Sunday 27 December 2009

The Title of "Excellency" for Bishops

Throughout the ages, Catholic clergy have been styled by various titles.  The most common title is Reverendus.  In addition to the superlative degree thereof (Reverendissimus), clerical dignitaries also were styled with various secular titles such as Dominus (Lordship), Illustrissimus, and Amplitudinis (Grandeur).  Into the twentieth century, bishops continued to be addressed as Most Reverend and Illustrious Lordship, while, in the English speaking world, archbishops were  addressed, in the style of dukes, Your Grace.  Cardinals were and are styled Eminence after the highest officials of the Byzantine court, and the Pope is called Sanctitas (Holiness) or Beatissimus Pater (Most Blessed or Holy Father).

The title of Excellency is secular in origin and began to be given to civil officials such as ambassadors in the eighteenth century.  Thus apostolic nuncios (papal ambassadors) and other dignitaries of the papal court acquired the title Excellentia with the addition of Reverendissima to distinguish it from secular excellencies. Diocesan bishops began to acquire the title with greater frequency in the nineteenth century.  For example, Metropolitan Sheptytsky, who held various state offices in the Austrian Imperial system, was addressed as Excellency inside Austria but as Illustrissimus ac Reverendissimus Dominus by the Roman Curia or Amplitudo Vestra/Votre Grandeur by other clergy.

With the fall of the continental empires  at the end of the First World War, noble titles lost the universal legal force they once possessed and their use began to wane somewhat in civic circles.  The ambassadorial title of Excellency began to be attributed to bishops with greater frequency.  The solemn concordats concluded between the Apostolic See and new European regimes had force of law in both civil and ecclesiastical spheres, and granted state recognition to the Catholic Church and its structures.  Thus, following the conclusion of  the 1925 concordat with Poland, the Roman Curia began to address Polish bishops with the title of Excellency as opposed to Lordship.  Throughout the British Empire, however, the ducal style of Grace for archbishops and Lordship for bishops was recognized in civil law for Anglican hierarchs, the lords spiritual, each of which was a parliamentary peer of the realm. The same titles were used out of courtesy for Catholic bishops of the Empire.

Following the conclusion of the Concordat with Italy and the Lateran Treaty, the Holy See gained international legal recognition.  The Pope, as spiritual and temporal sovereign, was thus able to grant an internationally recognized legal title to all Catholic bishops throughout the world.  In the audience given to the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Ceremonial on 11 December 1930, Pope Pius XI decreed that, henceforth, the title of Excellentia Reverendissima (Most Reverend Excellency) was to be used to style both Latin and Oriental patriarchs, apostolic nuncios, archbishops and bishops, and certain  dignitaries of the Roman Curia.  The decree enacting this decision was issued by the Prefect, Cardinal Gennaro Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte on 31 December 1930 and was subsequently published in the Osservatore Romano issue of 24 January and on page 22 of the 1931 Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Immediately, the problem of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs arose.  As spiritual heads of their Churches they had been styled Beatitude in order to raise them above other metropolitans and bishops.  Since the mainstream Catholic theology and canon law did not yet understand the concept of Particular Churches, many Roman curialists considered the title Beatitude to be abusive, and proper only to the Roman Pontiff because it had been addressed by St. Jerome to Pope St. Damasus in 384.  Such was the tenure of the previous decree of the Ceremonial Dicastery (June 1893) and was the verdict of an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.

It appears, however, that the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Church(es) had not been consulted on the matter.  Regarding the new title of Excellency, Monsignor Amletto Cicogniani, assessor of the Oriental, sent a formal thank you to Ceremonial on 22 January 1931.  Nevertheless, only two months later, the dicastery’s head, Cardinal Luigi Sincero, brought the matter to the attention of the Pope in an audience of 14 March.  He explained that the Cardinals of the Ceremonial Congregation had ignored the preparatory studies for the codification of Oriental Canon Law which had recommended that patriarchs retain a title distinct from bishops.  Perhaps not wanting to provoke further conflicts in the other curial departments, the  Pope ordered that, henceforth, the Oriental Congregation address Eastern Catholic patriarchs as Beatitude so that “in this way, this qualification would be introduced without issuing, for the moment, a special decree.”

In January 1938, papal secretary of state Cardinal Pacelli consulted the Oriental Congregation regarding letters to be sent to the Melchite Patriarch. The drafts in question had been addressed to “His Excellency”, at which Sincero’s successor, Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, remarked: “Why withold the title Beatitude for the Melchite Patriarch?  Is it someone from the Secreteriat of State?”  Pacelli, upon becoming Pope Pius XII, would  correct this oversight definitively for with his motu proprio Cleri Sanctitati in 1957, he finally granted the title Beatitude to Eastern Catholic patriarchs by full force of the law (canon 273, 10).

Wednesday 25 November 2009

The Episcopal Conference of 1932

  The Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is scheduled to begin next week.  Before Pope John Paul II granted a synodal structure to our Church (in 1980), instead of synods the bishops held semi-annual episcopal conferences.  What follows is a translation of the opening paragraph of the decree issued by the bishops at the close of such a conference, which took place in Rome from 9-15 November 1932: 

“We the undersigned Ruthenian Bishops, congregated in this Alma Urbe [Mother Rome] express our utmost gratitude to the Supreme Pontiff for the kingly, nay magnificent Seminary building of St. Josaphat, the very building in which our Conference was held.  Besides those present, His Excellency the Metropolitan of Halych, afflicted by a grave illness, was absent from our midst, and also our bishops from America and Canada were impeded and could not come to Rome nor take part in our Conference.  Although absent, some bishops made their presence felt by telegraph and by sending delegates to the Holy Father, to the Sacred Congregation [of the Oriental Church] and also to the same Conference, for which they were deputized to cast their votes.”

The 1932 conference was significant, particularly for the drafting of a statute to be observed at all future conferences.   Following its conclusion, the Oriental Congregation asked the Apostolic Nuncio in Warsaw to comment on the Ukrainian bishops’ resolutions.  Writing to Cardinal Sincero on 22 December 1933, Nuncio Marmaggi observed that “the Conference was very occupied with matters of lesser importance, all the while leaving aside issues which should have merited the consideration of their Excellencies." The absence of Sheptytsky, their primate, might have been a factor in their inability to focus on more essential points.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Blessed of a Previous Pandemic

" I lay sick for a month with a cough and rheumatism, at the time when influenza was spreading through Canada."    

- Blessed Bishop Nykyta Budka to Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, Winnipeg, 22 November 1918.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

The 1925 Concordat with Poland

It is time to lay to rest the claim that the 1925 Concordat between Poland and the Holy See granted practical autonomy to the Greek-Catholic Church.  This claim continues to be repeated by various authors. However, if we examine the historical evidence we discover that although the concordat granted legal status to the Greek-Catholic Church in interwar Poland, it also deprived it of several rights and freedoms.

Following the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, nation states in the nineteenth century delineated their rights and responsibilities by written constitutions.  After the First World War, the Catholic Church negotiated written concordats with the new states, each of which also sought diplomatic recognition for itself.  In this historical context, the Holy See considered the concordat arrangement to be the best way to secure the Church’s independence and to establish a working relationship with new regimes.

Several years of preparation went into the Concordat with Poland.  The first soundings for this treaty came in July 1918 from the Regency Government of Austro-German-occupied Poland. However, negotiations had to be put on hold due to the fall of the Regency that November.  Its successor regime, the Second Republic, appeared to be unstable so the Vatican waited to see if a durable government would emerge with which it could negotiate a lasting agreement.

The Holy See began negotiations with the Polish government in 1919 but ran into opposition from a group of Polish bishops (Teodorowicz, Sapieha, and Dalbor) which wanted to negotiate directly with the government.  A compromise was reached whereby members of the Polish episcopate and religious superiors were appointed to negotiate a draft text with government representatives.  The Polish parliament adopted a federal constitution on 21 March 1921, article 114 of which stated that “relations between the state and the Church will be fixed based on an agreement with the Holy See, which must be ratified by parliament”. 

