Sunday, 20 September 2020

Karol Wojtyła appears in Vatican Archives

Karol Wojytła (1920–2005) is arguably the most famous Pole in history but he also made a major impact on Ukrainian history, especially on the fate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Even before his election to the papacy as John Paul II in October 1978, Wojytła had become a pivotal pubic figure in his homeland where, as Archbishop of Kraków, he held the highest offices in the Church, second only to that of Polish Primate. A few days ago, I discovered a letter written in September 1946, which might represent the first time he was brought to the attention of the Vatican.

Wojytła’s path to leadership was anything but standard, and is perhaps better described by the old Christian proverb “The ways of Providence are infinite.” To be sure, his call to priestly service happened in a period of wartime terror, where millions were slated for destruction by racial hatred and totalitarian dictatorships.    

The Nazis not only sought to destroy the body, they also sought to destroy the soul. While the Jewish people were their particular focus, they also targeted others for destruction, and among the first victims of Hitler’s racist plan was Poland. Hypothetically, it would be interesting to observe the reaction of a Holocaust denier faced with the mountain of testimonies in Vatican archives. Combing through the Foreign Affairs section of the Archive of the Secretariat of State, a researcher is overwhelmed by reports from diplomats, military chaplains, church and civic leaders, many of which were eyewitnesses to the genocides and ethnic cleansings being perpetuated in the name of the Third Reich.

From 1942, reports began to observe that German atrocities against the Jews pointed towards an intention to bring about their complete annihilation. But Hitler’s eventual plans for the Slavic peoples were not entirely dissimilar. While the Catholic Church was barely tolerated in western Europe, in the east it was being destroyed. Polish bishops, clergy, and religious were imprisoned and killed, seminaries and universities were shut. Church leaders had to find creative ways to provide ministry to their suffering flocks. The Archbishop of  Kraków, Adam Sapieha, demonstrated fearless strength in dealing with the occupiers, who were perhaps a little in awe of a man who held the rank of prince of the Holy Roman Empire.

Unlike like his protégé Wojtyła, who was of humble origins, Sapieha came from an ancient noble line and was groomed for the highest offices in the Church from an early age. He studied in Vienna, Kraków, Lwów (Lviv), Innsbruck, and Rome. From 1905 to 1911, he worked in the Roman Curia as consultant on Polish matters. In November 1911, he replaced Cardinal Jan Puzyna, as Prince-Bishop of Kraków. In the normal course of things, the Austrian Emperor would have asked the pope to name Sapieha a cardinal (as per the imperial prerogative). Then came the First World War, the fall of Austria-Hungary and Polish Independence. Together with his friend Archbishop Teodorowicz, Sapieha went against Vatican’s plans for the Polish Church and opposed the papal nuncio, Achille Ratti. After Ratti was elected Pope Pius XI, in February 1922, Teodorowicz and Sapieha were forced to resign their seats as senators, and remained under a partial cloud, as far as Rome was concerned, until the end of the pontificate. The two prelates were also in opposition to the Piłsudski dictatorship and Sapieha had his windows broken by devotes of the late dictator, when he moved the latter’s tomb to a less prominent part of the Wawel cathedral crypt. In 1939, Pius XI and his successor Pius XII refused Sapieha’s resignation. Then, the outbreak of the Second World War changed everything. 

The Archbishop of Warsaw had died in 1938 and the Primate, Cardinal Hlond, was prevented from returning from abroad. Sapieha remained the senior churchmen with the burden of acting as the leader of the bishops within the country. This brought him up against German authorities, who had slated his church and his people for destruction. His reputation quickly changed from unpopular or unpatriotic to being considered a national hero.

On 2 November 1942, Sapieha appealed directly to the governor of German-occupied Poland, Doctor Franck and, the following year, convinced the bishops still at liberty to join him in a second appeal. In the name of humanity, the episcopate decried the killings, arrests, and restrictions on church ministry. They asked for Roman Catholic seminaries to be allowed to reopen, but a response from Berlin was not forthcoming. Their pleas were heard by Pius XII, who first instructed his nuncio in Berlin to submit a diplomatic protest to the German Government but the note was sent back. Further messages elicited a dismissive reply from Joachim von Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister.

Having failed to influence the German government directly, Pius XII protested on behalf of the Church in Poland in an allocution to the College of Cardinals in June 1943. Translated into Polish, it was read from the pulpit in Warsaw Cathedral. His messages received effusive thanks from the episcopate, from Prime Minister Sikorski, and President Raczkiewicz, who declared himself “profoundly moved by Your Holiness’s words.”

In the meantime, imprisoned and murdered priests had to be replaced, Sapieha opened an clandestine seminary and informed Rome of the situation. When Pius XII learned of the seminary, he instructed the Secretariat of State to send the following message to the Archbishop: “The August Pontiff, with good wishes and fervent prayer, supports this initiative, which is so important for the future of the Church in those regions.” Little did the pontiff know how important the underground seminary would become for the entire world it was already preparing his successor in the Chair of Peter.

No sooner had the Nazis been defeated when Poland, abandoned by the European Allies, was forced by the victorious Soviets to accept another totalitarian regime. Adam Sapieha was finally created cardinal in February 1946 and, undeterred, remained at his post until his death, in 1951. In the meantime, he began to prepare the Polish Church to bring forth new laborers for the spiritual harvest.

