan A. Senyšyn to the dignity of Assistant to the Papal Throne does not yet end the matter.”

[52] Declerck, Agendas Willebrands, October 20, 1965.

[53] AS IV/1, pp. 236-239.

[54] See Dushnyck, The Ukrainian Rite Catholic Church, who cites Slipyj on p. 67: “Future generations will be in admiration of this phase of the work of Vatican II. It would be well to stress the opportuneness of the doctrine of religious liberty in view of present-day religious persecutions, lest the document seem to be only academic and theoretical. Freedom from coercion is necessary for the Church but it is likewise necessary for the welfare of every state, in order that its citizens not be saddled with insupportable burdens.”

[55] This letter, signed by all the Ukrainian diaspora bishops, was distributed to all Council Fathers on the eve of the Council’s vote on the Declaration on religious freedom, on November 19, 1965. The document is found in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Conc. Vat. II, 1450.

[56] AS IV/3, pp. 101-142.

[57] Slipyj’s speech is found in AS IV/3, pp. 106-110..

[58] On the Ukrainians at Vatican II, see the study by Myroslav Tataryn, Canada’s Ukrainian Catholics and Vatican II: A Guide for the Future or Struggling with the Past?, in Michael Attridge, Catherine Clifford & Gilles Routhier (ed.), Vatican II: Expériences canadiennes – Canadian experiences (Ottawa, 2011), pp. 239-252

[59] The original Ukrainian text is found in Blahovisnyk, 1/1 (1965), pp. 3-24.

[60] On the postconciliar reception of Vatican II reforms by the UGCC, see Peter Galadza, The Reception of the Second Vatican Council by Greco-Catholics Ukraine, in Communio: International Catholic Review, 27 (2000), pp.312-339,

[61] This was also noted already during the Council by the Melkite bishop Neophytos Edelby, in his diary. See Edelby, Il Vaticano II, p. 154: “[Slipyj] è un grande amico nostro, anche se su alcuni punti la sua teologia ecumenica resta – a nostro avviso – un po’ troppo classica. Non bisogna dimenticare che da diciassette anni è rimasto tagliato fuori da ogni contatto con la teologia moderna. Ci siamo lasciati con una totale comprensione.”

Exhibit Opening “To the Light of Resurrection through the Thorns of Catacombs”

Iryna Ivankovych

 

Exhibit Opening “To the Light of Resurrection through the Thorns of Catacombs”

Matthew 5:10-12 (NKJV) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the legalization of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. In Ukraine and in the diaspora, it is being marked by numerous prayerful and scholarly events. This event serves as a unique opportunity to honor the martyrdom of the Church of the Catacombs and the lives of thousands of its martyrs who laid their lives for their faith.

Because we live in the United States, one may think that the idea of persecution of Christians is not very relevant today. However, in many countries today it is a crime to be a Christian. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, 2.2 billion people lived in 79 countries under significant restrictions on their religious freedom in 1980, with some three million Ukrainian Greek Catholics being deprived of this right for almost half a century. Yet, with dignity and unbreakable spirit, the largest Eastern Catholic Church walked a long way to the Light of Resurrection through the Thorns of Catacombs, which is and still will be examined and analyzed by historians, sociologists, and scholars around the world.

It was this necessity of recording the history of the Church in the Underground that prompted an alumnae of Harvard University, Dr. Boris Gudziak, to establish the Institute of Church History back in 1992. From its beginning, the main goal of the Institute was to carry on the research project titled “Profiles of Fortitude: An Oral History of the Clandestine Life of the UGCC, 1946-1989,” a captivating intellectual topic. How was it possible that common, ordinary, defenseless people could withstand and resist the unlimited forces of the Soviet superpower?

The project “Profiles of Fortitude,” was crowned with an exhibit titled “To the Light of Resurrection through the Thorns of Catacombs” which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the legalization of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 2009. The Church became the victim of deliberate religious persecution by the Soviet regime that attempted to impose atheism. The so-called ‘L’viv Sobor’ of 1946, organized by the Soviet authorities and its repressive services, completed the reprisal of the insubordinate Church. The ‘Sobor’ acknowledged liquidation of the UGCC and its ‘reunification’ with the Russian Orthodox Church. Officially dissolved and banned by the Stalinist regime, the UGCC began a new chapter in its history, the life in the Catacombs. From 1945-46 till 1989, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was the largest illegal Church in the world and the largest community in the Soviet Union, which despite persecutions and interdictions, preserved its identity and offered resistance to the totalitarian Soviet system. The Church of the Catacombs embraced all social strata. It had its bishops, priests and monastic orders. Despite unprecedented totalitarian control and forcible suppression, this community found many ways and means of existence in next-to-impossible conditions. Not only did it miraculously survive, but demonstrated a phenomenal spiritual renaissance. It is impossible to imagine the independence of Ukraine, its spiritual and moral foundation without the underground paschal testimony of its martyrs and confessors of faith.

The hereby presented exhibition “To the Light of Resurrection through the Thorns of Catacombs” consists of twenty thematic banners and is based on the documents compiled in 1998-2008 by the Institute, as well as the memoirs of eyewitnesses and active participants of the underground. One can also view documents from State archives, as well as numerous pictures from private collections of survivors. The exhibit tells the numerous life stories of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic clergy, monastic orders and laity; each one a unique tale of human endurance. All of them bear witness to a profound Christian faith and steadfast fidelity to God, His Church and His people. Chronologically, the exhibit covers the period between 1939 and 1991, and it reflects three important phases of the UGCC history in the 20th century: forcible liquidation, the underground era, and legalization in 1989. We are offered a history of the Church in the period between the two world wars.  This period is followed by the details of the horrific Stalinist campaign of intimidation and defamation of the leaders and clergy of the UGCC. The photos of the martyrs are highly revealing in their ability to document their resistance to organized terror. The succeeding banners uncover the entire process of the planned liquidation of the UGCC.

Later on, we learn about Hierarchical Structure of the Church in the Catacombs led by Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, Bishop Vasyl Velchykovsky, and Bishop Volodymyr Sternyuk. The “Geography of Imprisonment” is by far the most disquieting and yet the most inspiring in the undying struggle of a faith-filled people. No effort was spared to break the resistance of the UGCC clergy, religious and laity.  We learn of the cruel interrogations, the torture of those arrested, the severity of the sentences and the inhuman conditions in the deportations to the GULAG of the Soviet Union.

The scene shifts in the next banners in which we are brought into the actual underground pastoral ministry where secrecy was the order of the day. Meetings in apartments of various religious persons were necessary to outwit the snooping authorities. The use of a hand copied prayer book defied the police-state’s orders forbidding printed books dealing with religion or liturgical practices.

As in the early Christian communities, survival in the catacombs of Ukraine depended largely on the laity who had become the backbone to the underground clergy.  They offered sanctuaries for the sacraments, security for the liturgical vessels, “legal” counsel to keep “open” the closed churches, and provide essential links between their priests and anyone in need of pastoral care. They organized protests against church closures. In this clandestine resistance, the role of women receives special acknowledgement for taking responsibility for catechizing and keeping alive the faith of the children of the UGCC.

How the underground clergy were formed is one of the most intricate parts of the story of the UGCC’s survival amid the necessary secrecy needed for their eventual reemergence as a faith-filled church community with full civil rights.

The photos of the anti-Union policy illustrate the perils and the vicious acts perpetrated against individual churches. These tactics included converting churches into storage units, extra hospitals, cafes, grocery stores and recreational facilities.

No better way to illustrate more fully the Church of the Catacombs, the Church of a martyred people, than by the chapter on Patriarch Josyf Slipyj who, to his dying day, championed the cause of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. No tribute here can do complete justice to such a prophetic force and inspiration. He survived harsh imprisonment of 18 years. In many ways the climactic portrait of Patriarch Slipyj captures well the spirit of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church that has endured a vicious repression and overcome its enemies with faith, compassion, and daring. Through his efforts and living martyrdom, he inspired the resistance movement that overcame prison, torture, murder and systemic terror to lead his people to become a “Church reborn” with full civil rights and a future full of hope. The light of Jesus’ Resurrection had come to spiritual life again in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In the final banners, the closing tribute to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is both a fitting summary of the courage and faith of the people of Ukraine as well as a solid recommendation of this exhibit that has so beautifully brought to life the moving history of overcoming persecution and death. “The lengthy existence of the underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church became a manifestation of the spiritual and moral maturity of the Ukrainian people; it was a sign of the indestructability of the national spirit. The Church had revived and is now continuing its activity in an independent Ukraine.

To facilitate each visitor’s journey through the exhibit, a comprehensive book has been put together that contains historical data, copies of secret documents, memoirs, excerpts from interviews, and numerous pictures witnessing to the road that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has come through the thorns of Catacombs. Published initially in Ukrainian, it is was subsequently translated into English and is now available for the English-speaking audience. It is a product of mutual cooperation between the St. Sophia Religious Association of Ukrainian Catholics in the USA and the Institute of Church History.

As proven by the exhibit, the lengthy existence of the underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church became a manifestation of the spiritual and moral maturity of the Ukrainian people; it was a sign of the indestructability of the national spirit. On June 27, 2001, His Holiness John Paul II beatified many UGGC bishops and priests during a Pontifical Divine Liturgy in L’viv, and in doing so recognized the spiritual triumph of the Church which, amidst the hardship of a totalitarian regime, preserved its faith in Jesus Christ, its fidelity to Church unity and its hope in the inevitable Resurrection.

Let us pray that this exhibit will inspire a deeper spiritual thinking and a re-examination of personal values and attitudes.

Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky, C.Ss.R.- “Father of the underground Church in Ukraine”

Rev. John Sianchuk, C.Ss.R.

Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky, C.Ss.R.

– “Father of the underground Church in Ukraine”

 

Over twenty years have passed since the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has been able to practice its faith freely and openly. In 1946, this Church had been declared an illegal body by the Soviet Union. Its hierarchy arrested. Many thousands of clergy, religious and laity were imprisoned, tortured and even killed for their faith.  In 2001, Pope John Paul II [1]during a pastoral visitation to Ukraine, took the opportunity to beatify a small number of these people and declare them to be Christian martyrs for the faith. Among those beatified was Blessed Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky, a Redemptorist. This paper will describe Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky’s activities during the underground Church in Ukraine from 1955 to 1969, both as a Redemptorist priest and later as a bishop. His leadership in these activities led Bishop Julian Voronowsky, who himself was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Vasyl, to call him “The Father of the Underground Church.”[2] This paper will also include a brief presentation on his life, his two arrests, the interrogations and his imprisonment.

This paper is based on material found in the Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky Shrine and Museum Archives, which are located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The sources used come from more than 70 interviews which were conducted since 2004 in Ukraine, taken with eye-witnesses who knew Bishop Vasyl personally and worked with him. These recorded interviews are limited by the clarity of memory of those being interviewed. However, much interesting information was uncovered. In 2009, documents from the first and second arrest were obtained from the SBU archives in Ukraine, (the former KGB archives). They comprise a total of six volumes with approximately 2000 pages.  Material from Blessed Vasyl’s autobiography and other relevant documents were also consulted.