Historically, Poland is looked upon as a bastion of Catholicism but the government of the interwar Second Republic often pursued policies detrimental to the Catholic Church. Many of its politicians, who were ostensibly Catholics, had been educated in the liberal or Josephist ideologies of Austria and Germany.  They made sure that Catholicism was not declared the official religion in the March Constitution, but merely the religion of the majority.  They also sought to reproduce in the concordat, clauses favourable to the type of state interference that had existed during the previous imperial regimes.  They were surprised that the Apostolic See was reluctant to give their ostensibly Catholic state the rights which had been previously accorded to the Lutheran kaiser and the Orthodox tsar. 

It is interesting to examine the Greek-Catholics’ issues that were discussed in the concordat negotiations and how much initiative Vatican representatives took to ensure the protection of Greek-Catholic rights. The Russian regime had confiscated a large  number of churches and large portions of revenue-producing lands, especially those belonging to Eastern Catholics.  When he was nuncio in Poland, Pope Pius XI had appointed two Greek-Catholic representatives to a committee charged with drafting a proposal for the parceling of church properties.  Perhaps the most intricate question, the land reform issue, took years to negotiate, further  prolonged by the frequent changing of governments, each with  its own views  on the issue. Finally, in 1924, a draft concordat was agreed upon by church and state delegates in Poland, following which the government sent its envoy, Stanislas Grabski, to Rome to make the final negotiations with Monsignor Francesco Borgongini Duca of the Holy See. 

Before the Vatican negotiations began, Francesco Marmaggi, the apostolic nuncio to Poland, sent the draft text to both Latin and Greek-Catholic bishops and major superiors, asking for their comments and concerns.  The Ukrainian bishops expressed two principal concerns.  The first pertained to government interference in church appointments.  The bishops proposed that the church be freed of any interference in these matters, and that bishops be appointed directly by the Pope.  The second concern  related to the Eastern Catholic faithful residing in the Kholm, Pidlasia and Volyn regions. Eastern Catholic eparchies had been forcibly supressed in these regions by the Russian Empire, and the Polish regime had not permitted them to be restored, hoping that the Eastern faithful would thus come to adopt the Latin Rite. 

Bishop Przezdziecki of Lutsk pointed out that the first draft of the constutition had not mentioned the Eastern Rites, except in the context of their obligations towards the state.  He suggested that more emphasis be placed on the equality of all rites of the Catholic Church.  Przezdziecki was also concerned that the Eastern Catholics in the former uniate eparchies not be deprived of any pastoral care, as the first draft of the concordat text seemed to imply by prohibiting Greek-Catholic bishops from exercising jurisdiction outside their eparchies. His solution was for the Latin bishops of those regions to coordinate the Eastern Rite missions outside of Galicia.

Marmaggi's report to the Vatican took into account this feedback from the episcopate, giving special concern to the Greek-Catholic issues. All of his suggestions were incorporated into the Vatican’s proposals during the first phase of negotiations. These took place at the Vatican over 17 sessions between 1 October and 5 November 1924.  The Holy See was able to obtain concessions for Greek-Catholics but in some cases the government imposed restrictions.  Let us look at some of the details in the Articles of the proposed Concordat.  This will reveal where concessions by the Polish Government to the Greek Catholic Rites were sought, and where restrictions against the latter were still to continue in force. 

Article 1  was changed to read:  “The Catholic Church in all its rites will enjoy complete liberty”. Article 9 stipulated that diocesan boundaries had to be readjusted so that no bishop outside Poland had jurisdiction within the republic and that religious superiors had to be Polish citizens.  Article 11,  while stating in principal that episcopal appointments were the prerogative of the Holy See, nevertheless conceded a veto to the president of the Republic for any candidate considered politically dangerous to Poland’s interests. Article 12 enjoined that all bishops would swear before the President an oath of allegiance to the Republic.  Although Article 13 required the use of the Polish language, Grabski  promised that the government would also ensure education in the mother tongue for elementary schools.  Article 14 protected Church property from state expropriation. Article 18 stated that Oriental Catholics outside their diocesan boundaries would be placed under the jurisdiction of Latin ordinaries, a restriction that brought some debate before being included.  Article 19 stated that those dangerous to security be excluded from parochial benefices. A clause was added that, if the government did not present objections within a 30 day period, the church could proceed with parochial nominations.  Article 20 mandated that conflicts between the government and the church over appointments had to be resolved within 3 months, after which the matter would go before a commission..  To article 22, on the use of the Polish language, the Holy See added the words “in the latin rite”, so as to avoid the government mixing into Greek-Catholic affairs. 

The nuncio sent these negotiated wordings to certain bishops and clergy in Poland for comments. A second set of 8 sessions of negotiations began on 5 January and ended 2 February, 1925.  During these sessions, changes to the text included the following: In Article 2, the Holy See insisted on emphasising the complete freedom for clerics to communicate with Rome and the freedom from government censure of episcopal letters (government officials had blocked Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s pastoral letter in 1923 and would do so again in 1938).  The Holy See had been asking for the Peremysl Eparchy to be divided in two.  In this regard, Grabski signed a secret note to article 9, promising that after parliamentary ratification of the concordat one Greek and one Latin diocese would be established in Galicia.  (These promises were never fulfilled).  A comment on article 12 stated that any further concessions for the Greek-Catholic bishops regarding the oath of allegiance to the republic could not be obtained.  At the last session on 5 February, an agreement was reached on article 18 regarding Latin patronage appointments.  Cardinal Dalbor’s proposal was accepted whereby the patron of the benefice or parish had to choose one of three candidates selected by the bishop.  Despite flexibility towards the Latin Church, the Government refused to concede any liberty on this point to the Greek-Catholics.

Bishop Szelazek had been sent to Rome as a delegate of the Polish episcopate, to assist in the final negotiations.  He wrote several letters to Nuncio Marmaggi, informing him of the final phases of the work.  Szelazek stated that the last days of talks had been very difficult and he was in great fear of the outcome. He nevertheless believed that the Holy See had obtained all possible concessions from the government.  While 2 February had been scheduled as the last session, Vatican representatives insisted on returning to the table, to further negotiate “grave issues”.  Interestingly, at the very last minute (6 February), Nuncio Marmaggi asked Szelazek to lobby for the division of the Peremysl Eparchy and submitted information regarding state persecution of Ukrainian schoolteachers. These interventions did not enter into the discussion, which were concluded on 8 February.  The final draft was signed by both parties on 10 February in the evening.  Following a single-session examination by a commission of cardinals, Pope Pius XI promulgated the concordat on 18t February. As had been stipulated in the Polish Constitution, the agreement was put before parliament, which duly ratified it on 23 April 1925.  The Concordat between the Holy See and Poland entered into effect as church and civil law on 3 August 1925.

Those authors who claim that the concordat granted autonomy to the Greek Catholic Church are likely following quasi-official publications which came out shortly after the ratification of the treaty.  Monsignor Olexander Bachynsky was probably asked by Metropolitan Sheptytsky to publish an officially positive pamphlet entitled “Konkordat”.  Bachynsky noted, among other things, that the state recognized the equality of all Catholics without distinction of rites, the state is not competent in Church affairs, and the Church had the right to govern its own internal affairs. 

Despite such publications, the Ukrainian reaction to the concordat was not favourable.  Even the nuncio noted that: “The Ruthenian Catholics are not satisfied with their situation resulting from the recent Concordat.”  In July 1925, the head of the ZUNR in exile, Jevhen Petrushevych, wrote to the Holy See protesting the subjugation of the Ukrainians in Poland.  Father Let Gillet also noted Ukrainian discontent in his journal entry of 26 August 1925.

The concordat had immediate repercussions for the Greek-Catholic Church.  First, all the bishops had to swear an oath of loyalty to the Polish state and abandon any official support for a Ukrainian separatist movement.  The liturgical prayers for the head of state in the Liturgy were modifed. In the first issue of his diocesan bulletin for 1926, Metropolitan Sheptytsky decreed: “In virtue of Article VIII of the Concordat of the Holy Apostolic See with the Republic of Poland and the decision of the Polish episcopate in Warsaw (1925), it is prescribed that, in future, on all Sundays and on 3 May, during the Holy Mass, after the dismissal during the prayer “ad multos annos” which begins with the words “through their holy prayers”, leaving aside the words: “to our most faithful emperor”, after the expression: “all of our fathers and brothers”, the following words must be said: “save, O Lord, our state and its president (N.N.)”, together with the words following to the end of the prayer. In all other places in the Liturgy, only the church authorities are to be commemorated.”