On 22 September 1946, Sapieha sent the following letter to Monsignor Domenico Tardini, head of the Secretariat of State’s section for Extraordinary (Diplomatic) Affairs:


Most Illustrious Monsignor,

You will easily understand that we very much want to send our seminarians to Roman universities in order to give them the possibility to perfect their studies and to live, for a time, in the capital of the Church. However, in order to enter Italy, it is necessary to have permission from the Italian Government and to be provided for financially. Wherefore, I am asking if, in some way, You could obtain this permission for us. As to being provided for, they would stay at a College that would provide this assurance. 

For the moment, we hope to be able to obtain passport for two students, that is, Karol Wojtyła and Stanisław Starowiejski, students of Kraków Diocesan Seminary. I apologize, Monsignor, for disturbing You, but it was necessary to take advantage of the occasion.


With the two seminarians' curricula vitae enclosed, Cardinal Sapieha’s letter arrived at the Vatican on 1 October 1946, although Monsignor Samoré was at a loss to explain how it had been delivered. On 4 October, Tardini presented a nota verbale to the Italian Ambassador to the Holy See, asking for his assistance and mentioning the names of the two students. 

For a seminarian to be ‘mentioned in dispatches’ by name is a rare thing. And this letter might well represent the first mention of Wojtyła in correspondence with the Apostolic See, contained in Vatican archival collections. Sapieha had not specified but, in fact, neither seminarian had yet been ordained. Wojtyła was to receive minor orders and subdiaconate on 13 October, diaconate on 20th, and priestly orders on 1 November. He was already in Rome on 15 November and registered at the Pontifical Athenaeum (later University) of Saint Thomas Aquinas (known as the Angelicum) on 26 November. This author, who studied Philosophy and Theology at the same university, was privileged to have been present in 1994, when John Paul II came to the Angelicum’s aula magna, which had been renamed in his honor.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

The Vatican and Events in Soviet Ukraine

Next month, I will be presenting an overview on post 1939 Vatican sources pertaining the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, in a conference organized by the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Much of this information comes from a book I am publishing about Metropolitan Sheptytsky and from recently opened archives.

During the Second World War, the Holy See (the Vatican) struggled to obtain reliable information about the situation of the local Churches in war-torn Europe. This was particularly difficult in areas under the control of Soviet forces, which did not permit communication with the rest of the world.

  Soon after the Nazis and Soviets partitioned Poland, in September 1939, rumours began circulating in the west that Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, Greek-Catholic primate and Archbishop of Lviv-Halych, had been arrested, deported, or killed by the Soviet invaders. Indeed, Sheptytsky himself had been expecting such a scenario, since the Imperial Russian authorities had deported and imprisoned him in 1914. But no such orders were issued, neither in September 1939 nor when the Soviets returned to Lviv in the summer of 1944, following a German interregnum. Kyr Andrey’s moral authority had become too great and Stalin preferred to wait for his imminent demise before setting in motion his plans to suppress and merge the Greek-Catholic Church with his own state-controlled entity, staffed (especially in Ukraine) by clerics working for the Soviet secret services.

            Having endured most of the Second World War, following a long and painful illness, Metropolitan Andrey finally succumbed on 1 November 1944. His brother, Hieromonk Klymentiy, wrote a note to their other brother, General Stanisław, which read: “This very day, at a quarter-to-two in the afternoon, our dear Metropolitan fell asleep in the Lord.” Four days later, news of the venerable prelate’s death was already appearing in the European press, and the Polish Ambassador to the Holy See informed the Papal Secretariat of State of the fact on 12 November. A brief notice was published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano on 14 November followed, the next day, by a longer panegyric containing laudatory declarations from the Cabinet of Ministers of the Polish Government in London. The Government-in-Exile also ordered a solemn requiem Mass to be said by the Polish Military Ordinary on 2 December, at the Church of Saint Stanislaw in Rome.

Confirmation of Sheptytsky’s death from Lviv was not forthcoming for three months. On 6 March 1945, a letter arrived from Sheptytsky’s successor, Metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi, addressed to Pope Pius XII and dated 19 November 1944. Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, head of the Congregation for the Eastern Church (Oriental Congregation), presented the letter to the Pope when he was next received in audience, on 10 March.

News of Slipyi’s succession presented a problem for the Vatican. According to the Concordat between the Holy See and the Second Polish Republic, episcopal appointments required a nihil obstat from the Polish President. But Slipyi had been appointed secretly as coadjutor-successor to Sheptytsky in November 1939, shortly after the Soviet takeover. The Vatican foreign ministry (a section of the Secretariat of State) chose to keep the appointment secret until the end of the war, in order to avoid an inevitable clash with the exiled government. After news arrived that Slipyi succeeded to the post, this became unavoidable.

Monsignor Domenico Tardini, head of the Vatican foreign office, informed Polish Ambassador Casimir Papée that Yosyf Slipyi had succeeded Andrey Sheptytsky in the primatial Lviv-Halych See. Papée had no choice but to issue a diplomatic protest, but his government was in a precarious position. In July 1945, the United States followed by the Allied Governments gave in to Stalin and transferred diplomatic recognition from London to Lublin, where the Soviet occupiers had set up a supposed coalition which was really a Communist regime. Although Papée tried everything to countermand the appointment, in the end diplomatic notes were exchanged stating that it was an exception to the rule, made under wartime conditions. Rather than the exception, it became the new norm: No further placets would be solicited from London, and the Polish People's Republic declared the concordat to be void.