Vasyl Velychkovsky was born on June 1, 1903, into a priestly family in Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk), Western Ukraine. His father Volodymyr was a priest, as were both his grandfathers, Julian Velychkovsky and Nicholas Theodorovych. Many of his uncles and aunts were in monastic orders or diocesan priests. Vasyl was mainly home schooled, spending some time in the Basilan juvenate of St. Josaphat in Buchach. During the First World War, he joined the Sichovy Striltsi, a Ukrainian rifleman regiment. He was captured, arrested, imprisoned, and then later escaped from prison. After returning home, he entered the major seminary in Lviv to study for the priesthood. During his diaconal year, in 1924, he joined the Redemptorist Congregation. This missionary congregation was recently invited from Belgium by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky to work in Ukraine. A year later after his novitiate, he was ordained to the priesthood on October 9, 1925 in Zboisk, near Lviv.  Most of his ministry was as a missionary preacher.

Soon after his ordination and after a brief period of being on staff in the Redemptorist juvenate in Zboisk, he was assigned to the monastery in Stanislaviv where he began giving parish missions. In 1928, he joined Father Nicholas Charnetsky[3] in the newly formed ministry in Volyn. Here he served immigrants from Halychyna. He also worked with the Orthodox faithful. Russian Orthodoxy was enforced in the Volyn region in 1885. Prior to this, the people of Volyn were mainly Greek Catholics. Fr. Vasyl was able to bring many of the congregations back to the Greek Catholic Church. He was always careful to maintain the Orthodox ritual. In Halychyna, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was quite Latinized. Charnetsky and Velychkovsky were very careful not to introduce these elements into the church in Volyn.  At that time, Volyn was part of Poland and the polish authorities, including the Polish church, had an agenda to polanize the Orthodox faithful. The Redemptorists, including Fr. Vasyl, refused to do this and in fact were doing the opposite by uniting these people with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church under Metropolitan Andrey Shyptytsky. For this reason, under the pressure of the Polish government, Fr. Vasyl was forced to leave Volyn in 1935.

Fr. Vasyl returned to Stanislaviv and became the superior of the Redemptorist monastery. From there, together with other Redemptorists, he preached parish missions throughout parishes in the Stanislaviv region. The monastery chapel was an active centre of pastoral work. Being near the university, students frequented the chapel. Fr. Vasyl organized groups of young people. He had a ministry for young women coming from the villages, who were seeking employment in the city. These women would often fall into immoral situations. He organized them and gave them moral strength. They would later save him from early imprisonment. Not only students, but also the intelligentia would come to the monastery chapel for spiritual support from Fr. Velychkovsky, especially through the sacrament of confession.

In June 1940, while the Soviets had already occupied Western Ukraine for nine months, even against the advice of the local bishop, Hryhory Khomyshyn, Fr. Vasyl led a procession of some 20,000 people through the streets of Stanislaviv on the occasion of the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The Soviets were not confident enough to stop the procession. After a few days, Fr. Vasyl was called out for an interrogation. During this interrogation, he suffered both physically and emotionally. After a day, the police released him, fearing the growing protests of the young women who were ready to lay down their lives for their spiritual father.

During the Nazi rule over Western Ukraine, 1941- 44, Fr. Vasyl spent most of his time in priestly ministry in Ternopil. He was in Lviv, when the Soviets were advancing upon the city in 1944. Because of the extreme danger, his religious superiors advised him not to return to Ternopil. However, he embraced this precarious situation and journeyed back to look after the people in that city – the sick, the orphans and the elderly, who could not leave or escape the advancing Soviet army.

As the war was ending, on the night of April 10-11, 1945, the Soviets arrested many of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops, including Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, Bishops Nicholas Charnetsky, Nykyta Budka, Hryhori Khomyshyn, and Ivan Latyshevsky. Many clergy were also arrested. On July 26, 1945, the order to arrest Fr. Vasyl was given. Because he kept giving short missions in various villages, the authorities could not find him. However, on August 7, 1945, he was at the monastery in Ternopil when the NKVD came, did a house search, and arrested him. In the police station, he was given the choice to join the Russian Orthodox Church and be released or refuse and be incarcerated, perhaps even face death. Fr. Vasyl refused to sign any documents. With an authoritative voice, he replied: “No, Never! Under any circumstances… I have said NO once and for all; and you can shoot me, and kill me, but you shall get from me no other word.” [4]  He was taken to the basement of the NKVD headquarters in Chortkiv for two months. During this time no investigation concerning his case was done. However, during this time in order to influence him to join the Russian Orthodox Church, he was physically tortured.

He was later transferred to Kyiv to the Lukianivska prison. Here the formal investigation of his criminal case began. The purpose of this investigation was not to search for evidence nor conduct interviews with witnesses who could prove his criminal activity, but to torture him until he confessed to crimes he never committed.  He was interrogated eleven times, some lasted twelve hours, one lasted two days. Usually, the interrogations were conducted at night. Sleeplessness, isolation, food deprivation, physical and moral abuse helped to breakdown his will-power. Finally, he confessed to the crimes of which he was being accused.  Eventually, Fr. Vasyl “confessed” to having published a small calendar in Stanslaviv, which contained the words “save us from the red horde”. [5] This was enough to trump up a charge of anti-soviet propaganda. Only then on January 8, 1946, did they formally charge him with a crime. He was formally accused of conducting anti-Soviet propaganda by: preaching sermons with an anti-Soviet context; organizing anti-Soviet organizations; supporting the anti-Soviet activities of the Ukrainian nationalists by writing a greeting in a nationalist newspaper; organizing an anti-Soviet celebration in honour of the German occupants; and publishing anti-Soviet nationalist literature.[6] The investigator had proof for all the charges listed above and most importantly the accused agreed to the accusations presented to him.                     His trial was held on June 26, 1946. He was quickly found guilty. Therefore, “taking to account the status of the accused and the level of his criminal actions […] the Regional Court sentences Velychkovsky […] on the basis of article 54-10 of USSR to the highest level of retribution by firing squad with the confiscation of all his possessions.”[7] His trial was conducted improperly, since he only saw his lawyer for the first time in the courtroom. His sentence was based on the unjustly conducted investigation and on his forced confession. Even though the whole case was conducted so unfairly, Fr. Vasyl receives the highest form of punishment, that is, to be executed by a firing squad.

He spent approximately three months on death row. Notwithstanding that he was condemned because he would not abandon his Catholic faith, he continued his priestly ministry in prison. In some sense, this is where Fr. Vasyl’s underground church ministry began. At the request of his fellow-prisoners on death row, he began to catechize them and prepare them for death.[8]  Sr. Innocentia Sytko, who worked with Fr. Vasyl in the underground church, shared that he gave the prisoners a ten day retreat during which time no one was called out to the “wall.”[9] After three months when his name was called, he left his cell ready to give up his life for his beliefs. However, his sentence was changed to ten years of hard labor in the Soviet laager camps.  He first spent a year and a half in camps near Kirov working in the forest. Then he was transferred to work in the coal mines in Vorkuta, which is north of the Arctic Circle.

From a fellow prisoner in Vorkuta, Boris Mirus, it is known that Fr. Vasyl continued his pastoral work in the laager camps. Fr. Vasyl confessed the prisoners, counseled and consoled them. “He had a colossal faith in God, in the Church, in Christ, and when I remember him, I think ‘This man can endure all sufferings like Christ on the Cross.’ He confessed us, although that was forbidden and very dangerous if caught. But he confessed in the mine shafts…During confession, he was very dignified. After we all felt better and lighter. Many of the men went to him… all came to him and confessed especially on the feast days.” [10] He would daily celebrate the Divine Liturgy early in the morning in the barracks on his bed, using a large tablespoon as his chalice. The wine he used was made from raisins, which he occasionally received in packages from home. He also celebrated the Divine Liturgy on feast days deep in the mine shafts. Mirus described being present at these Liturgies and how those trusted, would all gather around 4 am in a dark mine shaft, placing two guards on either side of the shaft in case of any intruders. Then silently and profoundly, Fr. Vasyl would celebrate the Holy Mysteries and offer communion to those present. These services made a deep impression on Mirus. “We would gather in the shafts for the Service. I was present when some fifteen to twenty men, who were believers, honest people, would gather with guards on either side.”[11] He also shared how Fr. Vasyl was always praying on a home-made rosary, made of prison black bread and string. He prayed for the prisoners and for the guards. These difficult circumstances formed Fr. Vasyl for the work he would later do in the underground church.

Fr. Vasyl had a great authority in the camp. Even the guards feared and ‘respected’ him.  On the important Soviet commemorate days (May 1, etc.), he was thrown into solitary confinement so that he would not be able to start any protests. “They considered such a man dangerous during their feast days, that he would begin some agitation or protests, for he knew how to organize people… therefore, two or three days before these feast days, they threw him into an interior prison.”[12]  After Stalin’s death in 1953, many riots broke out in the laager camps. Fr. Vasyl was falsely accused of initiating the one that occurred in his camp. He was then transferred to the infamous severe prison in Vladimir near Moscow. In 1954, Fr. Vasyl was sent back to Vorkuta, because of a protest letter[13] he wrote to the General Procurator of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow in which he claimed his innocence. On July 9, 1955, he was released from prison and sent to Lviv. He found an apartment in the inner city of Lviv, 11/3 Soborna square. He shared this apartment with a Redemptorist brother, Brother Irenee Manko.

Fr. Vasyl arrived in Lviv to find all the Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches closed. All religious monasteries were disbanded. On March 10, 1946 during the so-called pseudo- Synod of Lviv, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was declared an illegal body. Officially, its members joined the Russian Orthodox Church. It now became illegal to openly practice the Ukrainian Greek Catholic faith. One could not gather for any services. The priests could not celebrate public Liturgies, conduct baptisms, marriages or funerals. Catechism could not be taught. Neither retreats nor missions could be preached. Seminarians could not be formed and educated. Religious life was illegal. One could not organize monasteries. Even listening to foreign religious programs was forbidden. Anyone caught doing any of these religious acts could be arrested and imprisoned. No longer did the Soviets have to prove anti-soviet propaganda to arrest a person. To incarcerate someone, it would be enough to prove that they were involved in Ukrainian Greek Catholic activity.

Thousands of priests, religious and faithful had been arrested for their religious activities or their association with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Those who remained and those who had returned from imprisonment were afraid to do anything religious for fear of being arrested.  When Fr. Vasyl returned from his imprisonment, according to Bishop Julian, “he was a very energetic man. He was energetic and was able to inspire others. Even though he was not the bishop, he gathered all priests to his place and organized them for their religious work.”[14]  Fr. Vasyl’s own apartment became the center of religious activity. This was even more evident after he was consecrated a bishop. His apartment was established as his chancery and cathedral. Fr. Vasyl began to organize a secret church. He designated trusted homes in which the sacraments, especially the Eucharist could be celebrated. Often they would gather in the evenings, late nights and early mornings in private homes to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, conduct baptisms and marriages.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is very rich in rituals, music, religious art, icons, vestments, religious space, including the iconostasis. It has many prescripts regarding the religious services – where to stand, who does what part, how to sing, what ritual needed to be performed. On the surface all of these seemed to be taken away by the Soviets and forbidden. However, the experience of the prisons taught priests, like Fr. Vasyl, what is essential in celebrating the Holy Mysteries.

Under these extraordinary circumstances, ordinary tables now became altars. Vestments were minimal. Perhaps an epithrahil, (the priest’s stole), was the only vestment. A small wine glass made of glass or metal was used for the chalice, and a teacup saucer for a discos. The objects used for the Divine Liturgy, including the altar linens, chalice coverings and any vestments, were all kept separately in secret compartments and used only for this purpose. Even after 30 years, religious sisters and laity, in whose homes these Liturgies were celebrated, kept these objects in a special reserved place. The vessels were often hidden under floor boards, behind the ceramics of an oven (peech), or in a dresser or china cabinet. During a police search of the house, most of the objects, except for vestments, could be passed off as objects for ordinary use and not religious objects. These searches were done regularly and continued until the late 1980’s.