Perhaps the most disappointing feature  of the concordat for the Greek-Catholic Church was  the restriction of pastoral activities to the three eparchies of Galicia (renamed Little Poland). This meant that Bishop Josyf Botsian, who had been secretly consecrated in 1914, had to refrain from the public use of his title as bishop of Lutsk because it was not recognized by the concordat.  Although there was no specific mention of this eparchy in the negotiations, it was clear that the government was unwilling to lift its moratorium on Greek-Catholic clergy ministering in the borderlands of Poland,  fearing the people in such regions region would come to support Ukrainian nationalism. 

The Ukrainian bishops had warned the Holy See that a concordat would likely be used against the Greek-Catholics by government officials because in Poland the laws were not applied equitably.  This became more and more the case in the 1930’s as Poland’s ethnic minorities began to rebel and because, in the words of Bishop Szelazek, of the government’s “tendency towards totalitarianism”.

Except for a single school, Ukrainian-language elementary education was abolished at the beginning of the 1930s's. At the end of the decade, the Ministry of Religion began to refuse consent to the appointment of certain Greek-Catholic pastors and, without providing specific charges, ordered their removal from border zones. The Nuncio drew the attention of the ministry of foreign affairs to such arbitrary procedures, which were in violation of the concordat.  In turn, the government complained that the Ukrainian clergy were openly violating the concordat’s loyalty clauses. 

The veto for residential bishops began to be used against candidates who had disagreed with the regime over any issue.  The military regime was opposed to the the Eastern-Rite missions in Poland. In 1934, the president vetoed the candidacy of Auxillary-Bishop Cieslaw Sokolowski for the vacant Sandomierz diocese, simply because his bishop had placed him in charge of the Byzantine-Rite in Podlachia.  Nuncio Marmaggi informed the government that the Holy See could not even enter into a discussion regarding the existence of the Eastern-Catholics.  When the nuncio suggested another candidate, Pius XI replied that abandoning a worthy candidate would "bring shame on the Holy See". Even after local Polish notables testified to the worthiness of Sokolowski, the foreign minister told the nuncio that questioning the president's reasons was an offense against the dignity of the head of state.  After all negotiations failed, the Nuncio was instructed simply to inform the foreign minister of that the pope had appointed an interim apostolic administrator.

By 1937, the accord between the Vatican and Warsaw had become a burden to the ruling regime's anti-Catholic and totalitarian policies.  The state moved to grant similar legal status to non-Catholic confessions which were heavily under state control.  The concordat ceased to have any legal status with the German and Soviet invasions of 1939, following which the Holy See proceeded to appoint Polish bishops without the consent of any government. Perhaps the most significant was the appointment of Josyf Slipyj, secretly named archbishop-coadjutor to Metropolitan Sheptytsky in 1939.  This elicited a protest from the government-in-exile when it was finally informed of the appointment, after the war.  However, With the establishment of a communist republic in 1945, it was in the interest of both Church and State to declare the concordat as having been voided in 1940.

Monday 21 September 2009

The Long-Awaited Complete Inventory of the Archives of the Nunciature of Vienna

The long-awaited Inventory of the of the Archives of the Nunciature of Vienna has been published (Archivio della nunziatura apostolica in Vienna, Collectanea Archivi Vaticani 64, Archivio Segreto Vaticano 2008). Over ten years in the making, this publication by Vatican archivist Croatian Father Tomislav Mrknonjić, OFM Conv. represents a work of meticulous erudition in archival science. Many such inventories deal with only a portion of a given archive, whereas Mrknonjić’s work is a catalogue of the entire collection, from 1607 until 1939/1940, the current consultable limits of the archives sources of the Apostolic See.

Previous to the release of this work, scholars had to make do with partial guides, the most recent of which were available for consultation in the Sala Indici of the Vatican Archives. The last such inventory extended only to the late 1880’s. Research of the nunciature’s contents posterior of this period had to be performed by guesswork or with the help of guidelines by scholars who had consulted beyond the indexed segments. In 2006, a skeleton-preview of Mrknonjić’s inventory was made available internally, in anticipation of the definitive publication.

The eminent scholarship of Father Tomislav is manifested in many details of the present work. In it, a meticulous description of the contents of each archival box (numbered from 1 to 904) is given, together with the titles and dates of its contents according to the original classification given by the nunciature’s archivists. Internal divisions (fascicles) of each box are indicated and each document contained therein is individually listed by its folio number, together with a brief description of its contents. The publication’s volume (910 pages) testifies to dedication and perseverence of the editor who, over the last decade, dedicated his energies to researching the history and contents of an enormous quantity of primary source material.

Tomislav Mrknonjić also merits great praise for his care and precision in reproducing the nomenclature of the various personages and places mentioned in the fonds’ correspondence. Of particular mention is his faithful transcription of Slavic terms, which often are paid less heed by western scholars. He has been careful and diligent in checking the current usage of names and places, sometimes indicating several versions, especially when the current usage differs from forms found in the archival sources themselves (for example, L’viv/ Lemberg/ Lwów/ Lvov/ Leopoli(s) or Szeptycki/ Šeptyckyj). Unlike other recent publications of comparable calibre, the transcription of Ruthenian-Ukrainian names found in this work are virtually flawless.

The particular history of the Vienna nunciature, described in the introduction to this volume, sheds light on the singular importance of its archives for both secular and church historians. The papal envoy to the (Holy Roman) emperor became a permanent legation in the sixteenth century. With the the division of the Habsburg kingdoms following the abdication of Charles V, the Imperial Court settled in the city of Vienna as did the papal legation to the emperor. This embassy or nunciature remained in place through the vicissitudes of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, at times when others had to be closed down. For example, with the final partition of Poland, the nunciature of Warsaw closed in 1796 and its archives were conveyed to the Vatican. With the fall of the Habsburg empire, the Viennese nunciature (thenceforth accredited to the Austrian Republic) transferred portions of its historical archives to the Vatican, first in 1921 and then in 1938 with the closure of the nunciature following the Anschluß (annexation of Austria). The final portion of its archives were moved there sometime after 1940.

With the suppression of the nunciature of Warsaw at the end of the eighteenth century, the Viennese nuncio took on the role of unofficial papal liaison for those Catholic communities ruled over by the Russian Tsar and the Ottoman Sultan. Thus, the Viennese archives have come to form a key primary source for material relating to the history of Ukraine and Ukrainians, both in Austrian-Galicia (from 1772) and in Russian Ukraine. In consequence, the inventory of this nunciature will serve as an indispensable research tool, not only for researchers of Austro-German and Hungarian history, but also for that of all of central and eastern Europe.

The vicissitudes of the Greek-Catholic Church are well chronicled in this nunciature’s annals, whether in the nuncios’ reports to the Holy See, in the correspondence with the nunciature of the Greek-Catholic clergy and faithful, or in the Latin clergys and civil authorities’ observations concerning the Greek-Catholics. Various topics of interest include: information pertaining to the Eparchies of Lviv, Przemyśl, Stanislaviv, Lutsk, Chełm (Kholm); the negotiations and nomination processes of Greek-Catholic bishops and church dignitaries; the internal condition and reforms of the Basilian Order and its relations with the Ruthenian-Ukrainian Church hierarchy; the conflict over the attempted introduction of the Gregorian calendar in the Stanislaviv Eparchy; the attempts by the Hungarian Government to interfere with the nomination of the Greek-Catholic bishop for the United States; news about and relations with the nascent Ukrainian state; the return of Metropolitan Sheptytsky to Lviv (via Vienna) in 1923. There is also one fascile containing reports about the nascent Ukrainian Republic's atitude towards Catholicism.

In contrast to the significant number of researchers belonging to Slavic nations such as Poland and Romania, very few Ukrainian historians are consulting the Vatican Secret Archives. Unlike the the aforementioned countries, neither the Ukrainian government nor its academic institutions offer support for such research. The single notable scholar to make prolific use of the primary sources contained in the Vatican’s numerous collections was the late Basilian Father Athanasius Welykyj. Since his death, over twenty years ago, only a handful of Ukrainian historians have made any significant use of its fonds (foremost among these is John-Paul Himka). With the publication of Tomislav Mrknonjić’s inventory, Ukrainian scholars who come to the Vatican in future, will be encouraged to access the documents of the Vienna Nunciature, which can now be accomplished with infinitely greater ease.

