Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A Prisoner for His People's Faith


Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky (1865-1944) was imprisoned no less than three times because of his defense of the Faith of his Ukrainian people. His personal background, spiritual journey, and persecution, closely parallel aspects of the history of the Ukrainian nation. Young Sheptytsky underwent his own process of national awakening, which resulted in his return to the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite of his ancestors. Becoming Byzantine yet remaining Catholic placed him directly at odds with the political-religious ideologies of both the Russian Empire and the reborn Polish Republic, especially since he had assumed the mantle of spiritual leadership over the Galician Ukrainians. Kyr Andrei was deported to Siberia in 1914 as an obstacle to the Tsarist Empire’s plan to absorb the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics into the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1919, he was placed under house arrest, this time by Catholic Poland, and interned three years later by the same government when he attempted to return to Lviv. Based on correspondence found in the Vatican Archives, this article reveals hitherto unknown details of the metropolitan’s imprisonments. It also sheds light on the reasons why Sheptytsky was imprisoned so many times and chronicles the vigorous interventions of the Roman Apostolic See designed to defend the metropolitan and to secure his release and return to his archeparchy of Lviv.

This article may be found in the newly-published issue of Logos (vol. 50, 2009).