Thursday, 10 April 2008

"Catholicize not Latinize"

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
and the Missions of Achille Ratti and Giovanni Genocchi
According to the Archives of the Apostolic See (1918-1923)

Exerpts from the introduction of my doctoral dissertation

From its origins until after the second World War, the history of Uniate (later called Greek-Catholic) Ukrainian Church is, for a large part, characterized by the history of the relations between the Roman Apostolic See and the Ukrainian Church existing within the Polish State. This historical paradigm is especially true for the period treated in this work, which is the period comprising the missions of Achille Ratti to Poland and Giovanni Genocchi to Ukraine and Eastern-Galicia, 1918-1923. During this five-year period, vast social, political and ecclesiastical changes occurred throughout Europe, for example, the end of the multi-national empires, which had ruled Poland and Ukraine since the end of the eighteenth century. Both of these nations were thence reborn as political states, and their struggles for independence were characterized by nationalistic and religious conflicts, the outcome of which had enormous consequences not only for the nations themselves, but also for the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe.

The mission of Monsignor Achille Ratti marked the first time in over a hundred and thirty years that a permanent papal envoy had been sent to the Catholic Churches in Eastern Europe. Following upon the major political transformations at the end of the First World War, the period here studied became one of great innovation with respect to the Holy See’s relations with both old and new nations. Achille Ratti became the papal representative to and for the Catholic Church in the entire region, which included Poland, the Baltic States, Russia, and Ukraine. His mission laid the groundwork for further envoys to the region, such as the Apostolic Visitation of Father Giovanni Genocchi to Ukraine and Eastern Galicia. In treating church issues of the period, it becomes evident that nationalistic aims played a large part in causing religion and politics to become tightly intertwined. Ratti and Genocchi’s missions were dominated by the political conflict between Poland and her neighbours, which, by extension became a conflict between the Catholic Church of Poland and the Catholic Churches of other nations. Ultimately, this political-religious conflict determined the scope of action of both Ratti and Genocchi, each of whom sought to mediate between the conflicting parties and to enegretically intervene on behalf of the persecuted Greek-Catholic Church. After his election as Pope in 1922, Ratti retained Genocchi as a mediator for Ukrainian affairs, sending him back to Poland, in 1923, in order to complete the second part of his mission, to Eastern Galicia.

The originality and contribution of my work lies in its examination of the views and actions of the Apostolic See and its envoys in their relationship with the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church; this work being based principally on a systematic examination of each individual piece of the relevant correspondence contained in the various archives of the Apostolic See. These include: the Archives of the Nunciatures of Warsaw, Vienna and Canada; the Archives of the Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Archives of the Secretariat of State; and the Archives of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. I also included material from the General and Canadian-Provincial Archives of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat and from and the Archives of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface, Canada.

The dissertation has been produced under the auspices of the first Catholic faculty of Church History [at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome]. Consistent with the principles of this faculty, mine is a work of ecclesiastical history rather than of the theology of history. An historian does not attempt to make moral judgments but rather endevours to discover, understand, and interpret the historical facts in the context of the historical period. Accordingly, this work does seeks to convey the judgments of the representatives of the Roman Curia, the papal envoys and others, upon which the Apostolic See based its policy and actions toward the Churches and States in the region. Indeed, the title of this work, a quotation from Achille Ratti’s correspondence with the Polish hierarchy, is the central theme and also a bone of contention of Vatican policy: “to catholize not to latinize”. Hopefully, my work will serve to guide further related research and that it also will help clarify issues which have been hitherto unclear or erroneously interpreted, due to non-availability of relevant primary source materials.


Josephus Flavius said...

Is the dissertation completed? I'd very much like to read it as it is both interesting and timely.

Rev. Dr. Athanasius D. McVay, HED said...

It is in the editing process, in preparation for publication. The subject(s) is/are not at all new but the archival research is.

Milla said...

I would like to know the same thing as Mr. Flavius. Has your dissertation been published already?

We actually met in ASV, but did not have enough time to talk about our researches.

With best wishes, Milla