EVOLUTIO: As if in contradiction to my dire but accurate observations, two Ukrainians made a brief consultation of the Vatican Archives, at the end of September. Their funding, however, continues to come from North America. If Ukraine wants to stand with the rest of the world, then it needs to step up to the plate. A great nation must give more than it takes.

Monday 24 August 2009

A Witness of Faith - A Gift to Ukraine

The Greek word martyrios means witness. According to a Christian understanding, martyrs and confessors are not witnesses to anything else except to Christian Faith, Hope and Love. Although Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky did not suffer immediate death at the hands of his persecutors (he came very close), he did indeed suffer physical torture inflicted by those who opposed Christ’s Love. Sheptytsky bore witness before all people of good will, among them non-Catholics and even non-Christians. Yet, his actions were the result of a deep faith in the unique Mediation of the Saviour of mankind and of His Body the Church.

In order to reach out to all people, the metropolitan attempted to proclaim Gospel values in words that all could understand. Many times he was successful but sometimes he failed, more due to the fact that his hearers were not listening or did not understand. Foremost, Kyr Andrei's duty was to his Ukrainian Catholic flock. He understood that virtue and vice are two sides of the same coin; that the Ukrainian People had been given the gift of national awakening but sometimes, instead of being used for good, this virtue turned into chauvinistic nationalism, the typical vice of the age.

One of Sheptytsky's greatest achievements was his progress with Ukrainian national leaders and cultural notables. His patient efforts were directed, not towards their goals, but to making Christ's Teaching the inspiration for their achievements. His challenge was to draw them away from nation-worship to the worship of the God who loves all mankind.

Metropolitan Andrei's intelligent, moderate and virtuous approach was often misunderstood by nationalists of all colours. After his death, Ukrainian nationalists turned him into a mythical hero even though, during his lifetime, they sometimes clashed with him when he spoke the truth about hatred and selfishness. His opponents made him into a mythical foe but it was his own people's exaggerations that did him the most harm.

Beatification and canonization are proclamations about Christian-Catholic values found in the lives of individuals. By these two processes the Church, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, presents a person as a contemporary model, and discerns their ability to intercede for us before God. Canonization is not the same as creating a sports hero, a community hero, a mythical hero, freedom fighter or political dissident (Robin Hood, Dovbush, Shevchenko). It is about speaking the highest Truth (Istyna) which the World cannot give and often does not understand.

Like every human being, even the saints, Sheptytsky made his share of mistakes. However, speaking as someone who has performed extensive research in the various archives of the Apostolic See, I can only say that my impression, from the relative primary sources, is that he was a man of great virtue, of holiness of life, and of ecclesial (and ecclesiastical) wisdom.

It is true that Andrei Sheptytsky’s beatification has been much delayed. This delay has prompted Ukrainians worldwide to ask questions about the state of the Sheptytsky cause, but are they asking the right questions? Sometimes, it appears the metropolitan's message has not been understood by the very people that are attempting to honor his memory.

In the past, the reasons for the delay appeared to be extrinsic. Today, some question whether those now involved with Sheptytsky’s cause are being careful and diligent in their historical research? What is the quality of the sources they are presenting and, more importantly, are they addressing objections sufficiently and convincingly? Have the historical problems raised many years ago been historically resolved and have they been resolved on the level of Faith and Church teaching? These questions are simply the standard ones asked in all beatifications ad canonizations.

Some have chosen to resort to lobbying. On 13 March 2008, the Lviv Gazette launched an initiative called “Send a letter to the Pope” in an effort to prompt the beatification of Metropolitan Andrei. During a press conference held six days later, the vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Myroslav Marynovych, stated that his institution actively supports the Lviv Gazette’s initiative. He explained that such letters should be written “for one’s self, for one’s historical memory”. He also suggested that this petition represents not “a narrowly denominational act” but an ecumenical one, "the glorification of a person who belongs to Ukraine and the whole world." He also noted that that several Orthodox intellectuals were among the first to send such letters. Marynovych added that many of Sheptytsky's contemporaries, even non-Christians, regarded him as a living saint.

Few would argue with Marynovych’s sentiments which are praiseworthy in themselves. However, if we look a little below the surface, we quickly realize that the Lviv initiative and the university's explanations bypass the principle issues involved in beatification. In reality, the Supreme Authority of the Catholic Church does not beatify someone because of our subjective historical memories, nor for ecumenical reasons (at least the latter is a Christian value), nor for their philanthropic deeds. It is not enough that we consider Sheptytsky an earthly hero; the Apostolic See must also consider him a supernatural one.

Returning to the natural order, some of the reasons which the Lviv Gazette suggested to the Pope for beatifying the metropolitan include: that he founded Ukrainian national and cultural organizations and that he defended the Ukrainian nation from its enemies (that is, from fellow Polish and Russian Christians). In welcoming papal Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone to Lviv, on 24 May 2009, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi made the following declaration alluding to Sheptytsky’s beatification: "for Ukraine the creation of the state is very closely interlaced with the establishment of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the activity of Metropolitan Andrei.”

Such statements and other facts suggest that segments of Ukrainian society could be leaning towards the very nation-worship that Sheptytsky spent his life to remedy. While wholeheartedly supporting every Ukrainian cultural and national aspiration, Kyr Andrei warned his people not to instrumentalize religion for secular motives or, worse still, attempt to use it as a weapon against others. Ukrainians today need to recognize that, just as in Sheptytsky's own lifetime, lobbying for him, when not rooted and grounded in Catholic Christian values, will do harm instead of good.

So what should be done to promote Sheptytsky’s beatification? Should we stop talking about his national and cultural activities? Certainly not, for continuing to examine his life and work from an historical perspective, organizing conferences, calling for articles and books, all these are all helpful to his cause. What is more urgent, however, is a miracle attributed to the Servant of God’s intervention. Instead of sending letters to the Pope about Sheptytsky's civic achievements, a prayer crusade should be launched. For without the required miracle, all of the signatures, petitions and even the historical analyses will be useless. Beatification is about God’s Grace touching our lives through the example and intercession of an individual, and Grace comes only through prayer. This is why Metropolitan Andrei’s glorification will only result from a consensus of prayer and of righteous deeds.

Let all Ukrainians, including churchmen, artists, intellectuals, professionals, civic leaders and politicians set an example by praying humbly before the Almighty Lord of Lords, and publicly before our people, promising to strive to acquire the virtues and moral integrity that correspond to the abundant cultural riches which God has bestowed upon our Nation spread accross the globe. Let us ask these things through the intercession of the great Servant of God Andrei Roman Aleksander Marya Sheptytsky, that the Lord would glorify his person so that we might follow his teaching.

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 full article is available in Logos (vol. 50, 2009).

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The First Ukrainian Catholic School in Winnipeg

According to Recently Discovered Archival Sources

in Progress Ukrainian Catholic News, n. 15/2617 (23 August 2009). p. 7.

While doing research on Blessed Nykyta Budka, I discovered some interesting pieces of correspondence in the Vatican Archives pertaining to St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek-Catholic School in Winnipeg, known today as Immaculate Heart of Mary School. The letters in question, English translations of which are produced in this brief history, contain hitherto unknown details relating to the construction of the first school.

At the time St. Nicholas School was founded in 1905, some fourteen years after the arrival of the first Ukrainian immigrants to Canada, there were already five thousand Ukrainians living in the city of Winnipeg. Sometimes referred to as Ruthenians or Galicians, our Ukrainian ancestors came from what was then Austrian Galicia, which is part of present-day Western Ukraine. Although virtually all of these immigrants belonged to the Greek-Catholic Church, without priests or churches of their own they were obliged, initially, to attend Immaculate Conception and later Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church.

At first, the Roman Catholic clergy had attempted to integrate the Ukrainian settlers into the local Latin-Rite parishes. Observing, however, that their spiritual needs were not being met, the Latin bishops, led by Archbishop Adélard Langevin of St. Boniface, requested Ukrainian Greek-Catholic clergy be sent from Austrian Galicia. In 1899 an itinerant missionary, Father John-Damascene Polivka (of Bohemian-Slovak origin), had founded a religious community in Winnipeg named after St. Nicholas. In two years this fledgling congregation raised enough money to build a tiny chapel on land they had purchased. Unfortunately, the church had neither resident clergy nor religious instructors. Various Orthodox and Protestant missionaries offered worship and education, in an effort to entice the Greek-Catholics to join their congregations and to abandon their Catholic Faith.