Fr. Vasyl’s own apartment was also converted into a chapel.  A cabinet became his altar and an ordinary wooden ‘jewelry’ box his tabernacle for the Holy Eucharist. A plastic flowered lamp served as an “eternal flame”. On the altar were the altar linens. The liturgical books (if any, since many were confiscated) and sacred vessels, which were always in a diminutive size, were kept in the drawer of the cabinet, or hidden under floor boards. Over the altar was an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help. This latter icon was particularly precious because it had hung in the Redemptorist Minor Seminary in Zboisk. During the Second World War, a soldier shot at it with his revolver several times piercing it. This icon symbolized that the Mother of God also suffered with her people. The altar area was covered by a curtain to emphasize the sacred space and that it would not be quickly seen by an unwelcome visitor.

Organizing a Divine Liturgy in people’s homes was also very dangerous. These Liturgies were usually celebrated late at night. They had to be secretive. Only those people who were trusted were invited. Children, in particular, were often not told for fear that they would tell someone else. If the home did not have the sacred vessels, then Fr. Vasyl would have someone else, often a religious sister, carry the package. If she was caught, then she would plead ignorance as to the contents of the package. Sister Modesta Senyk described being caught one day as she carried the chalice, books and vestments for Fr. Vasyl.[15] Someone had come to the home when the Liturgy was being celebrated unannounced. This person left early. They suspected that this person had told the authorities about the service. By the time the authorities arrived, the service was over and people, including Fr. Vasyl had escaped. However, Sr. Modesta, who was carrying the package, was caught and interrogated all night. She was able to deflect all the questions so that neither Fr. Vasyl nor she nor the people of the house in which the Liturgy was celebrated were arrested.

Fr. Vasyl, being a Redemptorist, desired to give missions or at least retreats. Missions would be impossible to give since they were so public, but retreats could easily be given in homes. His first retreat was given to a group of women in Lviv in August 1955 in Julia Tverdohlib’s apartment. She gathered a number of women and they had a “weekend” retreat – Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday. Some of these women would become the future vocations for various monastic orders in the underground church. This would be the first of many such retreats, given to laity, sisters and priests. The retreat conferences became a major way through which he formed the church, establishing and deepening the faith within this atheistic, hostile environment.

Fr. Vasyl was responsible for the renewal of some of the religious orders in the underground church. The religious monasteries for sisters had all been confiscated and closed in the late 1940’s. Individual sisters were scattered throughout the city. Fr. Vasyl was particularly close to the Basilian Sisters. His aunt, Sister Monica Polanska, [16]  his mother’s sister, had been the superior of the Basilians before the Soviet liquidation of the institution.  Fr. Vasyl sought out the sisters that were in Lviv and its surrounding villages, Rudno, Zymna Voda and others. He began holding regular retreats and days of renewal for these sisters. He invited young girls to come and join them. “He started to centralize our sisters. He began to accept new vocations… Before the sisters were scattered and lived the monastic rule as they could. He gathered us together.” [17]

Throughout the years, Fr. Vasyl purchased ten homes for the Basilian sisters in Lviv, Zymna Voda, Rudno, Ternopil and other places.[18] Two to four sisters would live in these homes. Often the sisters had secular work. While at home, they lived a strict monastic routine. However, not all were able to live in these homes so they kept the monastic rule as well as they could in their own homes. They would gather in one of the homes for retreats and days of renewal given by Fr. Vasyl. He gave these retreats every two weeks or at least once a month. While confessing a young girl, if Fr. Vasyl felt that she had a vocation to the monastic life, he would invite her to come to one of these retreats. At the end of the weekend retreat, the young candidate would make her first commitment and begin to live the monastic life, first at home and later as circumstances allowed, she would come to live in one of these homes. Sister Iryna Korduba from Ternopil, a medical nurse, was assigned to keep a record of those who joined the Basilian Order. Fr. Vasyl brought 103 sisters into the underground Basilian Sisters Order.[19] In this way the religious order not only survived the time of religious persecution of the Soviets, but even grew and flourished.

The spirit of these sisters was filled with great fervor and courage. They were women of great faith and prayer. Sister Claudia Velhosh, related that on one occasion while a retreat was happening in one of these homes in Zymna Voda, one of the sisters saw the police coming down the street. The home was filled with sisters and candidates. The new habits were laid out for those who were joining the Order that day. Fr. Vasyl was with them and asked them to pray for protection. One of the sisters grabbed a bowl of chicken feed and ran outside to feed the chickens. She and the chickens were making a great racket. As the police arrived at the gate, the sister’s fast talk and energetic movements caught the police off guard. She told them that she was alone in the yard and house. If they came any closer, she would cry out to the neighbors. The police became confused and left. The sister returned to the house and the religious ceremony continued. [20]

Another incident Sr. Iryna Korduba related, reveals the level of faith and prayer that existed in this underground Christian community. One Christmas Eve in 1958, in Ternopil, Fr. Vasyl came to spend Christmas Eve with the sisters and his mother Anna, (Sr. Emilia), who entered the Basilian Order through Fr. Vasyl’s assistance in 1956. Approximately 12 people, consisting of sisters and laity, were in the house/monastery for Christmas Eve supper. After the meal, as they waited for midnight in order to begin the Christmas Divine Liturgy, the KGB came to the door. Those inside feared their immanent arrest and began to hide. The KGB knocked insistently, but the sisters refused to open the door. Instead the door was barred and the lights were turned off. The police continued knocking, shouting threats and waiting. Inside, Fr. Vasyl had ordered all those present to pray intensely. This stand-off lasted several hours. Finally, Fr. Vasyl took the cross that he was holding, came to the door, said a prayer for protection,  and made the sign of the cross over the door. Immediately, the KGB left. After making sure they were gone, the Christmas Midnight Liturgy was celebrated and after the Liturgy all those inside went to their respective homes. [21] Moments of such persecutions were common for the sisters and Fr. Vasyl.

During the first few years in Lviv, after returning from Vorkuta, Fr. Vasyl had the assistance of Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky, a fellow Redemptorist. In 1956, Bishop Nicholas returned to Lviv after eleven years of imprisonment. His health was ruined. He lived on 7 Verchirnya Street in Lviv, where he spent most of his days in prayer. He was the senior bishop and acting head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. The head of the church, Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, was still in prison. However, according to Bishop Julian Voronowsky, Bishop Charnetsky was not instrumental in organizing the secret pastoral activity of the church. He did ordain some priests, but he was afraid that if the police questioned him, he would not be able to hide this fact. When asked to ordain Velychkovsky to the episcopacy in 1959, he was frightened and unable to do so. He relied on God to provide someone to ordain him.[22]  In fact, it was Fr. Vasyl to whom the priests and sisters came for direction. Fr. Vasyl, in turn, himself would frequently visit Bishop Nicholas for advice and counsel. They had lived and worked together in Volyn for seven years and were very close.

After Bishop Charnetsky’s death, [23] Fr. Vasyl’s role of leadership became even more pronounced. Some of the young Basilian Sisters, among whom were Sr. Justyna (Julia) Trevdohilb, Sr. Anna Shewchuk, Sr. Anhelina Chayka, Sr. Innocentia Sytko, and others, became his close co-workers.  Sr. Anna who was his cook, became his close confidant and helped him in organizing the ministry. Sr. Innocentia became his secretary, coming daily to his apartment. They were his messengers; bringing news to Fr. Vasyl concerning the need for baptisms, funerals, and Liturgies. He, in turn, would assign priests to fulfill these works. Sr. Anhelina was very small in stature and could easily be lost in a crowd. The police would have a hard time following her. Because of her ability to elude the police, she was often assigned to take messages, vestments, holy cards, church utensils to people’s homes. Sr. Justyna lived only ten minutes away from Fr. Vasyl’s apartment and would visit him often. She was a seamstress and sewed many of the vestments used by Fr. Vasyl and other priests. Later, she also made antimensions[24] for him after he became a bishop. She kept in her apartment many holy pictures, which Fr. Vasyl produced.

These holy cards could not be reproduced by ordinary means. Vasyl Manko, the brother of Bro. Irenee, was a photographer and had a darkroom. He would photograph holy cards and then reproduce them on photo paper. The process was slow but effective. Similar methods were used to reproduce small prayer booklets, such as “The Way of the Cross”. The pictures were then bound together into a rather thick booklet. The reproduction of such objects was illegal in the eyes of the government and could be the cause for arrest. Fr. Vasyl had made many such booklets. When the police raided Sr. Justyna’s apartment in 1963, they confiscated many these religious objects. She was arrested and received a six month sentence. Throughout the interrogations, she was able to remain faithful and not name Fr. Vasyl as the source of these religious items.

Even before becoming a Bishop, Fr. Vasyl began to accept the “apostate” priests. “When Velychkovsky came, he agreed to accept those former catholic priests who signed with the Russian Orthodox Church. They first had to confess the symbol of faith and to receive a penance for their action.[25]

Some were asked to remain in the parish where they were already celebrating, with the stipulation that they would not concelebrate with “non-united” priests.” [26] Fr. Vasyl was also responsible for having men ordained to the priesthood. He vouched for their readiness for ordination, inviting Bishop Ivan Sleziuk[27] from Ivano-Frankivsk to ordain them. Unfortunately, Bishop Sleziuk was arrested in 1962. This left an episcopal vacuum in the underground church.

There were a few underground secret bishops, but they were either in prison or in exile. The Vatican did an investigation to search for a worthy candidate for the episcopacy and appointed Fr. Vasyl Velychkovsky in 1959.[28] Unfortunately, there were no bishops available in Ukraine who could consecrate him to the episcopacy. In October, 1962, Pope John XXIII called together all the Catholic bishops of the world for the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican was aware that Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was at that time imprisoned in Soviet laager camps. Pope John XXIII petitioned the Soviet Union to have Metropolitan Josyf released to enable him to attend the Council. President John Kennedy also added his voice to this petition. With all this pressure, the Soviets negotiated the release of Metropolitan Josyf. While he is in Moscow awaiting for an emissary to arrive from the Vatican to escort him to Rome, he wrote a letter[29] to Lviv, asking Fr. Vasyl to come immediately to Hotel Moskva, room 624, because he has need of him. Upon receiving this news, Fr. Vasyl told his cook, Sister Mykolaya,[30] that he had to go to Moscow. When he arrived at the hotel, Metropolitan Josyf was already making his final plans for his trip to Rome. When he saw Fr. Vasyl at the door, Metropolitan Josyf asked those in the room to leave, because he wanted to be with his ‘family’ alone. As soon as everyone left, Metropolitan Josyf asked Fr. Vasyl to kneel down and the rite of Episcopal consecration began. The details of this event were related by Bishop Vasyl to Father Michael Hrynchyshyn, [31] the Provincial of the Redemptorists in Canada, and to a Redemptorist confrere, Fr. Joseph Denischuk.  Even before the abbreviated ritual was concluded, the authorities were already knocking at the door to take Metropolitan Josyf to the train station for his trip to Rome. The ordination rite was concluded. Metropolitan passed on his wooden walking stick, symbolizing the Episcopal staff, to Bishop Vasyl. In this way he passed on the authority to Bishop Vasyl to govern the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, making him the “acting head” of the Church. The door opened and Metropolitan Josyf was taken away. The newly consecrated bishop returned to Lviv with this new responsibility of governing this catacomb church. This event took place February 4, 1963.

