Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Storm clouds in the Ukraine
The neocons at First Things rev up anti-Russianism. They have a point or two but I get the drift. (‘We miss the Cold War’? ‘We wish we were National Review in its glory days’? ‘Us and Santo Subito versus the commies’?)

First valid point: as a libertarian believer in religious liberty (I’m a ‘secular liberal’) I like the interfaith service before the presidential inauguration too.

That said: most of the Ukraine is Russian including Russian-speaking and most churchgoers, a minority in a secularised country, are... Russian Orthodox.
One of three contending Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine.
Bias alert! That’s like saying Rome, Utrecht and that woman in Italy ordained by vagantes recently are in ‘contending Roman Catholic jurisdictions in Western Europe’. Not so much. The Russian Orthodox Church is the Ukraine’s Orthodox church. The others left the Orthodox communion. Still ‘in the family’ so to speak (the Eastern word for that is ‘parasynagogue’, which makes it sound like the Haredim are up to something) but technically not part of the Orthodox Church. Just like Roman Catholic in my blog means truly under Rome.
The Russian Orthodox Church is making a tacit claim to spiritual jurisdiction in Ukraine.
Cue ‘Song of the Volga Boatman’ evil-empire music.

It has an explicit and, according to its polity, legitimate claim to that jurisdiction... over the Orthodox there.
The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine, Byzantine in liturgy and polity but in full communion with Rome since the 1596 Union of Brest, was the repository of Ukrainian national identity and aspiration throughout the Soviet period.
Yes but:

To be fair, the Greek Catholic Church once included much of the Ukraine and Byelorussia besides, and tsarist Russian expansion into those lands and persecution ended that, but that was centuries ago. The home of Ukrainian Greek Catholicism, the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian nationalism is old Galicia (where Lemberg/Lvov is), the present-day Ukraine’s south-western corner, which from the 1300s until Soviet conquest in WWII was part of Poland.
Knowing this, Stalin used his control over the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow to attempt a canonical liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine. In the so-called L’viv Sobor of 1946, “representatives” of the Greek Catholic Church (under the watchful eye of the secret police) dissolved the Union of Brest and placed themselves under the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow... Those who did not became members of the largest illegal religious body in the world. From 1946 until 1991, the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine lived underground: clandestinely worshipping in the woods, clandestinely training and ordaining clergy, with most of its hierarchy dying martyrs’ death in the camps of the Gulag or by outright execution.
True. The UGCC was heroic, a working model of how a traditional Catholic church can survive decades of persecution in a modern including urban setting.

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