Eventually, in 1902, three Basilian Fathers and four Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate arrived in Canada and settled in Beaver Lake, near the present-day town of Mundare, Alberta. On 10 May 1903, less than a year later (and two months after having preached a mission in Winnipeg), the mission superior, Father Platonid Filas, described their humble ambitions in a letter written to the papal delegate in Canada:

We are beginning to build a house for the religious sisters “Servants of the Blessed Virgin”, who, together with us, also came to Canada, in order to help us in this mission work, and also, if possible, to open one elementary school for the Ruthenian children.

Six months later, in November 1903, two more missionaries arrived, Fathers Matei Hura and Navkrati Kryzhanovsky. This time, they settled in Winnipeg, where Father Hura assumed the direction of the tiny St. Nicholas Church and began offering classes to the Ukrainian children. The founding of a formal school is usually dated to 1905 as its beginning was often assumed to have coincided with the arrival of the Sisters. Actually, Father Hura had already set up a makeshift school, as evidenced by letter of Archbishop Langevin to the apostolic delegate, dated 10 June 1905:

As to the children that are attending the Catholic schools, there are not more than 70 going to the free Catholic school of Saint Nicholas in Winnipeg and perhaps 25 to 30 going to Holy Ghost School in Winnipeg. [...] I myself went to Vienna, last summer 1904, in the hope of interesting the Austrian Government and the clergy of Galicia in our schools, and asking them to send us catholic teachers; they answered me that they did not have enough for the[eir own] country.

Nevertheless, help was imminent. Father Hura had already requested the Sisters Servants’ Galician superior send two sisters to serve at the Winnipeg mission. Only six days after the Latin archbishop had written the letter cited above, Sisters Athanasia Melnyk and Alexia Chykalo arrived at St. Nicholas Church and began teaching at the school.

Over the next year, the number of Ukrainian immigrants in Winnipeg continued to increase; so much so that, by December 1906, in a report to the Vatican, Archbishop Langevin listed St. Nicholas as his largest parish in the city of Winnipeg, with 700 families totaling “4000 souls”. This figure represented twenty-eight percent of the city’s total Catholic population. The present day St. Mary’s Cathedral was listed as his second largest Winnipeg parish, with 600 families totaling 3000 souls.

Published sources state that in the spring of 1906 classes were moved from a nearby hall to St. Nicholas Church basement. Three years later, the school had still not relocated to better premises, as Archbishop Langevin noted in a letter to the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Merry del Val, dated 19 January 1909:

The Basilian Fathers of Saint Nicholas Church in Winnipeg take care of over six thousand Ruthenians. The archiepiscopal Corporation has built them a church and a priest’s house with money borrowed at 6 per cent from the bank, and this religious establishment is still burdened with a heavy debt. [...] Their parochial school of Saint Nicholas in Winnipeg is staffed by Ruthenian Nuns in the basement of the church, a most unfavorable place. This fact, together with the poverty of the people who cannot contribute to the free school, are the reasons why many children go to the Public Schools. [...] Consequently, it is urgent to build a parochial school for the Ruthenian children in Winnipeg.

This “urgent situation” was brought up at a meeting of the Ukrainian clergy, held at the archbishop’s palace (l’archevêché) on 4 January 1910. At that meeting, the decision was made to construct a school building for the Ukrainians, even though the archdiocese was already burdened with many debts. Published sources stated that the funds for St. Nicholas School came from the Catholic Extension Society of Toronto. While it is true that Archbishop Langevin asked the Society to support the Ukrainians, in fact the bulk of the funds came from an unknown benefactor. As if by providence, on 27 January 1910, only three weeks after the decision to build a school, Cardinal Merry del Val wrote to the Canadian apostolic delegate that:

A pious person made an offering to the Holy Father of ten-thousand lire in favour of the Ruthenians. Wherefore, I am sending to you, for this purpose, an enclosed cheque from the Credit Lyonnais.

Apostolic Delegate Donato Sbarretti informed Archbishop Langevin of the bequest, to which Langevin replied on 9 March:

Truly the Holy Father is very good to take an interest in our dear Ruthenians and the benefactor that gave to His Holiness these two thousand dollars is generous. [...] In Winnipeg, we must build a school for the Ruthenian children.

Ten days later, on 19 March, Langevin wrote in greater detail to Archbishop Sbarretti concerning his project:

Truly it is a great encouragement and this determines me to take on the project of constructing a school for the Ruthenian Parish in Winnipeg- since only 150 children come together under the direction of one or two Ruthenian sisters in the poorly lit basement of the church of St. Nicholas. There are more than two-hundred other children that are not at any school and about a hundred good to the schools constructed by the Presbyterians or to the public schools. It means constructing a school for 400 children with room for the sisters to lodge.

With the requisite funds at hand, construction of St. Nicholas School began on 2 July 1911 and the blessing and official opening took place on 22 October. Only ten years later, this apostolate had already produced abundant fruits throughout the country. Writing from Quebec City on 1 November 1921, Metropolitan Sheptytsky shared the following observations with Bishop Papadopoulos of the Oriental Congregation:

The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate run 6 schools for young children. This Congregation of Sisters, which came from Galicia 18 years ago only 4 or 5 in number, has developed very well. They have [...] schools in Mundare, Winnipeg, Edmonton Yorkton, Ituna and Sifton. [...] Thanks to the annual collections that the Canadian bishops decided to make, for 10 years, in all the churches in Canada, and thanks to the help of the Basilian and Redemptorist Fathers and to the efforts of Bishop Budka, all the Sisters’ convents have large and beautiful schools. [Today] their number is close to 70.

The first of its kind, Saint Nicholas School continued to serve the Winnipeg Ukrainian Catholic community until 1962, when the present-day building was completed and the its name was changed to Immaculate Heart of Mary. In its centenary year of 2005, a planning project for a new school was initiated. Canadian Ukrainian Catholics are no longer burdened with the poverty that their ancestors endured, a century ago. Currently, our community is endowed with all of the human, financial, and spiritual resources required to maintain a Ukrainian Catholic school of the highest calibre. Our Faith leads us to Hope which moves us to Charity. Besides shedding light on interesting details from the past, this article can also provide material for reflection about our future.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Sylvester Sembratovych on the “The New Era”

In His Own Words Sylvester Sembratovych had been a candidate for Greek-Catholic archbishop-metropolitan of Lviv in 1869 but, the following year, his more experienced uncle Yosyf was nominated to the post. Sylvester subsequently served as auxiliary bishop from 1879, as apostolic administrator from 1882, and finally suceeded as metropolitan-archbishop from 1885 until his death in 1898. He assumed the administration of the Ruthenian [Ukrainian] primatial see following the enforced resignation of his uncle Yosyf Sembratovych, who had been judged by church and state to be too soft on Russophilism. During this period, the Catholic Church also felt itself under seige by liberal-anticlerical politicians throughout Western Europe. In this climate of heightened political and religious tension, nephew Sylvester was given the specific madate of tempering pro-Russian sympathies among the Greek-Catholic clergy and in Ruthenian society, as it was within his influence. For this purpose, he promoted a political program of détente between the two dominant nationalities in Austrian Galicia, the Poles and the Ruthenian-Ukrainians. Known as “The New Era”, the program received considerable initial support but was eventually rejected by the majority of the Ruthenian elite, who judged it to be a continuation of their age-old political subservience to the Poles. In hindsight (1923), Sembratovych’s successor, Andrei Sheptytsky, also criticized the New Era for having further alienated the Greek-Catholic Church from the Ruthenian secular leadership. Leaving aside political evaluations, nonetheless, it is historically noteworthy to examine Sembratovych’s motivations for promoting such a program, in his own words. I have recently discovered a reference to the inauguration of the New Era, in a letter written by Sylvester Sembratovych to Cardinal Simeoni, prefect of the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide, the Vatican department then in charge of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Here is a translation of the relevant passage, which maintains the original captilization: In our Parliament of the kingdom of Galicia, which is here in Leopolis, an event took place which is linked to the good of the Church and of our Ruthenian nation: that is, a program, to be followed in the future, was brought forward by the Ruthenians, which aims to resolve the difficulties that stood in the way of the friendly relations and the political development between the two nationalities in Galicia. The program was laid out thus: We Ruthenians form a nation distinct from the Poles and the Russians; 2o we faithfully retain the catholic faith and the greek-catholic rite; 3o we will remain faithful to the emperor and to the imperial Dynasty of Austria; on the foundation of these principles we intend to benefit from constitutional rights and thus to promote the development of the political, social and economic good of our nation – keeping ourselves in friendly relations with the polish nation. This program, already suggested by me and subsequently proposed in parliament by one of the Ruthenian deputies, professor of the Lviv gymnasium Romanchuk, I have made my own and strongly supported it in the same parliament, showing the highest interest in it. I would say that this program was favorably received both within parliament and outside, with the exception of those few persons from the opposition parties who are against religion and the catholic Church. Having made themselves known, they can now be more carefully evaded. Of late, this program has also been well received by the other three Ruthenian Bishops and generally by the clergy and the Ruthenian people. It was published together with an appeal to the entire Ruthenian nation to favour it and to embrace it as the only means to achieve real advantages for the same nation. The said appeal bears the signatures of all of us Bishops, of the head of the Ruthenian parliamentary Club, and of the president of the society of Ruthenian nationalists in Lviv. We decided to take this step because we believe that this is the right means not only for the good of the nation but also for holy Church. Leopolis, 17 December 1890