His Episcopal consecration was kept a secret. Only a chosen few knew about it. Bishop Vasyl returned to his apartment in Lviv, which now became his chancery and his cathedral. Daily he received priests daily in his apartment, coordinating the various ministries – baptisms, marriages, Divine Liturgies, funerals and the like. Often there would be four or five priests at a time in his apartment/chancery. They were treated first to a meal if necessary. Fr. Ivan Dankiw, C.Ss.R. shared that the first question asked always was: “Have you eaten today?”[32]  It was a close-knit and very personal system. It was impossible to have any general meetings of clergy – “soborchyky”. The only way to govern the church was personally with those trustworthy.

He continued his work with the sisters, especially the Basilian Order, but also with the Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul, the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate and the Sisters of St. Joseph. He also organized a group of laity, calling them the “Third Order”. This “Order” gathered regularly for prayer and were often the eyes and ears of the church with regards to the activities of the police and the needs of the faithful. This group, started by Bishop Vasyl, continued under the spiritual chaplaincy of Fr. Myhaylo Vynytsky,[33] and remained a force of evangelization in the church until its freedom in 1991.

Secret seminaries were organized in Lviv and Ternopil. The students were tutored by other priests, often one by one or in a small group of two or three. Since it was impossible to obtain any text books for philosophy and theology, the seminarians would copy by hand entire books. This was very time consuming and thus these hand written books became very precious. Because of the danger of possible house searches, these text books were hidden in plastic bags and buried in gardens. A freshly dug patch in a garden would not be suspected by the police. Often the seminarians did not know each other. Their identity was kept secret so that they would escape being arrested. Their classes were conducted in the evenings or on days when they were free from their jobs. Each seminarian and priest was required to have some employment.  The seminarians were secretly ordained in ordinary homes. Even family members rarely knew about it or attended the ordination. The bishop alone was aware of all the priests and who it was who could assist him in any particular ministry. It is unknown how many priests were ordained by Bishop Vasyl. Priests were essential for the sacramental life of the church. As Bishop Voronowsky stated in his interview: “When Fr. Vasyl became a bishop, then he himself began to ordain priests. Even in our house, he ordained our Father Archmandrite Nykaphor Denegato to the episcopacy in 1968.”[34]

Although the danger of being a priest was great, yet at the same time the faith was very alive, lived with joy and hope. Sr. Muza Solomon described one such day in the life of Fr. Vasyl. Sr. Muza, a Basilian sister, was a close co-worker with Bishop Vasyl. It was arranged that three Lithuanian [35] seminarians were to come to Lviv to her house, where Bishop Vasyl would ordain them to the priesthood. In the afternoon, Bishop Vasyl sent a message to Sister Muza that he would be late, because the police had summoned him that day to come for an interrogation. He asked her to tell the men to wait.  The interrogation took several hours in which the police questioned him about his activities as a priest. Bishop Vasyl was able to deflect all their questions and revealed nothing about the state of the church. After this was completed, he gave a spiritual conference to sisters in another home. Only then did Bishop Vasyl arrive at Sr. Muza’s about 10:30 in the evening. She relates that in candle light and in a hushed voice, the bishop celebrated the Divine Liturgy and ordained the three Lithuanians. They had to do this quietly and by candlelight because a KGB officer lived next door. She recalled, with tears in her eyes, the Christian joy she experienced in these austere circumstances – no choirs, no elaborate rituals or vestments, no cathedrals filled with icons – but a profound sense of the presence of God and of His grace. [36]

In order to ensure that the catacomb church continue, if and when he would be arrested, Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky consecrated a fellow Redemptorist priest, Fr. Volodymyr Sterniuk, to the episcopacy on July 2, 1964. Bishop Volodymyr’s identity was kept secret and he was not to function as a bishop. He would only do so, if Bishop Vasyl was arrested or exiled. Bishop Volodymyr was ordained with the right of succession. This in fact took place when Bishop Vasyl was exiled from Ukraine in 1972 after his second arrest and imprisonment. Bishop Volodymyr led the catacomb church from the underground into a legalized church after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The consecration of Bishop Volodymyr was perhaps the most important act of Bishop Vasyl’s legacy. This historical event ensured that the underground church would survive this time of persecution. Bishop Julian stated: “In my opinion, Bishop Vasyl’s great contribution to the church was his ability to provide for the future of the church.”[37] At the time of Bishop Vasyl’s consecration and subsequently Bishop Volodymyr’s consecration there were no other bishops in Ukraine. Those who were still living were in prison or exile.[38]

In 1966, under Khrushchev’s new policies, religious persecution seemed to be more relaxed and some believed in the possibility of the legalization of the Church. This prompted Bishop Vasyl to take a course of action attempting to bring some freedom for the Church.   At the same time in his protest to Moscow, he took this opportunity to defend himself for his unlawful arrest and incarceration. Sr. Onufria Maik, a Sister Servant whose brother was a Redemptorist, heard from her brother that “Bishop Vasyl gathered signatures from Ukrainian Catholics and personally went to Moscow to deliver this petition. He travelled to the government ministry … requesting that they return at least one church to the Ukrainian Catholics in Lviv.” [39]  Vasyl Manko also shared details of this trip to Moscow. “Bishop Vasyl arrived in Moscow and went to the General Procurator … dressed in a military overcoat… with a walking stick in his hands… When he approached the offices, instead of being stopped and questioned, the guards saluted him and opened the doors for him. The same happened all the way until he found himself surprisingly before the head of the department.”[40] However, his petition for relaxed norms for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church fell on deaf ears.

In the spring of 1967, Bishop Vasyl was given permission by the government to travel to Zagreb, Yugoslavia to visit his sister Vera Nikolic, who was ill. He was there from April 15 to May 8, during which time he wrote an autobiography[41]. Knowning that Bishop Vasyl was in Zagreb, Cardinal[42] Josyf asked Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk together with Archbishop Gabriel Bukatko and Bishop Joachim Segedi to go to Zagreb and conditionally consecrate Bishop Vasyl.  It is said that Cardinal Josyf wanted to make sure that there was proper succession, in case there was any doubt about his secret consecration in a Moscow hotel room. Secretly Metropolitan Hermaniuk traveled with a Basilian priest and some sisters to Zagreb. The conditional consecration took place in the seminary chapel on May 3, 1967. [43] When Bishop Vasyl returned to Ukraine, he shared with Bishop Volodymyr Sterniuk that his consecration had been conditionally fulfilled. Bishop Sterniuk immediately knelt down and asked for the same conditional fulfillment.[44]

Bishop Vasyl’s brief stay in Zagreb opened the opportunity to share letters and news about the underground church and to receive communication from Rome. Bishop Vasyl wrote to the Redemptorist Superior General detailing the state of the Redemptorists and the Church. The Redemptorists in Ukraine had thirty-four priests, thirteen brothers, seven novices, two bishops and seven homes.[45] Following his meeting with Bishop Vasyl, Metropolitan Maxim wrote to the Vatican regarding the state of the church.[46] Bishop Vasyl also received a letter from the Basilian Protoarchmandrite, Atanasij Velykyj, in Rome, clarifying the position and authority of the Basilian fathers in Ukraine.[47] The situation between the Basilian fathers in Ukraine and Bishop Vasyl at times was tense. This letter attempted to clarify any misunderstandings.

Shortly after returning to Ukraine, Bishop Vasyl received two more documents. Both of them came from Cardinal Josyf Slipyj. They were written in point form in response to questions posed by Bishop Vasyl. One of the documents[48]  was signed with a secret mark, a monogram, identified by Bishop Hrynchyshyn as belonging to Cardinal Josyf. The other document[49] was typed on a piece of cloth with no signature. From its contents, it is evident that it came from Cardinal Josyf. As the original letters from Bishop Vasyl have not yet been found, one can only guess what questions are being answered.

The document written on paper gave general directives and policies of church discipline: questions concerning validity of marriages; taking of promises before communists; membership in communist organizations; benefit of listening to Vatican Radio; usage of the word “orthodox” in the Liturgy; appointments of superiors of monasteries; obtaining and keeping lists; and questions concerning stipends. The Church needed direction in the new circumstances it found itself. There were no marriage tribunals, nor any desire to keep records which could be confiscated and used by the police to make arrests. The document typed on cloth is much more personal and directed to Bishop Vasyl, giving him guidelines how to conduct himself as a bishop. The statements were filled with caution: about making any statements; believing any gossip; whom he should receive in audience; whom he should ordain; and even to be aware of certain priests who could be spies. [50]

Bishop Vasyl, as the head of the underground Church, did hold meetings to help organize the activities of the church. Orest Vynytsky, whose brother was Fr. Myhaylo, a Redemptorist priest, shared with us that a meeting of church leaders took place in his house in 1967, after Bishop Vasyl’s trip to Zagreb.  Vynytsky was asked if he would “allow several priests to come and have a meeting in [his] house? … Many priests came, older ones… many Basilians… when Bishop Velychkovsky arrived they all went up to the second floor to a meeting room.” [51] He did not recognize all those attending, but he knew that it was a highly secret and important meeting. The meeting was arranged by and called by Bishop Velychkovsky. Among those present were: Father Peter Horodetsky, Bishop Josaphat Fedoryk, Basilian priests and many others – approximately eleven people. The meeting was secret, therefore, there is little information about it.

Vynytsky overheard a heated discussion about some documents and concerning the use of the word “orthodox”. One of the burning topics of the day in Ukraine centered around the use of the word “orthodox” in prayers, in particular, the prayer of the Great Entrance of the Divine Liturgy. There were those who refused to use this word, because the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate was the one persecuting Ukrainian Catholics and had confiscated many of their churches. Others, along with Bishop Vasyl, insisted that the word be used because: it corresponded to the ancient usage of the word in the Liturgy; it reflected the spirit of Vatican II; and most importantly, that it was the wish of the Cardinal Josyf Slipyj. Bishop Vasyl had the documents from Cardinal Slipyj to support his arguments.

Even though it was illegal to print or publish religious material, Bishop Vasyl courageously wrote a book to inspire and encourage the faith of the people. I966 marked a hundred years since the ancient icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was given to the Redemptorist Congregation. The Vatican asked them to spread her devotion throughout the world. Since then, this icon has become one of the most known icons throughout the catholic world. Bishop Vasyl, in thanksgiving to the Mother of God for her protection, wrote a book “The History of the Miraculous Icon of our Mother of God of Perpetual Help.”[52] This was a spiritual reading book on the history of the icon interspersed with inspiring stories. This book was hand written by Bishop Vasyl, then typed using carbon paper. In this manner, copies were made and then bound into books. This book became one of the main reasons for his second arrest as it was illegal to print religious books. Also within this book there were some examples of Soviet persecutions.

In 1968, a new wave of persecutions began. The anniversary of Lenin’s 100th birthday in 1970  was approaching and the Soviet government was frustrated that the Uniate Church (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) still existed in a catacomb manner.  Bishop Vasyl feared imminent arrest, so he consecrated more bishops: Petro Kozak, Ivan Chorniak, Josyf Hirniak, and Nykanor Denega.[53] They were to remain secret and not function unless absolutely necessary, that is, if and when those functioning were arrested.

