Jan 31

The Church and the Anti-Government Protests in Ukraine II

Today, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church issued a long letter (in Ukrainian) explaining their attitude towards continuing protests in Kiev and various provincial capitals. The bishops deplore “manifestations of violence, oppression and harassment of peaceful demonstrators by the security agencies” and “condemn any bloodshed and any form of violence”, while adhering to “the right to peaceful protest”. A few days ago, professor Heleen Zorgdrager (Free University in Amsterdam) returned from EuroMaidan in Kiev. She wrote an article for Het Fries Dagblad and gave some interesting details about the role of religion in the protest: article in Dutch. (The picture above shows Lutheran minister Ralf Haska, who several times prevented clashes between protesters and police officers. See: Revolution and Religion: 12 best images from Euromaidan.)

Jan 29

Quo vadis, Europa? – Quo imus? – Where are we going in Europe?

As a strong supporters and defender of the European Union I am feeling more and more embarrassed with this monster with 28 dragon heads.
Christians have remained loyal supporters and so have I, not so much because of what Europe actually is, but rather because of what Europe could (have) become: a conglomerate of states loosely sharing more or less the same ideals, an example to the world of how century old conflict was put to rest and a union ready to stand up for its rights and for those of others. Continue reading

Dec 30

The Church and the Anti-Government Protests in Ukraine I

‘Ukraine is Europe!’ demonstrators sing by tens of thousands on Independence Square in Kyiv. Since 21 November, they have been protesting their government’s failure to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. All the main Churches of Ukraine joined in the protest with the exception of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager, assistant professor of the Free University of Amsterdam, recently wrote an article about the way in which the Churches give spiritual support to the demonstrators. Unfortunately, this article is only available in Dutch.

May 20

Difficult Reconciliation

Recently, Roman and Greek Catholic bishops have been discussing reconciliation between Poles and Ukrainians, but on 14 May 2013, less than a week after the reconciliation project was announced, it fell apart. Continue reading

Apr 17

“On Germany”

Reconciliation is a familiar theme to the various regions of Europe, where a past of extremely violent conflict still very much determines the outlook on other peoples and other nations. And reconciliation is a complicated theme for religious and less religious people alike, there is no need to explain things in great detail. This is not only true for the Balkan or Eastern Europe. Fifty years of German-French reconciliation ends in an “Aesthetic ruin park”, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently wrote. On 8 April 2013, F.A.Z. explained to its readers, how the exhibition “De l’Allemagne, 1800-1939. German Thought and Painting, from Friedrich to Beckmann” (Louvre, 28 March-24 June 2013) had caused outrage. Marking the 50th anniversary of the French-German reconciliation, the Paris exhibition is now subject of growing German-French controversy. Continue reading

Mar 12

Church Fiction

The library of Communicantes contains a nice collection of books, many of which date back to the Cold War era. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they became obsolete and started a new life as historical source. Recently, however, I came across an interesting 1983 publication by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate: The Lvov Church Council. Although it deals with a church council in 1946, the book hadn’t lost much of its relevance. Back then, seventy-odd years ago, it was decided to unite the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which was loyal to the Pope of Rome since 1596, with the Russian Orthodox Church. In Greek Catholic circles this church meeting was dubbed ‘pseudo-council’, because it was not a spontaneous popular initiative at all, but a well-orchestrated KGB-secret service operation, instigated by the communist leadership in Moscow. Continue reading

Feb 02

Holocaust 1: Half-Truth or Open Lie

Last Summer in Lviv, by chance, I ran into Marco Carynnyk, a Canadian citizen of Ukrainian descent. Marco and I, we quickly discovered, share a common interest: the holocaust in Eastern Europe. A while ago he send me his very interesting article “Foes of our rebirth: Ukrainian nationalist discussions about Jews, 1929-1947” (read abstract). I was surprised. Actually, Marco Carynnyk is one of the few nationals or emigrants from Eastern Europe I have met or read, who study the recent history of their forefathers without embellishments or excuses. Continue reading

Sep 11

Sources to the Pope Pius XII Controversy 2

How to proceed? To better understand the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards the holocaust, I will work in two directions. First, I will explore source material, and present useful, sometimes controversial books and articles. Here it is important not to go into too great detail, but to see what the discussion is about. Second, I will examine one or two historical episodes in depth. The readers of this blog can then see how sometimes well established scholars come to rather shallow conclusions, get carried away by the desire to point a finger at the Church, or, on the contrary, how overzealous defenders of the Church stretch the truth. I will start with the events surrounding the deportation of the Jews from Slovakia in March 1942. By the way, at a later stage, the focus will switch to the Church during the years of communist dictatorship as well. Continue reading

Sep 10

Sources to the Pope Pius XII Controversy

Provided you know English, German, French, Italian and Latin well enough, the Actes et documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la seconde guerre mondiale, vol. 1-11, P. Blet, R.A. Graham, A. Martini and B. Schneider (eds), Vatican City, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1965–1981 will be of invaluable help in understanding the predicament of the wartime Roman Catholic Church. But whether this source can help to explain the much debated “silence of Pope Pius XII” before the holocaust is yet another question. Meanwhile, the ADDS are available in PDF format at the Vatican website. They mainly contain correspondence between the Holy See and Vatican diplomats and local church hierarchs. Continue reading