Friday 17 April 2009

The Questionnaire

Objective Criteria for Choosing a Bishop

A recent post on someone else’s blog has enticed me to return to a topic which I have studying for the past five years: the nominations of Greek-Catholic bishops in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In researching these processes, I have had to examine the procedural differences that occurred in the selection of each candidate. Previous articles have outlined various stages and persons consulted in the nominations of Austro-Hungarian bishops. This post focuses on particular variations in the information requested about the candidates themselves based on two versions of a key document in the selection process: the questionnaire.
Particular issues have always been considered in the selection of each bishop, pertaining to a given time, place and situation. Nonetheless, one of the relatively static elements found all these processes was the official questionnaire, of which I have discovered two versions, both produced by the Sacred Consistorial Congregation (today called the Congregation of Bishops). The first questionnaire is undated but was certainly in use at the end of the nineteenth century. The second, published by the Vatican Polyglot Press in 1913, is the product of the reforms of the Roman Curia and of the selection process to posts of responsibility during the pontificate of St. Pius X.
The first questionnaire is entitled “Notiones ac quaestiones circa qualitates quae necessarie sunt in promovendis ad Episcopale munus ac dignitatem” or in translation, “Information and questions regarding the qualities that are necessary in promoting [someone] to the episcopal office and dignity.” The document contains fourteen short questions pertaining to the name, place of origin, age, family, health, studies, sacred orders received, ecclesiastical responsibilities exercised, the leadership and administrative as well as the the moral and personal qualities which he possessed. In at least one case, during a period of intense political unrest, the question “is he alien to political factions” was added to the list by hand. This first document is very general and perhaps was too concise, as is evident from the lack of revealing information that it gleaned about a particular churchman.
During the modernist crisis, which came to a head at the beginning the pontificate of Pius X, the Roman Curia sought more revealing information about those being proposed for positions of responsibility within the Church. With this intention, a new questionnaire was produced in 1913, bearing the heading: “Interrogationes de qualitatibus eligendi ad episcopatum” or “Questions regarding the qualities of one being chosen for the episcopacy”. The new version contains several innovations, one being the division of the questions into four headings, entitled “articles”. The first article is followed by seven questions regarding the personal information on the candidate. The second article, containing nine questions, pertained to the studies, sacred orders and ecclesiastical responsibilities which the candidate had exercised. The third had six questions on the prospective bishop’s moral qualities. And the fourth, with two questions, asked the recipient to provide a general opinion as to the worthiness of the candidate and if he would be capable of administering a diocese. With twenty-four in total, the new version contained ten more questions than its predecessor.
One of the most incisive aspects of the 1913 questionnaire consists in the addition of a preliminary question (number 1) which was placed before the first article. In the original Latin, this first question reads: “Utrum testis candidatum cognoscat, a quo tempore et quomodo. Signanter dicat utrum eidem aliquo consanguinitatis vel affinitatis gradu coniunctus sit; utrum cum ipso intima amicitia, an potius aversio aliqua obtineat”, or in translation: Whether the one giving testimony knows the candidate, how he knows him and for how long, expressly stating whether he is connected to him through any consanguinity or grade of relation through marriage; whether he has an intimate friendship with him or rather an aversion of any kind.
Such candid information was not previously required and is likely the fruit of difficulties encountered during previous interrogations. Saint Pius X, who approved the additions to this questionnaire, understood well that even the most worthy testimoniary labours under human weakness and could possess an unobjective view of the person he is asked to evaluate. He might even have a personal interest in seeing a candidate elevated to or blocked from a particular office. The 1913 version made it more difficult, in good conscience, for the one providing the information to push or to block a candidate for personal reasons.
Although produced by the Consistorial Congregation, the questionnaire was also used by the Oriental Congregation, which, after its creation in 1917, took over the responsability of processing the nominations of Eastern Catholic bishops.
Following the Second Vatican Council, changes in church legislation also necessitated modifications in the selection process of bishops. For example, whereas civil governments used to have a voice in such appointments (often through the royal prerogative of presentation), today prominent Catholic laypeople, acquainted with the nominee, are asked to provide an evaluation.
Episcopal questionnaires are confidential and those who receive them are bound to keep secret both the questions and their responses. For approximately seventy years, such documents continue to remain confidential until the Pope sanctions their release. Neither document cited above is any longer confidential nor in current usage. They are part of the series released in 1985 by Pope John Paul II, who permitted the consultation of documents of the pontificates of Pius X and Benedict XV (1903 to 1922) contained in the archives of the Apostolic See. In 2006, our happily reigning Pontiff extended this consultation to include the pontificate of Pius XI (1922 to 1939).
Today, questionnaires similar to those examined here are still utilized for each prospective episcopal candidate. Once the questionnaires have been completed, the candidates’ names are short-listed to three, a list known as a ternary or terna in Latin. Based on the information gleaned from all questionnaires, the ternary lists the candidates in order of most recommended to least recommended. After clearing the candidates with the papal Secretariat of State, the Vatican department in charge of the nomination (Congregation of Bishops for Latin dioceses, Propaganda Fide for mission territories, the Oriental Congregation for Eastern Catholics) presents to the Pope the name of the person whom it judges to be the most suitable candidate, together with the names of the other candidates. The Pope may confirm their judgment, choose one of the other two names from the ternary, or even appoint someone who is not on the list. Generally, however, the department’s recommendation prevails.
Present-day Ukrainian Greek-Catholic candidates are vetted at two levels: the level of the Patriarchia or office of the Major-Archiepiscopal Curia; and the level of the Apostolic See. Both levels send out their own distinctive questionnaires. The Permanent Synod, made up of the Major-Archbishop and four elected bishop, discusses the information contained in the received responses and then presents their findings to the general Synod of Ukrainian Bishops (or vice versa?). According to the system in force, bishops in the home territory (Ukraine) are directly elected by the Ukrainian Synod and confirmed by the Supreme Pontiff. In the diaspora, however, while the Synod still presents the ternary of candidates to the Apostolic See, it is the Oriental Congregation which examines the ternary and presents its findings to the Pope, who nominates the bishop. Such a distinction in the process arises from the fact that patriarchs/major-archbishops do not hold jurisdiction outside the home country, whereas the Supreme Pontiff enjoys universal jurisdiction worldwide.
Present-day questionnaires, whether Synodal or Vatican, remain under strict secrecy, currently making it impossible to compare them with previous versions. It would be interesting, however, to know whether or not they continue to require the testimoniary to disclose whether he harbors either sentiments of friendship or of enmity towards the prospective candidate.

Monday 23 February 2009

In Memory of Father Adrian Ckuj 1970-2009


" [...] tueri tales viros deberet, nunc vero eo magis, quod tanta penuria est in omni vel honoris vel aetatis gradu, ut tam orba civitas [scil. Ecclesia] tales tutores complecti debeat."

"[...] it would be her duty to protect such men, but all the more at the present time, because so great is the dearth of such men in every official rank, and at every stage of life, that, in her destitution the State [read Church] should make the most of such guardians."