Many priests were interrogated and arrested. The KGB did a search of Bishop Vasyl’s apartment on October 6, 1968. “The police destroyed the prayer room, and confiscated religious books and church vestments.” [54] They returned again in January and again ransacked his room to find evidence for his arrest.  On January 27, 1969, according to Fr. Bohdan Smuk[55], “The bishop was arrested. He was caught in Olha’s house where he kept his episcopal vestments and regalia.”[56]   Sr. Muza happened to walk into her co-worker Olha’s home the moment of his arrest. She said: “I came to visit her. Strangers opened the doors for me. I wondered what was happening. Then, I realized that it was a house search….  I had come to pass on to Bishop Vasyl a letter requesting baptisms and a marriage. We just looked at each other. As he was being taken from the room, with his hands cuffed behind his back, he blessed me for the last time.”[57]

He was taken to a prison in Lviv on Horodetska Street. He remained in prison for eight months before his trial. During these eight months, he was interrogated numerous times in order to make a solid case against him. Many other ‘witnesses’ were also interrogated in order to prove his guilt. Even children were brought in to say that they received the sacraments from Bishop Vasyl.[58]  While in prison, his health was very poor and in fact, at one point, he was declared clinically dead. This news spread to the “free world”.  However, as the guards were taking him to the morgue, they felt some warmth under his armpits. They let him lie on the table and to their surprise, he regained consciousness and got up. “He was pronounced clinically dead …It was announced throughout Lviv that he had died, but later he revived and the police confirmed that he was alive.”[59]

His trial took place in Lviv on September 23, 1969. The general accusation from the court was “since he was an adherent of the Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church, he systematically and knowingly spread verbally and in written form false information about the Soviet communist government.” [60] The particular accusations were the following: writing a religious book “The History of the Miraculous Icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help”; listening to religious programs on Vatican radio; organizing and supervising theological courses in Ternopil for the formation of future priests; catechizing a minor in the teachings of the faith; reproducing and disseminating religious pictures and antimensions; and being accused of posing as a bishop.[61]

He was sentenced under the “Article 187-1 CC USSR … and by Article 138-2 CC USSR to three years of incarceration…. in a hard-labor correctional institution of strict regime.”[62]  This sentence was served in Komunarsk, in the Luhansk region. This prison was a hospital for the psychologically ill. Sr. Anna Shewchuk and Vera Nikolic made appeals for Bishop Vasyl’s release, but to no avail. He was quite ill in prison. His feet became so swollen that he was unable to walk. Just as he was giving up all hope, a new doctor arrived who had mercy on him and admitted him for treatment. He received visits from Sr. Anna, on a regular basis every few months. From her visits, she saw his physical and mental deterioration. After he completed his three year sentence, he was released to Kyiv on January 27, 1972. Sr. Anna and Sr. Justyna visited him is Kyiv. Sr. Justyna described the meeting: “We went [to Kyiv]. Anna [Shewchuk] prepared some things to pass on to him. She took some clothing.… When I looked at him, he wasn’t a person but only a skeleton. I was so disturbed that I could not talk. We spoke a bit. He said that they tortured him very much for the book he wrote.”[63]

Bishop Vasyl was exiled from Ukraine. He was sent to visit his sister Vera in Zagreb, but realized that he had no return documents. After two weeks in Zagreb, on February 22, 1972, he arrived in Rome. He visited with Cardinal Josyf Slipyj and had an audience with Pope Paul VI. Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, a Redemptorist archbishop from Canada, invited him to come to Winnipeg. Bishop Vasyl also had a first cousin, Maria Matwychuk, who lived in Winnipeg. He arrived on June 15, 1972. While in Canada, he visited all the Canadian eparchies, giving the annual priests’ retreats. He also travelled to Newark, Philadelphia and other centers in the United States. His health began to fail him.

While in Canada, the amount of damage and destruction that was done to Bishop Vasyl in prison became evident. Bishop Michael Wiwchar, who lived with Bishop Vasyl for a time, witnessed that during his last imprisonment, he was tortured by the administration of harmful chemicals. These chemicals caused heart disease and the destruction of the nervous system. He was also tortured by the use of electricity.[64]  Maria Matwychuk shared the same information in an interview. [65] Doctors in Winnipeg, who cared for Bishop Vasyl were shocked at the evidence of torture on his body. On June 30, 1973, Bishop Vasyl succumbed to his tortures. He was buried in a Catholic Cemetery of All Saints near Winnipeg.

He was beatified on June 27, 2001 in Lviv by Pope John Paul II. A year later, September 22, 2002, his holy body was transferred from the cemetery to a Shrine built in St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. Upon exhumation, it was found that his body remained as it had been buried- fully intact. The Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky Shrine has since become a place of pilgrimage for thousands. The Museum and Archives contain many of his precious artifacts and documents.

The importance of Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic underground Church is evident. His contribution was both moral and structural. It is through his enthusiasm, courage and leadership that the faithful continued to secretly and devotedly practice their faith in the midst of adverse and perilous circumstances. He formed the religious sisters through his recruitment and teachings. He organized them into small house communities. They, in turn, became the catechists who formed the laity in the church. He educated new candidates for the priesthood and ensured their ordinations. He received the “apostate” priests back into the Church, thus increasing the number of clergy who could secretly, if not overtly, serve the people. Most importantly, he did not refuse to be consecrated a bishop in a Moscow Hotel room, and thus he ensured the continuance and survival of the underground Church. As a bishop, he ordained many priests and more significantly he consecrated other bishops, in particular, Bishop Volodymyr Sterniuk. His choice of Bishop Volodymyr was very providential. Bishop Volodymyr was able to continue his work as a bishop clandestinely until the late 1980’s without being arrested. He, along with others, became instrumental in gaining the legalization of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 1990.

Blessed Vasyl was a great man and influenced the future of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Sr. Modesta said this beautifully in her interview: “I saw before me a person of great intelligence, culture, profound faith, and a selfless sacrificial laborer for the salvation of human souls. In our conversations, I sensed a great wisdom and goodness. He lived in this way and he encouraged others – priests and us sisters, to reach for these same virtues. … I experienced his fatherly protection and sincere love, filled with self-sacrifice for the service of God’s people. Now, I understand that, if Father Vasyl Velychkvosky … had not gone to Moscow to meet his Beatitude Josyf, there would not have been an underground church. There would have been no monasteries and I would not have been a nun. …. God gave me three years to reap from Bishop Vasyl’s spiritual conferences, but I still breathe their contents today.”[66] Bishop Vasyl’s influence over the spirit and the courage of the underground church is still evident in the life of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of today.

 

 

Reference Sources

BVV, Blessed Vasyl Veleychkovsky Shrine & Museum Archives. 250 Jefferson Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Bachtalowsky, C.SS.R. Stephen. 1991. Vasyl’ Vsevold Velychkovsky Redemptorist Bishop-Confessor of the Faith. Yorkton, SK, Canada: Redeemer’s Voice Press.

  1. До Світла Воскресіння крізь терни катакомб – Підпільна діяльність та легвлізація Української Греко-Католи цької Церкви. Lviv, Ukraine: Institute of Church History Ukrainian Catholic University.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine June 23-27, 2001. On this occasion he had four beatifications for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: Blessed Josaphata Hordashevska; Blessed Priest  Martyr Emilian Kovch; Blessed Bishop & Martyr Theodore Romzha; and Blessed Nicholas Charnetsky and 24 Companion Martyrs. Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky was among the Companion Martyrs.

[2] Blessed Vasyl Veleychkovsky Shrine & Museum Archives, Font 2, Section III, Subsection C, Tape 12 (BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12) – interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[3] Father Nicholas Charnetsky, a Redemptorist, was sent by Metropolitan Andrey Shyptytsky to worked with the new immigrants from Halychyna and with the Orthodox faithful who were petitioning the Metropolitan for spiritual help. Charnetsky was consecrated a bishop in 1931. He was arrested April 11, 1946, imprisoned for 11 years and died April 2, 1959. On June 27, 2001, he was beatified as a martyr by Pope John Paul II.

[4] Bachtalowsky, C.SS.R. Stephen. 1991. Vasyl’ Vsevold Velychkovsky Redemptorist Bishop-Confessor of the Faith. Yorkton, SK, Canada: Redeemer’s Voice Press. pg. 83

[5] BVV, f.2, I, A, vol. 1,  pg. 312 – from the KGB documents concerning the 1st Arrest

[6] BVV, f.2, I, A, vol 1, pg. 221-222 – from the KGB documents concerning the 1st Arrest

[7] Ibid. vol. 1,  pg. 223

[8] Bachtalowsky, Stephen. 1991. pg. 86

[9] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 3 – interview with Sr. Innocentia Sytko, 2004

[10] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 9 – interview with Boris Mirus, 2004

[11] Ibid

[12] ibid

[13] BVV, f.1, II, A, doc 2 – the protest letter is found in BVV

[14] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12 – interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[15]  BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 7 – interview with Sr. Modesta Senyk, 2004

[16] Sister Monica, was instrumental in Blessed Vasyl’s vocation, introducing him to the Redemptorist Congregation. She was also arrested by the Soviets in 1949 and died in prison in 1951.

[17] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 1 –  interview with Sr. Serafyma Salo, 2004

[18] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 3 – interview with Sr. Innocentia, 2004

[19] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 5 – interview with Sr. Iryna Korduba ,2005

[20] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 4 – interview with Sr. Claudia Velhosh, 2004

[21] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 5 – interview with Sr. Iryna Korduba, 2005

[22] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12 – interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[23] When Bishop Charnetsky was released from the hospital in late March 1959, he was taken to Fr. Vasyl’s apartment. It was there that he died on April 2, 1959. His body was then secretly transferred to his own home on Vechernia Street. Only there was his death announced, so as not to draw attention to the fact that Fr. Vasyl’s apartment was already a center of church activity.

[24] An antimension is a cloth with the image of the burial of Jesus upon it. Into it is sewn a holy relic. Upon this cloth, which is blessed by the bishop, the priests celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

[25] BVV, f.1, III, D, doc 1 – a prayer of absolution for Apsotate priests, handwritten by Bishop Velychkovsky

[26] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12 –  interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[27] Bishop Ivan Sleziuk was secretly consecrated a bishop in 1945 by Bishop Hryhorij Khomyshyn of Ivano Frankivsk. He led the Eparchy of Ivano Frankivsk from 1957 to 1973 until he died a martyr’s death. He was beatified with Blessed Vasyl on June 27, 2001.

[28] Bachtalowsky, Stephen. 1991. pg. 137 – sermon by Bishop Volodymyr Malanchuk, C.Ss.R.

[29] BVV, f.2, V, A, doc 3 – letter written by Metropolitan Josyf on January 27, 1963

[30] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 10 – interview with Sister Mykolaya Pandrak, 2004

[31] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 13 – interview with Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn, C.Ss.R., 2004

[32] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 10 – interview with Fr. Ivan Dankiw, 2004

[33] Fr. Myhaylo Vynytsky, C.SsR., a Redemptorist priest, was very active in the underground Church. He was arrested and imprisoned four times, but would not discontinue his pastoral work. He died after the Church was freed in 1996.

[34] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12 – interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[35] There was a close connection between the Lithuanian church and the underground Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. There were monthly trips between the two. The Lithuanians were able to print catechisms which were then smuggled into Ukraine. They also provided the printing of antimensions for use in the Divine Liturgy.