Unbeknown to either party, three days before the Holy See and the Government-in-exile resolved the theoretical conundrum, the entire Greek-Catholic hierarchy, including Slipyi, was arrested and deported by the Soviet secret police. The first news of their arrest reached the Vatican three months later from a Greek-Catholic priest of Polish origins, Count Piotr Rzewuski (later known as Bronsisław Kreuza). He had been a eyewitness to Sheptytsky’s death and the events that followed. As a Pole, he was permitted to leave Soviet Ukraine on 15 June and immediately made his way to Rome. 

After checking his story with the exiled auxiliary-bishop of Lviv, Ivan Buchko, Cardinal Tisserant informed Pius XII on 11 August 1945. At the audience’s conclusion, the Pope kept the typed agenda (foglio di udienza), containing the details, among his own papers. Tisserant’s second in command, Bishop Antonio Arata, sent official notification to the Secretariat of State on 17 September. A week later, further details arrived, via Bishop Buchko, from five sources that had contact with Ukraine via underground agents. The sources specified the exact date of the hierarchs arrest, 11 April 1945, and confirmed their deportation to Kiev, the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In October, Rzewuski would be allowed to present to the pontiff the homage of the loyal Ukrainian clergy, who had been “deprived of their shepherd.” In December, the Pope issued an encyclical letter, Orientales omnes, decrying their imprisonment only days after the Russian Patriarch issued a call to Greek-Catholics to join his fold (a call which would be implemented by force by the NKVD at a fake synod, the following year).

No concrete news of the Ukrainian Catholic bishops’ condition would be be forthcoming for a decade. False reports were published announcing Slipyi’s demise, the first of these appearing in January 1945 in the British Catholic paper, The Tablet. Following the hierarchs’ condemnation by a Soviet military tribunal, on 3 June 1946, the Holy See assumed that Slipyi had died, and Tardini said as much to the peeved Polish ambassador. It was only after Stalin’s death, and the release of some of the bishops and clergy from the gulag, that news to the contrary reached Vatican City. In January 1954, Buchko (now Archbishop), reported that Slipyi was still alive and in prison. The news prompted an elderly and ailing Pius XII to include Slipyi’s name at the top of hierarchs to which he addrressed his encyclical Novimus nos in May 1956. The following December, he sent a formal apostolic letter to Slipyi on the occasion of the latter’s seventieth birthday, congratulating him on his fidelity. We know that a copy of the papal message reached the imprisoned metropolitan. Pius XII did not live to greet Slipyi upon his arrival in Rome seven years later, in January 1963. Negotiations for the longsuffering prelate’s release were carried out by curial officials of Pius’ successor, Pope John XXIII.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

A Vatican Memo, Sheptytsky, and the Holocaust

Українські версії тут і тут.

Ven. Andrey Sheptytsky, St George's. Lviv
Recently, a German scholar, Hubert Wolf, gave a "spoiler" interview in which he spoke of previously unearthed documents from Vatican archival collections of 1939–1958, which had been opened briefly this past March. I myself had an opportunity to view some of the newly available files before Italy and the Vatican shut down, due to the Coronavirus quarantine. 

Wolf singled out a memo, penned by a Vatican functionary, regarding a request from the American Government to help confirm the veracity of reports of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish People. The memo also mentions parallel reports from the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Lviv, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky.

As background, Wolf cited a letter that Sheptytsky had written to Pope Pius XII in August 1942. He also made conjectures about the historical significance of the memo. Other journalists picked up his remarks and produced clamorous and sensationalist pieces presenting Wolf's theories as conclusive facts. This "fake news" is now makings its rounds in the Ukrainian press. Some reporters did not refer back to the original interview and assumed that Wolf also claimed to have discovered Sheptytsky's 1942 letter. This is not the case.
With over 20 years experience of research in various Vatican collections, I usually notice when something is amiss in reports about those archives. The clearest explanation of the memo's context is offered by Matteo Luigi Napoletano, in his article about the way research should done among newly-opened Vatican files (the English translation is not the best). Napoletano provides the precise archival citation of  Monsignor Angelo Dell'Acqua's internal memo, dated 3 October 1942: Secretariat of State Archives, Affari Ecclesiastici Straordinari [AES], period V, Germania Extracta, position 742, folio 25. Since Napoletano's English translation is awkward, I offer my own rendering here:

No doubt the news contained in the letter by Ambassador Taylor is very serious. But the need arises to ascertain that they correspond to truth, since exaggeration is easy even among Jews. It’s not enough, in my humble opinion, to base it upon information given by the Ruthenian Catholic Metropolitan-Archbishop of Lviv and on Signor Malvezzi (even Orientals are not an example in matters of sincerity). But if we accept the news as true, it would be appropriate to proceed with great prudence in confirming it to Mr. Tittmann, since I also sense something political (if not purely political) in the American Government's initiative. This would bring publicity in the event of confirmation by the Holy See. And that could cause unpleasant consequences, not only for the Holy See but also for the Jews themselves who are into hands of the Germans, and who could be subject to an increase in the hateful and barbaric measures adopted against them.

The information given by "the Ruthenian Catholic Metropolitan-Archbishop of Lviv" refers to a letter of Sheptytsky addressed to Pope Pius XII, dated 29–31 August 1942. Rather than a recent discovery, the document was published 53 years ago in the collections Actes et Documents du Saint-Siège [ADSS], vol. 3/2, document no. 406, pages 625–629. There is a photograph of one of the pages of the handwritten document on page 628. A good English translation of this letter is available here

The 29–30 August 1942 letter is perhaps the most informative of approximately 30 letters the Metropolitan wrote to Rome, during the Second World War. The majority of these were addressed to Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, head of the Vatican department responsible for the Eastern Churches (Sacred Congregation of the Eastern Church, as it was known at the time). Sheptytsky also addressed about seven letters to Pope Pius XII directly, and  a few others to the papal secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione. The Metropolitan also communicated with three other churchmen in Rome: he sent 30 letters to his auxiliary bishop, Ivan Buchko, at least four to the Jesuit General Superior, and three to Father Cyrille Korolevskij.