- M. Tulli Ciceronis, Epistularum ad Familiares, Liber III, XI, 3

Tuesday 3 February 2009

The Last Appointment of a Bygone Age

Blessed Josaphat Kotsylovsky’s Nomination as Bishop of Przemysl

The nomination of Father Josaphat Josyf Kotsylovsky as Greek-Catholic bishop of Przemysl (Peremyshl in Ukrainian) represented the last of a former age as it was the last in a series of historical events: the last of early-twentieth-century nominations of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic eparchs; the last nomination presented by the Habsburg emperor to the Holy See; the last Greek-Catholic nomination processed by the Vatican department De Propaganda Fide; the last appointment to the old eparchy of Przemysl; the last nomination where the ancient privileges of the Greek-Catholic primate were specifically mentioned (but not used); and, finally, the last for eighty years where a Basilian monk was named eparch in Ukrainian lands.

Josyf Kotsylovsky was born in 1876 in Pakosivka, in the Lemko region of what was then Austrian Galicia. He enjoyed a brief military career in the Austrian army, where he achieved officer’s rank. However, discerning a call to the priesthood, in 1901 he approached and was accepted as a seminarian, not for his native Przemysl eparchy, but by Bishop Hryhori Khomyshyn of the Stanislaviv eparchy. Given Kotsylovsky’s intelligence and social status (a former officer), Khomyshyn wanted to send him for superior training to the Pontifical Ruthenian College in Rome. Although the places reserved for Stanislaviv students had all been taken, Metropolitan Sheptytsky offered Kotsylovsky a scholarship which had been reserved for the seminarians of Sheptytsky’s own Lviv archeparchy. Kotsylovsky duly achieved a doctorate in philosophy in 1903 and one in Sacred Theology in 1907, following which he returned to Stanislaviv and was ordained to the priesthood on 6 October of that year.

Josyf Kotsylovsky had become a priest at a crossroads in history. At the turn of the twentieth century, the European governments were preparing for a war which resulted in political revolution throughout the continent, leading to the dissolution of continental empires, the fall of the European imperial dynasties, the creation of political and social discontent and the division of Europe into democratic and totalitarian blocs. Each of these momentous changes would be directly felt in the life of Kotsylovsky and the Ukrainian Church and Nation which he served.

Kotsylovsky’s nomination was the last of the early twentieth-century appointments of the three bishop-ordinaries (eparchs) of the Greek-Catholic eparchies of Lviv, Stanislaviv and Przemysl (Peremyshl). The first two dioceses had been filled in 1900 and 1904 respectively by Andrei Sheptytsky and Hryhori Khomyshyn. The last bishop from the previous century, Konstantyn Chekhovych of Przemysl, remained in office until the beginning of the First World War. In 1914, Russian forces invaded Austrian Galicia, occupying its capital city of Lviv and also the city of Przemysl. They immediately arrested Metropolitan Sheptytsky and exiled him to Siberian imprisonment, and Bishop Khomyshyn subsequently fled to Vienna. The only remaining Greek-Catholic bishop, the elderly Chekhovych, was mistreated by the Russian occupiers and died on 28 April 1915. From their exiles, Sheptytsky and Khomyshyn sought to have a resolute candidate appointed to head the Przemysl eparchy, especially out of fear that the Russians would take advantage of the vacancy by appointing their own candidate in a move designed to sever the union of the Ukrainian Church with Rome. Recent archival research now reveals that this was exactly what the Russian Empire intended to do.

The Roman Apostolic See shared the Ukrainian bishops’ desire for a quick appointment for Przemysl, but naming a Greek-Catholic bishops had become a complicated process. At the time, a maze of interested parties had to be heard before the matter could be decided: Officially, the appointment was negotiated between the Greek-Catholic Primate (the Lviv Metropolitan), the Austrian Emperor, and the Pope. The Metropolitan had the right of submitting a ternary of candidates, from which the Emperor had the privilege of presenting one to the Pope for him to nominate. In reality, the views of the apostolic nuncio, local Roman Catholic bishops, Vatican curial officials, Austrian government ministers, and even Ukrainian public opinion was to be considered. The process was complicated and cumbersome, which made it extremely difficult to find a single candidate who fulfilled the political and religious requirements of all parties. Despite its defects, this protocol resulted in the selection of three zealous bishops, each of whom would later give their lives for the Faith. Bishop Kotsylovsky’s was the last appointment resulting from this accord, which came to an end with the fall of the Habsburg Empire in November 1918. Following Kotsylovsky, no additional Ukrainian bishops could be named until the Holy See negotiated a replcament accord (concordat) with the new rulers of Galicia, the Second Polish Republic.

In fact, Josaphat Kotsylovsky was the last Ruthenian-Ukrainian presented by a Habsburg emperor to the Pope. Since the inception of his long reign in 1848, Franz Josef I had presented many Greek-Catholic bishops, the last two of which had been Metropolitan Sheptytsky and Bishop Khomyshyn. The selection process for the vacant see of Przemysl had actually began during Franz Josef’s reign but the old Emperor died on 21 November 1916 and the imperial parchment presenting Kotsylovsky was signed just six days later, by the new Emperor Karl. This would be the first as well as the last Greek-Catholic episcopal nomination made by the young kaiser, who himself had the unfortunate distinction of being the last emperor-king of Austria-Hungary.

Papal scrutiny of episcopal candidates was mediated through the Roman Curia, the bureaucratic arm of the Apostolic See, made up congregations which are essentially papal departments. From its founding by Pope Urban VIII in 1622, the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide was responsible for processing the nominations for Roman Catholic bishops in mission territories and for all Eastern Catholic bishops. In 1862 Blessed Pius IX created a separate department for Eastern Catholic affairs within the framework of Propaganda Fide. Kotsylovsky’s was the last Ukrainian Greek-Catholic nomination to be processed through Propaganda because only four months later, on 1 May 1917, Pope Benedict XV abolished its Eastern Affairs department and created an entirely independent body to replace it, the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church. From that time until the present day, all Ukrainian Greek-Catholic affairs, including episcopal nominations, are mediated through this office, subsequently renamed Congregation for the Oriental Churches following the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Kotsylovsky was the last bishop of the old eparchy of Peremyshl, which dated back to the twelfth century. Together with the nearby Lviv diocese, Peremyshl had the distinction of being the last of two Ruthenian eparchies to enter into union with the Apostolic See of Rome. After the suppression of the Kholm eparchy by Russia, in 1874, Lviv and Peremyshl remained the last and only two Greek-Catholic eparchies remaining in existence, until the new eparchy of Stanislaviv was created in 1885. After the post-second-world-war shift in national boundaries, much of the eparchy’s original territory lay within the Ukrainian (Soviet) Republic whereas a smaller portion, including the city of Przemysl itself, remained inside the Polish border. The Peremyshl eparchy had been suppressed by the Soviet regime in 1946 but was resurrected in 1989 in a new form, extending over a very different territory. The diocese was reestablished for the Ukrainian Catholics in eastern Poland and subsequently has became the Ukrainian metropolitan see for that country.

Before 1990, Bishop Kotsylovsky was the last eparch in present-day Ukraine to be a member of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat. From the time of the Union of Brest in 1596, until the beginning of Austrian Rule in 1772, only Basilian monks were eligible for episcopal office in the Ruthenian-Ukrainian Church. The Austrian regime favoured secular over religious clergy and, consequently, let the Basilian Order deteriorate while greatly improving the quality of the Ukrainian secular priesthood. Thenceforth, no Basilian held office until after the Order had undergone a thorough reform, which was begun by Papal decree in 1882. In 1899, Andrei Sheptytsky became the first Basilian to be nominated a bishop in over a century. The following year, when he was elevated to the metropolitan see of Lviv, Sheptytsky was to have been succeeded in Stanislaviv by his close collaborator and fellow Basilian Platonid Filas, who had been rejected as auxiliary bishop by the previous metropolitan. However, the secular clergy became alarmed that Rome was trying to restore the Basilian episcopal monopoly and, after much wrangling, a secular priest, Hryhori Khomyshyn, was selected. Subsequent to Father Filas assuming the headship of the reformed Basilians in 1904, a conflict arose between him and Sheptytsky. The divergence between both personalities and the differing outlooks of primate and provincial developed into a conflict between the Ukrainian hierarchy and the Order itself. Asa result, in 1912 Sheptytsky discouraged Filas’ candidacy as bishop for Canada. Until this day, an unwritten rule endures whereby Basilians are chosen to be bishops only for the Diaspora.