[36] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 3 – interview with Sr. Muza Solomon, 2004

[37] ibid

[38] Bishop Ivan Sleziuk, consecrated secretly by Bishop Hryhorij Khomyshyn of Ivano Frankivskin 1945, was imprisoned in 1962. Upon his release in 1967, he consecrated a Basilian, Father Sofron Demeterko in 1968 to the episcopacy. Bishop Demeterko served the church in Ivano Frankivsk, while Bishop Sterniuk served the Church in Lviv and Ternopil. Bishop Alexander Khira, ordained secretly by Bishop Teodor Romdza of Zacarpathia in 1945, was in exile in Karaganda. While there, he consecrated Father Josaphat Fedoryk to the episcopacy in 1964, who himself lived in Kyrgyzstan. In time he returned to Ukraine.

[39] BVV, f.2, III, E, tape 5 – interview with Sr. Onufria Maik, 2008

[40] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 8 – interview with Vasyl Manko, 2004

[41]  Bachtalowsky, S, 1991. Pg 46-94. This autobiography covers his life from birth until 1956.

[42] Metropolitan Josyf Slipyj was name Major Archbispoh in 1963 and Cardinal in 1965.

[43] BVV, f.2, V, B, doc 20 – a testimonial of Episcopal consecration document, Zagreb May 3, 1967

[44] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 12 – interview with Bishop Julian Voronowsky, 2005

[45] BVV, f.1, I, A, doc 21 – letter of Velychkovsky to Redemptorist Superior General, May 3, 1967

[46] BVV, f.2, V, B, doc 21 – letter of Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk to the Cardinal Samore, July 19,1967

[47] BVV, f.2, V, A, doc 4 – letter of the Protoarchmandrite A. Velykyj to Velychkovsky, May 3, 1967

[48] BVV, f.2, V, A, doc 5 – letter of Major Archbishop Josyf Slipyj to Velychkovsky  circa May 1967

[49] BVV, f.2, V, A, doc 6  This was written on a cloth which was then sewn into the garment to make it easier to smuggle across the Soviet border. This letter was smuggled to Bishop Vasyl through his nephew’s wife, who brought it from Zagreb to Lviv.

[50] These two documents, together with the letter from the Basilian ProtoArchmandrite, later were hidden in a jar in a garden of the Basilian Sisters in Lviv. They were unearthed in 2004 and are now part of the Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky Shrine and Museum Archives.

[51] BVV, f.2, III, D, tape 4 – interview with Orest Vynytsky, 2007

[52] BVV, f.1, III, B, doc 1 – This book was found in a museum in Lviv for atheism as an example of anti-soviet propaganda. The original is found in Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky Shrine and Museum Archives. It is now published in both Ukrainian and English.

[53]  2012. До Світла Воскресіння крізь терни катакомб – Підпільна діяльність та легвлізація Української Греко-Католи цької Церкви. Lviv, Ukraine: Institute of Church History Ukrainian Catholic University. pg. 18

[54] Bachtalowsky, S. 1991. pg. 16

[55] Fr. Bohdan Smuk was taught theology personally by Bishop Vasyl in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Bishop Vasyl taught him for three years, 1966-1969.

[56] BVV, f.2, III, I, tape 1 –  interview with Fr. Bohdan Smuk done by his son and obtained by the Archives in 2012.

[57] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 3 – interview with Sr. Muza Solomon, 2004

[58] BVV, f. 2, III, G, tape 4 – interview with Ihor Rak who was the child interrogated, 2010

[59] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 3 – interview with Sr. Innocentia Sytko, 2004

[60] BVV, f.2, II, E,  pg. 302 – taken from the judicial commission denial of Velychkovsky’s complaint letter

[61] BVV, f.1, II, B, doc 6 – Velychkovsky’s complaint letter written on October 2, 1969

[62] BVV, f.2, II, E, pg. 301 – KGB documents of Velychkovsky’s second arrest

[63] BVV, f.2, III, C, tape 21 – interview with Sr. Justyna Tverdohlib, 2005

[64]  BVV, f.2, X, A – Documents prepared for the Vatican in the Process of Beatification. Il Servo di Dio Vasyl Velyckovskyj 1903-1973. Document  49 – testimony of Bishop Michael Wiwchar. A copy of the Process  is in Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky Shrine and Museum Archives

[65] BVV, f.2, III, B, tape 14 – interview with Maria Matwychuk, 2004

[66] BVV, f.2, IV, A, doc 20 – testimony of Sr. Modestsa Senyk

В’язень та вигнанець

В’язень та вигнанець (Ісая 53:3-4, LXX)

Д-р Андрій Томас КАНЯ, Директор духовності у Aquinas College, Маннінґ (Австралія).

Правда про «пророцтва» Морриса Веста щодо Папи східного (візантійського) обряду. Часом правда більше бентежить, аніж фікція.

Морриса Веста часто возвеличують як свого роду пророка, який імовірно передбачив вибір Кардинала Кароля Войтили на Папський престіл. Насправді ж, книга австралійського письменника  побудована на життєвих історіях людей з іншої частини Східної Европи. Коментар д-ра Андрія Кані подає докази цьому твердженню, а також висвітлює тиск, якого зазнала Католицька Церква у Східній Европі, особливо в Україні за часів Сталінського режиму.

Замість вступного слова: Декілька цитат із фільму «Черевики рибалки» за мотивами однойменної  книги Морриса Веста (сценарій 1968 року)

Лакота: Ми повинні підготувати справжню християнську революцію: праця для всіх, хліб для всіх, гідність для кожної людини.

Кардинал Леоне: Однак без насильства!

Лакота:  Пробачте, але насильство – це відповідь на ситуацію, яка стала нестерпною, хіба ж ні?

Кардинал Леоне: Справді?

Лакота: У сибірських лаграх нас морили голодом  і поводилися з нами брутально. Я крав. Я крав хліб, крихтами якого годував чоловіка, якому охоронець поламав щелепи. Рятуючи мого товариша, я бився із конвоїром, міг його вбити. Це було жахливе пережиття: я, єпископ, міг вбити людину.

Кардинал Рінальді: Отже, Ви, як єпископ, схвалили б громадські заворушення?

Лакота: Можливо, мені б довелось прийняти це як ціну за соціяльні зміни.

Кардинал Рінальді: Ви ходите по моральному канату!

Лакота: Нам усім доводиться по ньому йти – це ціна, яку ми платимо за привілей бути людиною.

Кардинал Рінальді: А що, коли б Ви дійсно вбили охоронця?

Лакота: Не знаю, не знаю, Еміненціє. Знаю, що ми живемо в брутальному світі; діти Божі віддані під нашу опіку, і якщо нам доведеться боротися – боротимемося.

Вечір, 9-го лютого 1963 року. Холодна війна сягає апогею. Джон Ф. Кеннеді – Президент США; Микита Хрущов – лідер СССР; Іван ХХІІІ – Глава Вселенської Церкви.

Альпійський експрес мчить з Північної Італії до Риму. Завіса таємничости огортає цю подорож з огляду на одного пасажира. На станції Орте потяг зупиняється, двоє високопосадових духовних входять до вагону. Це Ватиканська агентура у своєму найкращому вигляді. Таємничого мандрівника щойно випустили із совєтського лагру в Сибірі. Хрущов особисто брав участь у звільненні пасажира, якого було засуджено та ув’язнено як «ворога радянського народу». Потяг прибуває до Риму з тридцятихвилинним запізненням. З вокзалу таємничий пасажир в товаристві одного із високопоставлених духовних, який всів до вагону на станції Орте, прибуває до монастиря у Гроттаферрата. Другий урядовець їде до Ватикану, прибуваючи до місця свого призначення рівно опівночі. Тут, обабіч кімнати Святішого Отця Івана ХХІІІ, Архієпископ Лоріс Каповілла нашвидкоруч пише повідомлення і просуває його під двері палати Понтифіка. У записці говориться:

«Святіший Отче! Я повернувся опівночі. Митрополит Сліпий прибув безпечно. Він глибоко вдячний Його Святості. Він подивляв Ваші дари і сказав: «Коли б Папа Іван у своїй великодушності не причинився до цього, я б, мабуть, уже не жив»… Він створює враження мудрої людини, сильної і водночас доброї» (Hebblethwaite,    1984, с. 476) [1].

За іронією долі, саме «опікун» Папа був не тільки ініціятором скликання Другого Ватиканського собору, але й тим, хто стримав початок нарад до приїзду Кардинала Йосифа Сліпого, вживши усіх можливих політичних засобів, яких вимагала така рішучість. Як відомо, навіть Президент Кеннеді був залучений до переговорів в справі звільнення Митрополита Сліпого з 18-літнього ув’язнення. [2]

Остаточне рішення в цій справі прийняла Верховна Рада СССР 12 січня 1963 року із умовою про те, що Кардинал ніколи не повернеться в Україну.

Наступного дня, себто 10 лютого, Папа Іван посвячує наріжний камінь коледжу Ломбарді. Він звертається до присутніх такими словами: «Учора ввечері зі Східної Европи надійшла зворушлива та втішаючи благодать, за яку я покірно дякую Богові» (Hebblethwaite,    1984, с. 477). Лише ввечері того дня зустрілися врешті Святіший Отець та Митрополит.

Коридором Апостольських Палат Ватикану крокує високий, сивобородий чоловік. Його очі віддзеркалюють роки глибоко вкоріненого страждання та мук. В кінці вестибюлю він зауважує невисокого зросту постать, зодягнену в біле вбрання, і пришвидшує хід. Не зважаючи на біль, який пронизує його кінцівки, він клякає. Архієпископ Каповілла, секретар Папи Івана ХХІІІ, згодом писав:

«То Катакомбна Церква стояла навколішках перед Намісником Христа: Церква свідчення, не слів; Церква історії, не скороминущих новин. Все ще на колінах, Митрополит Сліпий промовив слова, які закарбувались в моїй пам’яті, висловивши ревну віру, нерозривну злуку з Апостольським Престолом, рішучість жити і зробити усе можливе для свого народу» (Giampaolo Mattei, LOsservatore Romano, січень 2001).

Каповілла продовжує:

«Коли Папа Іван побачив, що Сліпий пав ниць і цілував його ноги, він поспішив підняти його з колін, цитуючи фразу з Наслідування Христа: “O feliz hora quando Iesus vocat de lacrymis ad gaudium spiritus” (Щаслива година, коли Ісус кличе нас зі сліз до радости духа). Митрополит відповів цитатою з Ісаї: “Які гарні на горах ноги благовісника, що спасіння звіщає”. І додав: “Ваша Святосте, я вдячний Вам за те, що визволили мене із темниці. За мить знову промовив, цитуючи Давида: “Мій Бог послав Свого Ангола, і позамикав пащі левів, і вони не пошкодили мені”» (Giampaolo Mattei, LOsservatore Romano, січень 2001).

Після цього Папа Іван ХХІІІ веде Митрополита Сліпого у приватну папську каплицю. Тут Митрополит Сліпий передає Понтифікові мапу Совєтського Союзу із позначеннями місцезнаходжень численних ҐУЛАҐів. З цього моменту Папа Іван ХХІІІ тримає цю мапу біля свого ліжка, молячись щовечора за незчисленні невинні жертви, які перебувають в ув’язненні. Іван ХХІІІ написав на ній: «Серцю найближчі ті, які географічно найбільш віддалені; молитва спішить до тих, хто найбільше потребує зрозуміння і любови» (Hebblethwaite, 1984, с. 477).