In subsequent letters to Bishop Buchko, Metropolitan Andrey explained why, previously, he had not provided more candid and detailed information. With his couriers being captured and arrested, Sheptytsky was reluctant to send details which could fall into the wrong hands, "even in Rome." That reference, from a letter dated 3 May 1943, likely refers to interception by Fascist agents, which were allied with the Hitler regime. This could also provide an explanation as to why a letter to the Pope dated March 1942 was never sent. It was likely superseded by the more detailed August report, dispatched when a reliable courier was found.

The memo's reference to "the Orientals" (Eastern Catholics and Orthodox) not being examples "in matters of sincerity" means that the curial official in question, Angelo Dell'Acqua, had some doubts about the veracity of the Metorpolitan's information. Why was that? While most inquiries focus on deciphering Dell'Acqua's remarks regarding Jewish sources, I would offer a brief explanation of the comments on Sheptytsky. 

There are a number of distinct departments in the Papal bureaucracy (the Roman Curia). The most influential is the Secretariat of State, the head of which is like a prime minister to the Pope and a moderator of the whole curial system. Another department is the Congregation for the Eastern Churches or Oriental Congregation as it has been popularly known for almost a century. Each department has a different portfolio and a different view of Church affairs as well as matters that effect the Church from without. Each department vies for the Pope's ear and hopes that their their view of things will prevail and become Vatican policy. 

One of the responsibilities of the State Secretariat is to attend to political matters and relations with sovereign entities. Thus it holds a somewhat political view. The Oriental Congregation is concerned with the wellbeing of the Eastern Churches, and thus holds a more Eastern view. In the early twentieth century, the State Secretariat relied on information sources such as the Polish Ambassador and the Polish-Latin hierarchs. They both represented the Polish view, which was antagonistic toward the Eastern Churches. Ukrainians had no diplomatic representative to present their views at the Vatican. It is no surprise then, that the State Secretariat was very suspicious of Andrey Sheptytsky. On he other hand, the Oriental Congregation, headed by the orientalist scholar Eugène Tisserant, understood and highly valued Sheptytsky's views and plans. 

When it came to Sheptytsky, Pius XII gave his diplomatic Secretariat a hearing, but usually took the advice of his eastern expert, Tisserant. This was manifestly the case regarding Sheptytsky's two most beloved projects: the appointment of his successor and the creation of exarchates in the territories where they had been suppressed or hindered by antagonistic civil governments (especially Russia and Poland). In both cases Papa Pacelli approved to the Lviv Metropolitan's projects over the head of diplomatic objections from his State Department.

If the August 1942 letter tells us nothing that we have not already known for 50 years, there are other letters from Sheptytsky, not yet been made public, which refer to the situation in Ukraine and to the Holocaust. Below is an excerpt from his letter to Tisserant, dated 28 December 1942:

The terror is increasing. For the last two months they executed in Lviv, even without a trial, more than 70,000 Jews. […] Also the arrests continue. From day to day it is becoming clearer that this is aimed at the anahilation of all the intellectuals, both Ukrainians and Poles. 

And here is an expert from his letter to Buchko, dated  30 January 1943:

All the time there is more proof that they want to completely annihilate us. For example, a German supervisor of an interpreter (seminarian) working in Greater Ukraine admitted to him confidentially that the plan for the country is this: to leave only a half million people in all of Ukraine. And to his question, "what about the rest," he received the reply: "Well, that’s obvious..." And truly it is beomming more obvious every day. They place prisoners and workers under such conditions that it is abundantly clear that they intend for the majority to perish. Elderly folk, in various places, are afraid to ask for assistance, since those who ask are arrested and shot within the hour. Thus some old men that lived at the base of Saint George's in Lviv, were all gunned down. In villages and towns people are shot daily, not merely without any trial but also without any reason. The prison on Lącki (Lonsky) Street in Lviv constantly fills up but then empties out. They are taken away in vehicles to be killed somewhere else. In the last few days Father Kovch was arrested and some say that it is not over yet. In prisons and camps (the worst in Auschwitz where Diakiv is with many Banderites). You know about the fate of the Jews in Lviv. In the last two months about 60,000 perished. I don’t know when I’ll send that letter. The nuncio [Orsenigo] won’t accept them so perhaps the Order of Malta’s train.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Audiences with Cardinal Pacelli and the Defence of Kosher

The critical edition of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli's handwritten minutes, from audiences with Pope Pius XI and the Diplomatic corps, is being prepared by historians of the Vatican Archives. To date, two volumes have been released, the audiences of 1930 and 1931.

Throughout the 1930s, Pacelli repeatedly drew the attention of the diplomatic corps to the fact that Hitler and his racist ideology was a huge problem for humankind. After a number of sensational articles appeared in the press, I thought it was time to publish English translations of the audience minutes and other documents which I transcribed several years ago, from two Vatican archival collections.    

Minutes taken by papal Secretary of State, 
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli 
from his daily audiences with Pope Pius XI 
and from his audiences with the Diplomatic Corps  

Pius XI–Pacelli, 13 May 1933
Re. Possible Audience for Minister Göbbels 
The Holy Father regrets that he is not able to receive him.

