Wednesday 28 September 2011

The Holy See and the Holodomor

You are cordially invited to attend a reception and book launch

The Holy See and the Holodomor
Documents from the Vatican Secret Archives on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine.

by Reverend Dr. Athanasius McVay and Professor Lubomyr Luciuk

Centro Russia Ecumenica (Borgo Pio 141, Rome)
Wednesday, 26 October 2011, 5:30 pm

Sponsored by the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto and The Kashtan Press.

Order here:

On the event:

Wednesday 24 August 2011

The Greek-Catholic Bishops and Ukrainian Independence: 1918

The Austrian Emperor Karl, when he still possessed legitimate power over the nationalities of Austria, promulgated an imperial manifesto to all the peoples of Austria on 17 October 1918, granting them the right to form their own separate national states. Our Ukrainian people of Eastern Galicia immediately called a national assembly on 19 October in Lviv. There, representatives of the whole nation and all its classes, in the presence of its three bishops (Metropolitan Sheptytsky, Bishop Khomyshyn, and myself), voted and proclaimed Eastern Galicia to be its own national, independent state under the name of “The Western Ukrainian Republic”.

After the promulgation of the imperial manifesto, all the nationalities of old Austria did the same. The Germans of Austria founded the Austrian-German Republic and their bishops immediately conformed to the new situation. This manner of proceeding of the German-Austrian bishops corresponded perfectly to the intentions of the Holy Father.

But Generals Haller and Iwaszkiewicz came and with the bayonet brought Eastern Galicia within the confines of Poland. When Metropolitan Sheptytsky, questioned on this, said that the proclamation of the Ukrainian National Assembly was a legitimate juridical act, he was accused of high treason.

— Blessed Josaphat Josyf Kotsylovsky, Bishop of Przemyśl (Peremyshl), to Nuncio Lorenzo Lauri, 10 December 1922.

Thursday 12 May 2011

Audiences of Pius XI with Cardinal Pacelli

Last year, the Vatican Archives published the first volume of the minutes of the papal audiences (fogli d'udienza) granted by Pope Pius XI (Achille Ratti) to his second Secretary of State, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who was to succeed him in the papacy in 1939 as Pius XII. Pacelli served as an official in the papal Secretariat of State from 1904 to 1917, when he was named apostolic nuncio to Bavaria. After an agreement with the German state was reached in 1920, Pacelli was transferred to the newly-created nunciature of Berlin. In 1929 Pius XI summoned him to Rome to receive the cardinal's hat and the following year he was named to replace Cardinal Pietro Gasparri as Secretary of State, more or less the equivalent of a papal prime minister.
Each day the Pope received in audience one or more heads of his curial departments or their second-in-command, but the cardinal secretary of state was received daily and sometimes even on Sunday. Eugenio Pacelli imposed his own style and regimen on His Holiness' Secretariat of State. In the Vatican Archives and other archives of the Apostolic See, audience minutes were usually filed together with the matter to which they pertained. But Pacelli ordered that, after his subalterns had executed the Pope's decisions, the minutes were to be returned to his office where they were retained for reference. Even after Pacelli became Pope in March 1939, he retained the minutes of the audiences with his predecessor. After his death in 1958, they were returned to the archives of the Sacred Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (AES- Affari Ecclesiastici Straordinari), an affiliate of the Secretariat of State that dealt with matters in which civil governments were involved.
The minutes themselves are written in Cardinal Pacelli's clear and meticulous hand, on small sheets of paper. Each has the date of the audience at the top centre of the page and each issue has a topic heading, usually indented, followed by Pacelli's account of Pius XI's decision. Pacelli often took dictation, reporting the Pope's very own words on a given subject. Many of these quotations reveal the spontaneous reaction of the typically irascible Pius XI.
Pope John Paul II declassified the first series of documents from Pius XI's pontificate (1922-1939) and Pope Benedict XVI extended this permission to most of the archival collections of the Apostolic See. In 2010, the Vatican Secret Archives published the first volume of the Pius XI-Pacelli audience minutes in its Collectanea Archivi Vaticani series, for the audiences of 1930, Pacelli's first year as papal secretary. The volume contains three important introductory articles by the archives' prefect, Bishop Sergio Pagano, it's vice-prefect, Jesuit Father Marcel Chappin, and the expert scholar, Dr. Giovanni Coco. Coco's biographical article on Pacelli's first year as Secretary of State represents the most important and accurate work on that topic to date. Among other things, with highly intuitive historical analysis, Coco chronicles the transition of power between Gasparri and Pacelli. Following the three articles, the text of the minutes proper is enriched with a rigorous historical apparatus, for instance, copious footnotes which provide background information pertaining to the persons and issues mentioned. Cross references and exhaustive quotations are also provided from correspondence mentioned but not explained in the audience minutes. This publication also contains several useful appendices including short biographies of persons mentioned in the minutes. The Vatican Archives is preparing to publish a volume each year of the audience minutes from 1931-1939.
I was fortunate enough to acquire an autographed copy of the first volume of the fogli d'udienza earlier this year. However, this morning I had a opportunity to consult the original minutes, written in Pacelli's hand, for the years 1933-1934. They are found in the AES archives, which was relocated from the Vatican Secret Archives to the Secretariat of State in December 2010. I did not find the particular reference for which I was searching, but I did stumble upon other interesting issues.
Below is a sample of the minutes from three particular audiences. These excerpts yield a glimpse of the mind of Pius XI on certain political and ecclesiastical issues of the day. His reluctance to see Göbbels certainly reflects an unease towards the emerging regime in Germany.
Papa Ratti's views were coloured by his personal experience in Poland, where he had served as apostolic visitor and nuncio (1918-1921). His 'explosion' about the Pro Russia commission was provoked by Government and ecclesiastical opposition to his Byzantine-Catholic evangelization program. Notably, Marshall Piłsudski refused to permit the creation of two Byzantine-Rite bishoprics:

Audience of 14 March 1933. Possible nomination of an auxiliary Bishop for the Lemkos. Write the nuncio to examine the issue objectively and not to trust one or the other side, since statistics are often false.

Audience of 25 March 1933. Pastoral Letter of the Bishop of Podlachia. On page 23 [he says that] the Pro Russia Commission is useless here [in Poland]. [Pius XI to Pacelli]: And You also know where the opposition is coming from (it’s the Government which even Bishops and priests are colluding with. ... These Poles think only of Polonizing and Latinizing. They don’t want to understand anything. ... Even the Bishop of Podlachia is a Pole and a chauvinist.

Audience of 13 May 1933. Possible Audience for Minister Göbbels (See the report from the Nunciature of Berlin No. 7801). The Holy Father regrets that he is unable to receive him.

Friday 25 March 2011

Making History - The Election of Sviatoslav Shevchuk

On 23 March, the Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church made history by electing 40-year-old Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk as Major-Archbishop (patriarch). The Apostolic See of Rome confirmed the election two days later, on the Feast of the Annunciation according to the Gregorian Calendar.
The choice of Kyr Shevchuk harkens back to that of Josyf Slipyj, Metropolitan Sheptytsky's chosen successor. Like Shevchuk, Slipyj was in his early forties when presented in 1937. He was also Shevchuk's predecessor as Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic seminary in Lviv. Both held doctorates in theology from Roman pontifical universities, Slipyj from the Gregorian and Shevchuk from the Angelicum. Despite their youth, both men were chosen over more experienced bishops due to their superior theological science and inspired vision. Both were secular priests who succeeded monastics: Metropolitan Sheptytsky was a Basilian and Cardinal Husar a Studite. Both Slipyj and Shevchuk were chosen over Redemptorist candidates. Pope Pius XI initially inclined to Sheptytsky's second choice, Bishop Charnetsky, and there were several prominent Redemptorist candidates at this past synod.
The similarity of Shevchuk's figure to that of his predecessor is evident in the following description by Sheptytsky, written in May 1937:
Among the priests of my diocese that I would name as distinguishing themselves by their virtue, their talents and their knowledge [...] the Rector of the Seminary and the Academy, Msgr. Joseph Slipyj. He is an initiator and an organizer, a man of wide views and of solid science, having always striven for knowledge and for the Seminary. He is little known by most of the people but the clergy esteems him much.
Hopefully Shevchuk will also make history by becoming the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. While this honour depends on Pope Benedict's personal decision, given Shevchuk's extreme youth it will probably not happen before 2013, when his immediate predecessor turns 80 and loses the right to vote in the Conclave. In addition to my conviction that our hierarchs made the best possible choice, I am personally overjoyed by this election because His Beatitude and I were born 30-days apart and were both theological students at the Angelicum from 1994 to 1995.