Actually, Josyf Kotsylovsky had began his ecclesiastical service as a secular priest and a protégé of Bishop Khomyshyn, who appointed him vice-rector of the Stanislaviv seminary shortly after his priestly ordination. However, Kotsylovsky too fell our of favour with his mentor and resigned the vicerectorship. After a period of soul searching, he decided to embrace the religious life. Entering the Basilian Order in 1911, after the customary noviciate trial period, he professed his first vows in 1913. If the First World War had not broken out the following August, it is unlikely that Kotsylovsky or any other Basilian would have become a bishop in the homeland.

Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s imprisonment made it difficult for him to exercise his right to present a ternary of candidates. From Kursk, Siberia, Sheptytsky wrote to the Pope suggesting several names (none of them Basilians), but, at the same time, he explicitly renounced his right to select the candidates, on that occasion. At the time, no one could predict if the metropolitan was going to be released or if he would survive his harsh captivity. It was even possible that Bishop Khomyshyn would be appointed to replace him in Lviv. In any case, as the only Greek-Catholic Bishop remaining, Khomyshyn was consulted on the replacement for Przemysl and the candidate that he again proposed (as in 1912 for Canada) was Basilian superior Filas. This time, in poor health and mindful of a possible veto by Sheptytsky, Filas was not willing to let his name stand for a fourth time. Nevertheless, while the Russian occupation of Galicia continued, Filas did accept a brief appointment as apostolic administrator for the Ukrainian Catholics scattered throughout Austria-Hungary. During this administration, he appointed his new recruit, Father Kotsylovsky, to be rector of an interim Ukrainian seminary located in Kromeriz, Moravia.

Platonid Filas might have thought that his refusal of the episcopacy would end any further talk of a candidate from his Order, but Bishop Khomyshyn had already been considering another Basilian as a second choice. After Father Kotsylovsky professed his solemn vows in the Order, in June 1916, Khomyshyn was free to present him as his new episcopal candidate. In spite of the bishop’s support, Filas, as Kotsylovsky’s superior, reacted very negatively to the candidacy. This reaction was partially the result of the provincial superior’s own negative experiences and was partially due to the fact that, as Khomyshyn’s candidate, Kotsylovsky might be rejected by Ukrainian nationalists, to whom Khomyshyn was at odds. Father Platonid was forced to relent when probed by the apostolic nuncio, who carefully scrutinized his objections, finding them to be lacking in substance. After the canonical process was completed and Kotsylovsky’s candidacy had already been approved by the Austrian government, Ukrainian parliamentarians did indeed send a communication to Rome, energetically protesting the candidacy. Calling themselves “The Ukrainian Pro-Senate”, these notables, led by future Western Ukrainian president Yevhen Petrushevych, had been brought up according to the Austrian political philosophy whereby the Church was looked upon as a temporal instrument of the state. They feared that Kotsylovsky, like his mentor Bishop Khomyshyn, would not be sympathetic towards their nationalistic designs. However, both Rome and Vienna were apprehensive about the effects of ethnic nationalism for the multi-national Catholic Habsburg Empire, and they chose to ignore the protests.

The nomination process for Peremyshl had been prolonged due to the difficulty of communications during the war. Austrian forces reoccupied the city of Przemysl on 3 June 1916, and the installation of a new Greek-Catholic bishop could now go ahead without hindrance. Metropolitan Sheptytsky, upon hearing of the appointment in his captivity, let it be known that he did not oppose Kotsylovsky, even though he had not been his first choice. The Holy See communicated their acceptance of the candidate allowing His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty to sign the waxed parchment, written in courtly Latin which, in translation, read:

MOST HOLY FATHER! By the greatly lamented death of Bishop Constantine Chekhovych, of pious memory, of Diocese of Przemysl of the greek rite, an episcopal see in Our Kingdom of Galicia, has been made vacant. Solicitous that the same see be provided with a suitable and worthy pastor, We intend to name as bishop of the very same Diocese the professed member of Order of St. Basil the Great JOSEPH KOTSYLOVSKY, a priest well educated in the sacred disciplines, who, due to his gifted soul and ingenious talents, has been commended to Us. Since the archbishop of Leopolis and metropolitan of the greek rite Andrei of the counts Sheptytsky, to whom the confirmation of the bishop of Przemysl of the greek rite pertains by law, until now has been held in captivity by the enemy host and is being prohibited from using his governing power, We believe that the provision of the mentioned episcopal see to be devolved to Your Holiness. Wherefore, We present the aforementioned JOSEPH KOTSYLOVSKY to Your Holiness for the said Diocese, imploring, with filial observance and reverent affection, that Your Holiness kindly accept this Our nomination and deign to institute the aforementioned in the episcopal see of Przemysl of the greek rite. We pray that Almighty God, protect and preserve Your Holiness and His Holy Church in all things. Given in Vienna on the twenty-eighth day of the month of November in the year of the repaired salvation one thousand nine hundred ten and six, in the first year of Our Reign. The obsequious son of Your Holiness Carolus.

The imperial presentation having been made, Pope Benedict XV nominated Kotsylovsky on 29 January 1917 and proclaimed the appointment publicly in the consistory meeting the following 22 March. That same month, Metropolitan Sheptytsky was released from his Russian captivity and bishop-elect Kotsylovsky, perhaps as a gesture of unity, asked Rome for permission to wait for the metropolitan to return to Lviv, so as to act as his principal consecrator. Permission was granted and Kotsylovsky was finally ordained bishop by Sheptytsky, assisted by Bishops Khomyshyn and Njariadi, on 23 September 1917, over two years after the see of Przemysl had become vacant.

The new eparch of Przemysl did not turn out to be the man that some churchmen and political ideologues had predicted. Despite having been critical of Sheptytsky in the past, after Kotsylovsky's episcopal ordination, the two men grew closer, for a time. The younger bishop energetically came to the defence of the older metropolitan, especially in 1923, during Sheptytsky’s arrest and internment at the hand of the Second Polish Republic. Bishop Kotsylovsky travelled to Vienna, Rome, Warsaw and finally Poznan (where the metropolitan was being held captive), in order to negotiate with the civil authorities and to inform church leaders. On 6 October 1923, it was Bishop Kotsylovsky who finally sent the much awaited telegram to both the papal Secretariat of State and the apostolic nunciature in Warsaw, informing them that: “METROPOLITAN ANDREI RETURNED HAPPILY LVIV – JOSAPHAT”. And contrary to the calculations of the Galician political idealogues, Kotsylovky became one of the Ukrainian nation’s greatest protectors, especially during the Polish-Ukrainian War and the subsequent occupation of Eastern Galicia. Like Sheptytsky, Kotsylovsky’s adament defense of his people’s rights was keenly felt in Warsaw political circles.

Although the three Ukrainian bishops each chose different ways to deal with the religious and political problems affecting their Church, the Apostolic See’s representatives repeatedly passed very positive evaluations of these “three most zealous shepherds” (Oriental Congregation to Nuncio Lauri, 13 September 1921). Writing to the Cardinal Secretary of State on 16 April 1923, the apostolic visitor to Eastern Galicia, Father Giovanni Genocchi, gave the following opinion of Sheptytsky, Khomyshyn and Josaphat Kotsylovsky: “Regarding the three Ruthenian Bishops, it is sufficient to say that the Holy See can firmly count on their Catholic Faith and on the goodness of their lives. Their personal defects are not greater than those found among us. In compensation, their piety is truly exemplary.”

Their piety and devotion to the Holy Apostolic See would serve them well as their Church and Nation was forced to endure martyrdom at the hands of Nazi and Communist regimes. Each bishop would give their lives for God’s People. Bishop Kotsylovsky was arrested by Soviet Forces on 26 June 1946 and deported to Kyiv where he died in a concentration camp on 17 November of the following year. He and Bishop Khomyshyn were both beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001, and three years later, Emperor Karl, who presented Kotsylovsky for nomination, was also raised to the altars. Let us turn to these men of a bygone age who are alive in Christ and continue to dwell among us spiritually, in the present. We ask their intercession so that the greatest among their number, Metropolitan Andrei Roman Sheptytsky, would join them in the list of those whom the Universal Church has publically proclaimed to be among the heavenly blessed, as examples and intercessors for mankind.