Pacelli–von Bergen, 18 May 1933
            The upcoming visit to Rome of Minister Göbbels was discussed.  The Ambassador has written to Baron Neurath to ensure that the Minster does not ask for an Audience with the Holy Father, something to be avoided [as it would require] and official refusal.

Pacelli–Charles Roux, 6 July 1934
He spoke about the situation in Germany and the barbaric killings that happened there, saying that a government like that represents a great danger for the peace of Europe. He made me read the report of the French Ambassador in Stockholm, in which the latter recounts that the Archbishop of Uppsala, Dr Eidem, travelled to Berlin to speak with Hitler in defence of the Protestant churches. Hitler gave a speech for three-quarters of an hour to explain that he was the greatest and most beloved man in Germany and with a single word was capable of destroying the Protestant religion, and also the Catholic one. The Archbishop said to the Ambassador that Germany is being governed by a “madman.” 

Pacelli–Charles Roux, 27 July 1934
He spoke about the very serious events in Vienna. [Attempted Nazi coup] I told to him that, in my view, it would be opportune for the [European] Powers to take vigorous steps in order to put a stop to such a serious cause of disorder in the heart of Europe.

Pacelli–Charles Roux, 9 August 1934
            He also told me that, in Berlin, the idea of a common initiative of the three Powers (Italy, France, Britain) had not succeeded, following the events in Austria. Britain generally does not like to become involved in the affairs of the continent. ... Everyone knows the role that Germany actually played and its responsibility; but it was impossible for France to propose a joint intervention, when the other two parties did not intend to participate.

Pacelli–Skrzyński, 14 September 1935
Returning from a brief stay in Germany […] He complained about the attitude of many priests, especially the elderly which, in their opposition to the new regime. They will not accept even that which is truly good and don’t want to allow the salute ‘Heil Hitler’, etc. I responded that it while it is very true that there is a strong religious revival in Germany, […] that is certainly not to be attributed to the Government, which persecutes the Church and keeps as Reichsleiter of German Culture someone like Rosenberg. […] So it is not surprising if priests are show little support to a Government which makes the Church suffer so much.

Pius XI–Pacelli, 29 December 1935
Re. Yesterday’s words of the Pope to the German Ambassador. 
The Holy Father said, with profound emption: We did not expect to be treated this way by Germany. There is someone who says, like Napoleon said in Russia, that in a few years the Catholic Church will disappear in Germany. It is not the Church that is to disappear, others will disappear.

Pius XI–Pacelli, 30 December 1935
The Holy Father once again explained his words to the German Ambassador. He said: “There have always been those who have said that the Church is destined to disappear. But it has always been those people who have disappeared, not the Church.”

Pacelli–Skrzyński, 7 March 1936
            Exposition of the World Press […] Ferociously anti-Semitic papers were represented but a very Catholic paper like Czas was not. 

Pacelli–Charles Roux, 20 March 1936
In the morning he had an audience with the Holy Father to whom he presented his recent historical work on Napoleon. The Holy Father conversed with him for a long time and with much benevolence. The Ambassador revealed to His Holiness the motives for which it was opportune that the Holy See express itself about the aforementioned concept in the interests of its own situation in France, where silence would not be understood. The Holy Father thanked him having spoken in a  kindly way and said to him: If you would have immediately gone into the Rhineland with two-hundred thousand men, you would have done everybody a favour. (His Eminence the Cardinal Vicar [of Rome] came to see me this morning after his own audience, and told me that the Holy Father had said the same thing to him). The Ambassador responded that it was not done because of the love of peace; and His Holiness replied that he appreciated  such sentiments but repeated: If you would have immediately gone into the Rhineland with two-hundred thousand soldiers, you would have done everybody a favour. You are being told this by the Pope that Maurras calls “the most German in history.”

Pius XI–Pacelli, 4 April 1936
Re. the German Ambassador insisting on an Audience for Minister Frank.
            Not possible — if it were conceded, he would return to Germany and said that he had been received by the Pope and that everything is fine.

Pacelli–Pignatti Morano, 8 January 1938
            He came at my summons. I explained to the Ambassador that, after the Holy Father on Christmas Eve made that lofty and wise protest against religious persecution in Germany, it would have been distressing for Him to read in yesterdays and this morning’s papers (for example in Il Messaggero) an exaltation of Hitler and of National Socialism to the level of delirium. And this when, there not a single comforting piece of news from Germany regarding the Government; neither from the nuncio nor from the Bishops nor from other sources; not a single obstacle removed, not a single one of the Holy See’s protests is heard with the slightest deference!

Pacelli– Pignatti Morano, 25 March 1938
He came at my summons by order of the Holy Father, in order to speak with him about what the papers published regarding the illumination of buildings on the occasion of the upcoming visit of Hitler to Rome, and of the measures published regarding the extension of such illumination to the Via della Concilazione and perhaps even religious houses and Catholic institutes. This would greatly displease the Holy Father, to Whom it was promised [by whom?] that nothing would ever be done which would cause him displeasure. His Holiness asks if this apotheosis to the point of excesses, of a confessed enemy of the Catholic Church and of the Christian religion, is not contrary the first article of the Concordat, as well as against good sense. That which the Head of the Government [Mussolini] sent the Ambassador to say made the Holy Father frown. The Holy Father is tempted to doubt his [Mussolini’s] sincerity.
            The Ambassador said that he will deal with the matter immediately and hopes to be able to promptly put the matter in order. He added that the Governor of Rome had even prepared a letter to obtain the consent of Vatican authorities for an illumination with large reflectors on Saint Peter's Basilica, on the occasion of the arrival of Hitler, but he stopped it. The Ambassador has cause to believe that this union with Germany, in which the Italian Government is entangled out of necessity, will not last long. For the moment and by necessity, external appearances make up for lack of solid content. The Osservatore Romano does well to hammer against the abuses of Nazism. He [the Ambassador] immediately shows all those articles to the [Foreign] Minister. After the annexation of Austria, everyone was apparently against the Minister, but now things have calmed down. 