Після смерти Митрополита Андрея Шептицького, Йосиф Сліпий став Главою Української Греко-Католицької Церкви. Його заарештовано 11 квітня 1945 року в Катедрі св. Юра у Львові та засуджено 3 червня 1946 року до восьми років каторжних робіт у совєтських ҐУЛАҐах. Згодом, коли стало відомим, що Митрополит намагався переслати пастирські листи до священиків та мирян в Україні, термін ув’язнення продовжено на наступних сім років [3]. Очевидно, ніхто із церковних ієрархів, яких, подібно як Йосифа Сліпого, було заарештовано, не дочекався 1963 року. Совєти цілковито «вичистили» УГКЦ: список усіх вбитих вказує на систематичність способу, у який комуністичний режим намагався нанести смертельний удар по осердю українського католицизму [4].

«Черевики рибака»

З часу вибору польського Кардинала Кароля Войтили, Краківського архієпископа, на Вселенський Престіл, головного героя повісти Мориса Веста «Черевики рибака», яка побачила світ 1963 року, помилково ототожнювали із особою нині бл. Івана Павла ІІ. Однак таке порівняння втрачає усю гостроту життєвої історії Верховного Архієпископа Львова, який стає керманичем Вселенської Церкви, а також дилему, яку цей вибір міг би створити в лоні Католицької Церкви.

Митрополит Кирило Лакота в дійсності ніколи не існував, принаймні як єдина особа; натомість історія Вестівського героя побудована на житті двох реальних постатей: Кардинала Йосифа Сліпого, Глави Української Греко-Католицької Церкви, та Григoрія Лакоти, єпископа-помічника Перемишльської єпархії, одного із ієрархів УГКЦ, яких страчено в совєтських тюрмах.

Як керманич Української Греко-Католицької Церкви, Кардинал Йосифа Сліпий майже дочекався падіння комунізму, відійшовши у вічність на декілька років перед проголошенням Незалежности України. На момент своєї смерти, він відслужив сорок літ як Патріярх своєї Церкви, з яких лише 6 місяців – на терені свого власного Львівського Престолу.

У своєму жалібному слові з приводу смерти Патріярха Йосифа у 1984 році, Президент США Рональд Рейґан зазначив: «Відданість Патріярха Сліпого Богові та свободі людей була непохитною навіть за умов покарання та вигнання за його переконання. Завдяки свідченню його життя, він став символом сили Всевишнього та людського духа. Ним він залишиться не лише у памяті українців, а й людей доброї волі усіх народів».

Йосиф Сліпий, людина, яка віддала своє життя збереженню та захистові найбільшої катакомбної Церкви, безперечно радів би сучасній свободі свого народу та зростаючій потужності Церкви в Україні. Хоча Патріярх ніколи не сягнув вершин Понтифікату, як його герой у повісті Морриса Веста, він сягнув вершин духовної витривалости, яка забезпечить йому місце серед святих Вселенської Церкви. Особисті спогади Блаженнішого свідчать про цю велич його духа:

«Нічне ув’язнення, таємні судилища, нескінченні допити і підглядання, моральні і фізичні знущання й упокорення, катування, морення голодом; нечестиві слідчі і судді, а перед ними я, безборонний в’язень-каторжник, „німий свідок Церкви”, що, знеможений, фізично і психічно вичерпаний, дає свідчення своїй рідній мовчазній і на смерть приреченій Церкві… І в’язень-каторжник бачив, що і його шлях „на краю землі” кінчався приреченням на смерть!

Силу на оцьому моєму хресному шляху В’язня Христа ради давала мені свідомість, що цим шляхом іде також зо мною моє духовне стадо, мій рідний Український нарід, всі владики, священики, вірні, батьки і матері, малолітні діти, жертовна молодь і безпомічні старці. Я не самотній!» (Заповіт Патріярха Йосифа, с. 3 – прим. перекладача).

Беатифікаційний процес Кардинала Йосифа Сліпого триває.

 

ПРИМІТКИ:

[1]. Міністер Джуліо Андреотті так описав приїзд до Риму Митрополита Сліпого, який прибув майже інкогніто: «Коли Ви прибули до цього міста, ми, католики Риму, привітали Вас особливою тишею. Дивен наш світ, світ, в якому кожного огортає страх перед тим, що гонитель посунеться до ще більшого зла, аніж він спричинив дотепер. Нам хотілося б вітати Вас із тією ж непогамованою радістю, з якою християни Риму вітали св. Петра».

[2]. Сліпий сказав Папі Іванові ХХІІІ, що в часі свого ув’язнення в Сибірі він служив як, католикам, так і православним, не лише як їх «єпископ», але як їхній спів-в’язень. Митрополит перебував у вагоні в’язнів, який був причеплений до потягу, котрим подорожував Росією віце-президент США Никсон 1953 року. Сліпий чудом витримав цю подорож тільки завдяки тому, що інші в’язні примостили його біля вікна. Таким чином, представник найпотужнішої світової демократії несвідомо супроводжував Митрополита до місця його наступного ув’язнення.

[3]. Див.: Пій ХІІ, Orientales Omnes – Звернення Папи до Української Католицької Церкви: «Возлюблені у Христі, ми вважаємо, що немає для нас кращого способу, аби поновити нашу батьківську настанову, аніж підсумувати її словами Апостола Павла із його послань: «Пильнуйте! Будьте непохитні у вірі своїй! Будьте мужні й міцні!» (Кор.16,13), «Слухайтесь ваших наставників і коріться» (Євр. 13,17), ваших епископів та священиків, коли вони дають Вам вказівки для Вашого спасіння та згідно з вченням Церкви. Чиніть опір усьому, що будь-яким чином шкодить Вашій вірі. Будьте готові пильно «зберігати єдність духа в союзі миру. Одне тіло, один дух, як і були ви покликані в одній надії вашого покликання» (Єф. 4,3). У кожному стражданні та труднощах пам’ятайте, «що страждання теперішнього часу нічого не варті супроти тієї слави, що має з’явитися в нас» (Рим.8,18). «Господь же вірний і він вас зміцнить, і збереже від злого» (2 Сол. 3, 3).

[4]. *Монсеньйор Петро Вергун, Апостольський Візитатор українців католиків у Німеччині та Західній Европі. Заарештований 1945 року, вивезений на Сибір, де помер 7 лютого 1957 року.

* Никита Будка, епископ-помічник Львівської архієпархії, помер на заслання в Сибірі 6 жовтня 1949 року.

* Григорій Хомищин, єпарх Станіславівський, помер в тюрмі 17 січня 1947 року.

* Миколай Чарнецький, Апостольський Візитатор на Волині, помер 2 квітня 1959 року після 12-літнього ув’язнення в Сибірі.

* Григорій Лакота, епископ-помічник Перемишльський, помер у Воркуті на Сибірі 1951 року.

* Павло Ґойдич, єпископ Пряшівський, ув’язнений 1950 року, помер в чеському концтаборі 19 липня 1960 року.

* Йосафат Коциловський, епарх Перемишльський, Саноцький та Самбірський, помер в тюрмі 21 серпня 1947 року.

* Августин Волошин, Президент Незалежної Карпато-Української Республіки 1938 року. Страчений совєтами 1945 року.

* Теодор Ромжа, епископ Мукачівський та Ужгородський, помер внаслідок дорожньо-транспортної «аварії» з совєтським військовим автом 1 листопада 1947 року.

*Іван Лятишевський, епископ-помічник Станіславівський, помер як Ісповідник Віри після десяти років совєтських тюрем 1957 року.

Про автора.

Андрій Тома Каня є Директором духовности у Aquinas College, Маннінґ (Австралія). До цього викладав у Школі Релігійної освіти при Університеті Нотр Дамм (Австралія), та в Католицькому Інституті Західної Австралії при Університеті Едіт Кован та Куртис. Окрім дописування до журналу Catholica, д-р Каня співпрацює із часописами: The London Tablet, The Journal of Religious Education, The Australasian Catholic Record, New Blackfriars, AD 2000, Church and Life (український журнал), The Record Newspaper. Він належить до Української Католицької Церкви і цікавиться питаннями екуменізму та сучасних проблем вчителів релігії.

 

Переклад з англійської: Ірини Іванкович

Ярослав Пелікан – людина Відродження ХХ віку.

Вступне слово до україномовного перекладу книги Ярослава Пелікана “Ісповідник віри між Сходом і Заходом: портрет українського кардинала Йосифа Сліпого”

Академік Леонід Рудницький

Моє знайомство з Ярославом Пеліканом я завдячую тогочасному парохові церкви Христа Царя у Філядельфії о. Мартинові Канаванові. Підготовляючи разом з проф. Мирославом Лабунькою симпозіюм «Українська Католицька Церква 1945-1975», який відбувся 19 квітня 1975 року в ЛаСаль Університеті , я звернувся до о. Канавана з проханням порекомендувати провідних іноземних науковців Церкви, які могли б зайнятися історією Української Греко-Католицької Церкви (УГКЦ) і тим самим звернути увагу наукового світу на її трагічну долю. Це був початок довголітньої співпраці між ЛаСальським університетом та Релігійним Товариством українців католиків «Свята Софія» США, яка продовжується і сьогодні, про що яскраво свідчить міжнародна наукова конференція «Катакомбна Церква в ХХ столітті», що відбулася 3 травня 2014 року з нагоди 25-ліття виходу Української Греко-Католицької Церкви з підпілля. В тих часах Україна взагалі, а УГКЦ зокрема, були мало відомі в англомовному світі і того роду конференції мали в додатку до наукового збагачення також завдання популяризувати українську справу на міжнародній арені. Причина такого стану була в тому, що ціла історіографія Східної Европи базувалася головно на працях російської, царської еміґрації, в яких Україна як окрема держава не існувала взагалі, а згодом – комуністичного наукового світу, де вона існувала тільки марґінально як одна із 15 республік Совєтського Союзу. Додатковою причиною цього стану було упередження естаблішменту західного наукового світу до еміґраційних науковців, яким закидалося брак об’єктивности.