27 March 2011: Like his immediate predecessor, Cardinal Husar, Shevchuk is beginning to make history. Today he became the first Catholic primate of Kyiv-Halych:
— to be enthroned in the ancient capital of Kyiv since the Eighteenth century
— to be enthroned in the yet-incomplete Sobor (Arch-cathedral) of the Resurrection
— to have other Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and primates flanking him at the ceremony, notably Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch and Slovak Metropolitan Ján Babjak.
— to have present at his enthronement representatives from all three Orthodox Churches of Ukraine.

See also "The Church is Young" on the webpage of the Pontifical Society of St. John Chrysostom.

Monday 14 March 2011

Sheptytsky Requests a Successor

Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky to Pope Pius XI, November 1937:

I think I am obliged in conscience to ask for a coadjutor with the right of succession, and here are the arguments that compel me to this request:

The time of my death will probably be a moment of a very acute crisis, during which it will be much more difficult to select my successor than it would be in relatively peaceful times.

Our government, and more so Polish public opinion, will do their utmost to find a politician, that is a man who would more or less undertake to implement a political agenda hostile to the Union and our nation. There will always be a strong party that will want the promotion of the worst candidate for our ecclesiastical province and there will always be a candidate too weak to withstand the demands of the powerful, against whom there is no canonical reproach.

In the event that Your Holiness deigns to accept my request, I would have the opportunity to present my opinion and nothing would bind in the absolute liberty of the Apostolic See. I did and I think I can say in good conscience I can not have any other intention than the triumph of the great cause of the Union, to which I devoted my life that I would die a hundred times, and in which there is only the glory and triumph of the Apostolic See. For the salvation of the East is one of the greatest glories of the Holy See and the Pope.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Cardinal Husar's History

Lubomyr Cardinal Husar ends his Historic Mandate

His Beatitude Lubomyr Cardinal Husar's life story is a series of historical firsts. Today, 10 February 2011, another historical event occurred when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation as Major-Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (the Synod of Bishops accords him the title patriarch). This marks the first time that the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church has resigned on his own initiative. Indeed, there is no canonical provision for mandatory resignation of an Eastern Catholic patriarch or major-archbishop.
Cardinal Husar's biography includes the following historical firsts. As Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church he was the first:
– to have lived most of his life outside of Ukraine, in the United States of America and Italy. Although some of the Kyivan Metropolitans were Greek, most of his predecessors lived in Ukrainian lands;
– to have begun his ministry as a secular priest but later embraced the monastic life. Virtually all of his predecessors were members of the Basilian Order. Since 1806 all have been secular priests with the exception of Metropolitan Sheptytsky.
– to have been Archimandrite of the Studite Monks before becoming head of the Ukrainian Church. Metropolitan Sheptytsky had founded the Studites and became their first archimandrite.
– to have been a regular professor at a pontifical university in Rome. Josyf Slipyj taught very briefly at the Gregoriana in 1922;
– to have received episcopal ordination without the papal mandate (1977);
– to have had his episcopal privileges confirmed by the pope and made public almost twenty years later (1996);
– to be appointed exarch of Kyiv-Vyshorod (1996);
– to have been designated a cardinal only a month after his election as major-archbishop (2001);
– not to have received a red hat during the public concistory. Isidore of Kyiv (1440), Sylvester Sembratovych (1895) and Slipyj (1965) received the ancient gallero. Lubachivsky (1985) received a red kolpak (Greek-Catholic biretta).
– to have welcomed a Roman Pontiff to his diocese (2001);
– to become Major-Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych upon the return of the primatial see from Lviv to Kyiv (2004);
– to have participated in a papal conclave (2005);
– to have lost his eyesight during his mandate;
– to have willingly submitted his resignation to the Roman Pontiff. Josyf Sembratovych had been forced to resign in 1882.
– to be present at the installation of his successor.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Help this Research Continue

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