Pacelli–Menschausen (chargé d’affaires), 7 September 1938
            I believe even less that Ambassador [von Bergen] speaks with the mandate of the Government in as much as, for two years, our relations have become purely formal; so much so– an example which I believe to virtually unique – although there is an Ambassador, I no longer receive any response to my diplomatic Notes. 
            Herr Menschausen replied that we should also have been able to understand the opinion in Germany from the press. I answered that, in Germany (as in Italy) the press carries but a single view; those who have a different opinion kommen nicht zum Worte [do not speak].

From correspondence between Cardinal Pacelli and the Apostolic Nuncio in Warsaw, Archbishop Filippo Cortesi, Regarding Anti-Semitic regulations

Pacelli–Cortesi, 26 April 1938.
            According to information received here and that which was reported in the press: in Poland an anti-Semitic law was introduced, which no longer permits butchering by slitting the jugular vein, which the Israelites are obliged to perform according to their religious precepts.
Wherefore, the August Pontiff, inspired by a noble sense of benevolence toward all who suffer persecution, desires Your Excellency, after ascertaining the veracity of such news, to explain to the Polish Government, in the form and under the circumstances you deem appropriate, that it would be inopportune to interfere […] in matters which are of a strictly ritual character.

Cortesi–Pacelli, 7 May 1938.
That law was indeed debated and approved by the Chamber of Deputies but was suspended in the Senate and will not be reintroduced. […] As your Eminence rightly notes, every anti-Semitic act of persecution or violence must be condemned.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Unity and Universality upon English Shores