О. Канаван відразу запропонував цілу низку науковців, а між ними – прізвище Ярослава Пелікана, яке вже тоді було широко відоме в науковому світі. Його книжки рецензувалися не лише у наукових виданнях, але й отримували широкий відгук в американській пресі, особливо в New York Times . Уже в той час він, професор Єльського університету, користувався величезним авторитетом: стаття за його іменем мала велику вагу, на конференціях гуманітарного, а особливо історичного спрямування його цитували як одного з найвидатніших мислителів тогочасної доби. У своїх викладах і наставленні до науки був дуже об’єктивний, мав феноменальні знання, з пам’яти цитував різні погляди та різниці в доктринах поодиноких віроісповідань, контроверсійні моменти викладав безтенденційно і був дуже вдоволений, коли після викладів студенти запитували його: «А яку позицію в цій справі займаєте Ви?» Це було для нього найбільшою похвалою, яка засвідчувала його об’єктивність. Як згадано в його біографії, впродовж свого життя Ярослав Пелікан удостоївся численних відзначень, почесних докторатів, премій і нагород, престижних призначень, проте одній з його мрій не судилося здійснитися. Котрогось дня він зізнався мені, що його особа є серйозною кандидатурою на пост бібліотекаря Конґресової бібліотеки США. Як відомо, це найстарша федеральна культурна установа в Америці і найбільша бібліотека в світі. На жаль, Пелікан не був фаворитом тогочасної Першої Леді США Ненсі Рейґан, яка вплинула на призначення іншої особи.
Звернувшись до нього із запрошенням взяти участь у згаданому симпозіюмі, я був приємно здивований, що цей світової слави науковець відразу погодився виступити на форумі ЛаСальського університету за надзвичайно скромний, навіть можна сказати символічний гонорар. Це був початок нашої довголітньої дружби і співпраці, що увінчалася виданням книги Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj. На цій конференції Пелікан вперше запізнався з елітою науковців, що займалися дослідженням української історії, богослов’я та канонічного права. Тут він мав нагоду особисто нав’язати контакт з таким світочем канонічного права, як о. Віктор Поспішіль, визначними активістами патріярхального руху політологом і знавцем сучасної української проблематики Василем Маркусем та професором історії Церкви о. Петром Біланюком, як і з іншими науковцями українського походження. Всі вони зробили на Пелікана позитивне враження. На наступних зустрічах і конференціях (між ними «Українське християнство напередодні свойого другого 1000-ліття», яка відбулася 6 жовтня 1984 р. знову ж в ЛаСаль університеті) він також пізнав інших представників українського наукового і церковного світу, серед яких Архієпископ Максим Германюк, Митрополит Вінніпезький, якого Пелікан дуже цінив за його науковий фундамент, та єромонах Любомир Гузар, про якого він згодом у приватній розмові зі мною сказав наступні слова: “This man has dignity!” (Ця людина має гідність). Коли Пелікан розпочав працю над книгою про Патріярха Йосифа, тогочасний Архімандрит Студитів о. Любомир Гузар запросив його до монастиря Студіон, щоб він мав можливість краще ознайомитися з українською духовністю, яку ми плекали в діяспорі. Тоді теж поглибилося це знайомство між ними і підтвердило перше враження про майбутнього Главу Церкви, що його Пелікан виніс із зустрічі в ЛаСаль університеті.
Наше багатогранне спілкування з Ярославом Пеліканом, що – окрім історії Східної Европи загалом та християнства на цих теренах зокрема – охоплювало такі пекучі теми, як екуменізм, анти-семітизм, апартеїд, діяльність мафії, вплив комунізму на людські душі, сутність і завдання університету тощо, відбувалося трьома шляхами: під час зустрічей з різних нагод, коли він перебував у Філядельфії; телефонним шляхом та епістоляріїв у формі коротких листівок. З огляду на його професійний стаж та різницю в віці між нами, я почувався завжди як учень перед своїм ментором. Будучи ґерманістом, мені було приємно спілкуватися з ним не тільки з огляду на його досконале знання німецької мови, але й німецькомовного світу та його культури. Я з молоду любив Ґете і у наших розмовах про його творчість, цитатами з якої ми часто перекидались, ми переходили з тематики поезії до метафізики, застановляючись над значенням життя та його змістом.
Цікаво, що такої великої слави науковець був глибоко віруючою людиною, адже на Заході люди науки як правило не виявляють активности в релігійному житті. В той час вияв релігійности у провідних секулярних, а навіть в католицьких університетах, міг зашкодити розвиткові наукової кар’єри. Перехід Пелікана в православ’я показує, між іншим, як наукове заняття може сприяти духовному росту людини: повне інтелектуальне охоплення традиції Сходу, про яку він так багато писав, розбудило в ньому східно-християнські ґени та дали поштовх до «повернення до православ’я» – крок, який, на мою думку, могла зробити тільки глибоко віруюча людина. Безумовно, до цього причинилися також його професори, особливо Іван Меєндорф та Александр Шмеман, яких він високо цінив. Виявом його гордости з приналежности до східно-християнського світу був рівно ж той факт, що він часто згадував свого відомого епоніма Ярослава Мудрого і не реагував позитивно на різні спроби колег американізувати його ім’я і звертатися до нього американським відповідником Jerry. Знаючи мою приналежність до Греко-Католицької Церкви, Пелікан зараз після свого «навернення» потелефонував мені і напівжартом сказав: «Як Ти вже напевне знаєш, я перейшов на православ’я. Чи ми залишаємося друзями?» Хоч цей факт був для мене несподіванкою, я очевидно побажав йому всього найкращого і це жодним чином не вплинуло на наше подальше спілкування.
Ідею написання книжки про Патріярха Йосифа Сліпого авторства міжнародного науковця висунув вперше о. Любомир Гузар і попросив мене знайти відповідного кандидата. Я спочатку звернувся до Нормана Казенса, який, як посол Президента США Джона Ф. Кеннеді та Папи Івана ХХІІІ, суттєво причинився до справи звільнення Кир Йосифа з ув’язнення. Казенс, очевидно, не був науковцем, а радше журналістом-публіцистом, але його ім’я було загально відоме в американському світі і книжка його авторства напевно була б користувалася великою популярністю. На жаль (або на щастя), він написав лист з відмовою, в якому пояснив, що мав інші пляни, а також що стан його здоров’я не був найкращий. Проаналізувавши і відкинувши з тих чи інших причин різні кандидатури та переговоривши справу з д-р Романою Навроцькою, тодішньою місто-головою Товариства «Свята Софія» США, я звернувся офіційно до Ярослава Пелікана з пропозицією написати і видати у престижному американському видавництві ґрунтовну наукову працю про Патріярха Йосифа. У його відповіді знову виявилося об’єктивне наукове наставлення Пелікана, адже він сказав: «Не сподівайся, що я напишу гаґіоґрафію». Вибором Пелікана для виконання цього завдання був вдоволений о. Любомир Гузар, який відразу сформулював плян, що після написання книжки про Сліпого Пелікан повинен написати працю про Шептицького. На жаль, в силу різних обставин Пеліканові вдалося завершити лише монографію про Патріярха Йосифа. Одна із причин знаходиться в його листі до мене з 22 грудня 1991 року: «Благословенного Різдва бажаю Тобі і Твоїм найближчим, яке напевно є тим яскравіше в світлі позитивних подій в Україні! Ці події несуть певну двозначність, тому що це означає, що величезний архівальний матеріял, до якого я не мав доступу, пишучи «Ісповідника», є тепер відкритий. Але я справді не можу приступити до вичерпного дослідження, що його вимагає будь-яка солідна книжка про Митрополита Андрея. З великим жалем, я повідомив о. Гузара, що не зможу написати заплянованої біографії, за що перепрошую. Ярослав».

Велику ролю в написанні книжки Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj відіграв Владика Іван Хома, якого Патріярх Йосиф в колі близьких співпрацівників називав «Владика Святий», а Ярослав Пелікан, пізнавши його особисто, «охрестив» його «Маленьким Єпископом». Було запляновано, що Пелікан приїде до Риму, попрацює в архівах, запізнається з довкіллям Патріярха, між іншим з о. д-ром Іваном Музичкою та о. д-ром Іваном Дацьком, і приступить до написання книжки. Моя скромна роля зводилася до функції ґіда і перекладача головно між Владикою Хомою (який не знав англійської) та Пеліканом (який не говорив українською, хоч читав без труднощів), але вже протягом першої зустрічі цих двох науковців виявилося, що я є властиво «третій зайвий»: Пелікан користувався знаннням словацької мови, а Владика мішав польську з українською і вони чудово порозумілися. Владика Хома настоював на зустрічі Пелікана з прем’єром Італії Джуліо Андреотті, який надзвичайно позитивно ставився до Блаженнішого Йосифа після його приїзду на Захід і дуже багато йому допомагав в розбудові українського Риму. Однієї неділі ми втьрох поїхали на зустріч з Андреотті, яка тривала понад годину. За словами Пелікана одразу після цієї розмови, він виніс небагато інформацій, потрібних йому для книжки, що мене особисто здивувало, позаяк я був під враженням, що погляд Андреотті на Кир Йосифа був дуже цікавий, особливо тому що був обумовлений свого роду особистим пієтетом до особи Блаженнішого. Я відчув, що Андреотті збагнув ісповідництво віри Патріярха Сліпого.

Зі свого боку я намагався надати Пеліканові всебічну джерельну підтримку, але з уваги на мій брак професійного вишколу в царині історії Церкви, великою домогою був мій вуйко, проф. Григор Лужницький, який мав в своєму розпорядженні величезну приватну бібліотеку, що з неї ми надсилали усі необхідні матеріяли. Коли цього було недостатньо, ми навіть їхали до Конґресової бібліотеки у Вашінґтоні в пошуках необхідних джерел, за що Пелікан завжди щиросердечно дякував у своєму листуванні. Він звертався до мене із специфічними питаннями, на які ми намагалися дати вичерпну відповідь. Можливо, саме ця поміч спонукала його попросити мене написати кілька слів на супер-обкладинку книжки, що я і зробив.

Відтак, 1990 року книжка Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj вийшла друком в відомому американському видавництві Еердман (штат Мічіґан). Товариство «Свята Софія» США старалося популяризувати її не тільки в українському, але також в американському світі. Оцінивши вартість книги, д-р Романа Навроцька звернулася до проф. Василя Ящуна з пропозицією перекладу цієї праці українською мовою, що він і зробив. В наших обставинах того роду клясик вимагає нового перекладу, виконаного згідно з сучасними науковими нормами та на відповідному академічному рівні. З цього завдання надзвичайно професійно вив’язалась д-р Ірина Іванкович. Цим виданням вона поставила гідний пам’ятник великому науковцеві Ярославові Пеліканові в українському світі, на який він собі вповні заслужив. Однак насамперед ця книга – це дарунок Релігійного Товариства українців католиків «Свята Софія» усім братам і сестрам в Україні та «в розсіянні сущим» в річницю 70-ліття арешту Патріярха Йосифа Сліпого та початку репресій УГКЦ як пригадка про трагічний досвід неустанної боротьби українського народу за дар свободи рідного краю.

Mychaylo Kobryn: 2 books about Patriarch Josyf

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ДВОКНИЖЖЯ НА ПОШАНУ ВЕЛИКОГО ПАТРІАРХА

(Ірина Іванкович. «Патріарх Йосиф Сліпий і красне письменство». Том 1;
«Сидячи на санях»: Антологія літературних творів, присвячених патріярхові Йосифу Сліпому. Том 2.
Львів: Артос, 2016)

Межовість українських земель, які існують на перехресті Сходу і Заходу, породила багато унікальних соціокультурних феноменів на нашій землі. Одним з таких феноменів є Українська Греко-Католицька Церква, що є найчисельнішою спільнотою східнохристиянської традиції, яка підпорядковується Апостольській Столиці у Римі. Унікальність цієї церкви полягає у тому, що протягом історії свого існування вона пройшла багато етапів розвитку від переходу до унії більшості єпархій Київської митрополії до заборони діяльності цієї церкви на території Російської імперії (спочатку Лівобережжя, а потім і Правобережжя України). І тільки при незалежній Україні церква почала відновлювати свої позиції на Наддніпрянщині. У свою чергу на галицьких землях УГКЦ пройшла шлях від неприйняття унії Львівською та Перемишлянською єпархією до того, що церква стала основною на Галичині і не тільки в релігійно-духовному, а також і в суспільно-національному житті українців.Continue reading

ЗВЕРНЕННЯ ПАТРІЯРХА ЙОСИФА

ЗВЕРНЕННЯ ПАТРІЯРХА ЙОСИФА

При Божій помочі та завдяки великій жертвенності відданого і вірного українського Божого люду на поселеннях, Патріярхат Української Помісної Католицької Церкви набув дотепер такі добра й установи, як собор Святої Софії в Римі. Український Католицький Університеті його філії на поселеннях, храм свв. мучеників Сергія і Вакха з патріяршим двором і Музеєм, Студіон; провадив допомогову акцію на розбудову церков і монастирів та проявив велику видавничу діяльність. Ці здобутки і ця праця мусять бути не тільки забезпечені для грядучих поколінь, але мусять мати змогу рости і розвиватися, щоб сповнити великі і важкі цілі, які ми перед собою поставили для нашої Церкви і Батьківщини. Continue reading