On Saturday, 21 March, Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski is enthroned as bishop of the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. Although he is only the second eparch since the creation of a full eparchy in 2013, he is the seventh bishop to shepherd the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics of the United Kingdom.
Kyr Buchko in Great Britain
            Although Ukrainian Catholics began to settle in Britain around 1900, the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Kievan tradition (UGCC) was canonically established for them only in 1947, when Bishop Ivan Buchko was given jurisdiction over all the Ukrainian Catholic clergy and faithful scattered across western Europe, following the Second World War. He came to London on 4 January 1947 and, the following day, formally notified the local Catholic hierarchy of his charge. Raised to the rank of archbishop in 1953, Buchko held jurisdiction over Great Britain until the creation of an apostolic exarchate for England and Wales, in June 1957 (extended to the rest of the United Kingdom in 1967). And he continued as apostolic visitor over various parts of Europe until 1971.
            Being too poor to build their own churches, Ukrainians relied on generous moral and financial support of the Roman Catholic hierarchs, parish priests, and organizations. Still, the English and Welsh bishops would have preferred to have the Ukrainians under a single Latin ecclesial structure. For this reason, a proposal for a separate Ukrainian bishopric was rejected in October 1954. In the face of resistance from the bishops, the project was salvaged due to the firm leadership of Cardinal Eugène Tisserant at the helm of the Vatican Congregation pro Ecclesia Orientali (renamed “of the Eastern Churches” after the Second Vatican Council).
Tisserant 1950
With the eparchies suppressed in their homeland, Pope Pius XII had promised to restore the Ukrainian hierarchy in the diaspora, and Cardinal Tisserant helped find a way to keep that promise. Buchko was to be relieved of some of his responsibilities by the creation of individual apostolic exarchates for England, Germany, and France. Since the local hierarchs were reluctant to see a ‘foreigner,’ Tisserant asked the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bernard Griffin, to serve as first exarch. In April 1955, Griffin accepted and the English hierarchy gave their approval. However, Scotland was to be left under Archbishop Buchko, since it was considered inappropriate for an English archbishop to hold jurisdiction in that country. Pius XII approved the apostolic exarchate for England and Wales in June 1955.
Cardinal Tisserant had obtained what was possible for the moment. Once the Latin bishops got used to the structure, a Ukrainian bishop would be appointed. But knowing the strong nationalistic feelings of the Displaced Persons (DPs), Buchko worried that the faithful would not accept an English exarch unless a there was a Ukrainian priest or auxiliary bishop at his side. He suggested proceeding with an exarchate in Germany, but the search for suitable candidates led to the postponement of both projects. In the meantime, Cardinal Griffin died prematurely and his successor, Archbishop William Godfrey, had to be approached. Godfrey accepted on 2 May 1957 and the exarchate was  finally created on 10 June 1957 with the issuing of a papal bull, Quia Christus omnes. 
The formal handover of the mission proved to be somewhat complicated. Buchko came to London, in August, to perform a final visitation and met with Godfrey to discuss the handover and appointment of a Ukrainian vicar-general, to run day-to-day affairs. Godfrey insisted that such a priest be from Canada, as a former British colony and member of the Commonwealth.
Buchko was adamant that Ukrainians witness the Latin and Byzantine hierarchies cooperating at a solemn liturgical ceremony. It had to take place in the tiny Ukrainian church in Saffron Hill, rather than at Westminster Cathedral, and the Byzantine Liturgy needed to be celebrated by a member of the Ukrainian Catholic hierarchy. Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk of Winnipeg was in London in September, but did not officiate because the ceremony was delayed: the papal bull did not arrive on time and Godfrey left for Ireland on his annual vacation. 
The problem was resolved when Cardinal Tisserant instructed Archbishop Buchko to return to London to preside. The ceremony took place on 10 November 1957, according to an order of service devised by Buchko and approved by Apostolic Delegate O’Hara. The newly-appointed exarch and the apostolic delegate were received at the entrance of the church by Buchko, who presided over a hierarchical Divine Liturgy concelebrated by Ukrainian priests. As exarch, Godfrey gave the blessings in Church Slavonic and assisted from a throne on the left side, while the apostolic delegate sat in a simpler throne on the right. The papal bull was read in Latin and Ukrainian. Buchko brought greetings from the Ukrainian hierarchy, the clergy made obeisance by kneeling and kissing the ring of the enthroned exarch. The ceremony concluded with the intonation of the liturgical prayer “God grant them many years” (Mnohaya lita) for Exarch Godfrey, Apostolic Delegate O’Hara, the imprisoned Metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi, and the Ukrainian hierarchy worldwide. Godfrey was accompanied by his two priest-secretaries and his courtly gentleman, Anthony Bartlett
Godfrey & Buchko 1957
On 30 December 1957, Buchko replied to Godfrey’s letter of thanks, assuring him that he conserved beautiful memories of that solemnity which will be surely noted in the pages of the history, not only of the Ukrainian Catholic Church but also those of the Universal Church, during which unity and universality were magnificently resplendent upon English shores.
            All of Godfrey’s successors held proper enthronement ceremonies, which involved being ritually lifted into their throne and receiving a Byzantine crozier. Each ceremony was slightly different and, as with the first bishop’s, encountered some difficulties in the planning and execution. 
Enthronement 1963
Bishop Hornyak, the second exarch, was scheduled to be enthroned on 6 June 1963. Pope John XXIII died three days before. Rather than postpone, some adjustments were made. Westminster Diocese was represented by the Capitular Vicar, Bishop Craven, as the see had been vacant since the death of Cardinal Godfrey. Hornyak was lifted into the throne and given the pastoral crozier by Apostolic Delegate O’Hara. However, as a sign of mourning, the clergy wore red and the exarch wore a red omophorion. Following the Divine Liturgy, panakhyda was celebrated for the late pope.
Enthronement 1968 
On 12 May 1968, Bishop Hornyak was enthroned again, this time as apostolic exarch for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The ceremony took place at the Ukrainian church of the Protection of the Mother of God and Saint Andrew, in Edinburgh. It was performed by Apostolic Delegate Igino Cardinale and attended by the Scottish Catholic hierarchy: Archbishop Gray of Edinburgh, Bishop Scanlon of Glasgow, and Bishop Hart of Dundee. 
Enthronement 1989
On 10 October 1989, the third exarch, Bishop Michael Kuchmiak, was the first to be enthroned at the Ukrainian Cathedral of the Holy Family in London. The rite was performed by the apostolic pro-nuncio, with Cardinal Basil Hume of Westminster assisting from a throne. On 16 June 2002, the fourth exarch, Paul Chomnycky, was enthroned by a Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. Although several Ukrainian hierarchs came, neither the nuncio nor any of the Latin bishops were able to attend. 
Enthronement 2011
Upon his appointment as apostolic administrator in 2009, Bishop Hlib Lonchyna held an inaugural Divine Liturgy with Cardinal Husar and two English bishops assisting from the throne. After being confirmed as fifth exarch on 8 November 2011, Kyr Hlib was enthroned by the nuncio, Archbishop Mennini. Husar’s successor, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, presided at the hierarchical Liturgy concelebrated by several British bishops as well as Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Melkite Greek-Catholic and Latin clergy. Ecumenical representatives attended from Ukrainian Orthodox and Presbyterian Churches. 

Cardinal enthrones Eparch 2020
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the date of Kyr Kenneth’s enthronement was brought forward. The ceremony itself was changed to a semi-private rite performed by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, standing in for His Beatitude Sviatoslav. His Eminence had previously attended significant Ukrainian celebrations, including the 2009 inauguration (when he was yet Bishop of Birmingham). Cardinal Nichols also invited His Beatitude and all the European Eastern Catholic bishops to celebrate an hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Westminster Cathedral, in 2017. This is the first Ukrainian inauguration/enthronement in Britain to be broadcast live, over the internet. A public celebration marking the beginning of the eparch’s ministry is being planned for a later date.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Mitred Archpriest Mykola Matychak

Seminary photo 1950
An Officer and a Gentleman
(1922 –2000)

On the 20th anniversary 
of his repose in the Lord.

Born 13 December 1922. in Stibno district of Peremyshl (Przemyśl) eparchy to peasant farmers Panteleimon Matychak [Matyczak] and Anna née Yakubovska. He attended the local elementary school from 1928, the Przemyśl gymnasium from 1936 and the commercial school. He was hired by the town office in 1941. He enrolled in eighth grade in Drohobych and took the matura exam on 17 November 1942, after which he worked at a milk plant. He joined in the Galicia Division in 1943 and took the officers course at Graz, Austria, in 1944, subsequently serving as lieutenant of the battalion. Following the surrender to the British, on 10 May 1945, he was interned at Bellaria, Italy, and subsequently at nearby Rimini.

Until this day I still do not know how our release came about. Was it due to Vatican intervention? ...  Are there some documents about it somewhere? ... Perhaps, in future, a researcher will find them in some archive.  – Father Ivan Muzychka, From Rimini to Rome

Bishop Buchko visits POWs
Vatican files opened for the first time, only two weeks ago, reveal the following: In June 1945 Bishop Ivan Buchko, himself a "displaced person," began lobbying the Apostolic See to assist Ukrainian refugees and POWS in Italy. He secured permission to dispatch two Ukrainian priests (Ivan Bilanych and Mykhailo Vavryk) to furnish the five Division chaplains (4 Catholic and one Orthodox) with liturgical supplies. On 28 July, Pope Pius XII received Cardinal Eugène Tisserant in audience. Tisserant presented the plight of Ukrainians as highly urgent and, upon his recommendation, the pontiff appointed Bishop Buchko as apostolic visitor to Ukrainian refugees and POWs. He also promised Tisserant that the diplomatic arm of the Holy See would plead with the British and American ambassadors to save the Division from the Soviets. With the Pope's approval, Tisserant wrote to Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (who later became Pope Paul VI), to obtain permission for some soldiers to enter the seminary. At the same time, Bishop Buchko was given clearance to visit Bellaria and gathered the names of former seminarians as well as new recruits. On 10 November, the list of seminarians was presented to the Holy See, which forwarded it to British authorities.

Of 30 volunteers only 26 presented themselves on the morning of 21 November 1945. After travelling all day, they arrived first at Saint Peter’s Square and reached Pontifical Saint Josaphat’s College by evening. Dressed in full uniform, Matychak, the only officer among the group, rendered formal thanks to the chaplain who handed them over to the College superiors. On 28 November he signed a curriculum vitae composed for him, in Italian, by Father Ivan Khomenko (Don Iván), a biblical scholar residing at the college.

The undergraduate seminarians studied at Pontifical Urban University (Urbaniana). Matychak was chosen as vice-prefect of the college. He excelled in sociology, pedagogy, biblical exegesis, pastoral theology and missionary studies. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy 1947, a Bachelor in Sacred Theology 1950, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology 1951. His rector, Father Yosyf Zaiachkivskyi, described him as “disciplined and exemplary, diligent, conscientious, laborious, sociable, charitable, active, strong and manly.” He was  ordained to the minor orders by Bishop Buchko in the College chapel, 4 March 1951, and to the priesthood on 3 May of the same year. 

Founding Marian Brotherhood 1954
It took several months of formalities with the International Refugee Office and British consular authorities for Matychak to be allowed to relocate to Great Britain. He arrived in December 1951 and his first assignment was curate of the Coventry pastoral zone, serving Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Somersetshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall (December 1951–1953); from March 1953 his base was changed to Wolverhampton; his next assignment was parish priest of the Edinburgh pastorate serving all of Scotland, especially Glasgow, Galashields, Dundee, Grangemouth, Halmuir Hostel at Lockerbie, Annan, and Perth (December 1953–1971); from 1955 he also served Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmorland, and County Durham (with a pause from 1960–1962); he was transferred to the parish of Saint Olha, Peterborough (1971–1974), but was recalled to Edinburgh for a final year (1974–1975).

With Archbishop Gray of Edinburgh
Matychak's Edinburgh congregation worshipped in a chapel at a Ukrainian community centre on Mansion House Road, at Saint Columba Roman Catholic Church, Upper Grey Street, and sometimes Saint Patrick's. In 1964, they finally acquired a church in Dalmeney Street, Leith (Edinburgh), rechristened the following year as Our Lady of Pochaïv and St. Andrew. During his years of service, through sympathetic and active engagement and with his pedagogical-pastoral skills, he was very successful in organizing and keeping harmony within the Ukrainian hromada (community) and between the community and the church. 

First pilgrimage to Carfin Grotto
He founded chapters of Marian Brotherhood and Sisterhood, organized religious and social events and outings, pilgrimages, and established Ukrainian Saturday schools. He also published a multi-page bulletin for the Edinburgh pastorate. In many of his initiatives he involved the local Roman-Catholic clergy, missionary preachers, and hierarchy and received their support, often celebrating in the Latin cathedrals. He did not neglect Orthodox Christians, lending the use of his church in a pioneer ecumenical gesture, in the late 1960s, and helping them to form their own congregation. For his tireless pastoral missions, the Roman Catholic clergy referred to him as “Saint Paul of Scotland.” A few months after his visit to Scotland, on 29 November 1970, Cardinal Yosyf Slipyi made him honorary canon of the Lviv Metropolitan Chapter.

Matychak in 1990s
In 1975 Matychak was invited by Slipyi to serve as a professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome. He subsequently returned to England and served as a missionary to ‘patriarchal’ communities: Holy Protectress, Halifax (1975–1987); and Sacred Heart, Wolverhampton from 1987, where he finished the construction of a new church dedicated to Saints Volodymyr and Olha. Patriarch Yosyf (Slipyi) elevated him to the rank of mitred archpriest in June 1981. In 1989, he welcomed the new apostolic exarch for Britain, Bishop Michael Kuchmiak, CSsR, in a solemn pastoral visitation to the new church. 

Mykola Matychak died on 17 March 2000 in Wolverhampton. Funeral Parastas was sung on 30 March at the church he had completed. On the following day, his former comrade-in-arms, Bishop Kuchmiak presided over the Funeral Divine Liturgy. According to his family’s wishes, he was buried in Zymna Voda, Ukraine.