8.15 Addenda [Uniate persecution, Berislavsky]

No 8 : 30 June 1969

In No. 7 of the Chronicle there was a report about new persecutions of Uniate priests [see 7.5]. Now the Chronicle is in a position to give the following clarifications and additional information on this subject.

On l8 October 1968 searches were carried out at the homes of ten priests of the former Lvov Greek-Catholic metropolitan see, including Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky, the priests Petro Horodetsky, Mikola Ovsyanko, [Ihnaty] Tsegelsky, [Ivan] Lopadchak, [Fylymon] Kurchava, [Mykola] Deyneka, [V.] Sternyuk and others. Ritual objects (chalices, crosses, vestments and Holy Sacraments) as well as religious books, cameras, tape-recorders and money, were taken away.

At the same time one of the priests, Petro Horodetsky, was arrested and charged under Articles 187-1 and 138 of the Ukrainian SSR Criminal Code, i.e. propagation of deliberate fabrications which discredit the Soviet State and social system, and violation of the laws concerning the separation of Church and State. The investigation of his case was completed in April, and now the trial is awaited.

At the end of 1968 the aged Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky was arrested in Kolomiya. At present rumours have spread to the effect that he has died in prison, but there is no official confirmation of this.

All over West Ukraine in the spring of 1969 dozens of searches were carried out among Greek-Catholic priests, and also in flats where former nuns were living. Again ritual objects, books, etc., were taken away.

In 1968 in Pochaev there was a meeting of West Ukrainian Orthodox priests – mainly those priests who went over to Orthodoxy under pressure in 1946. Some priests at the meeting complained that they were being interfered with by Greek-Catholic priests who had not accepted Orthodoxy, and that these priests were carrying on their religious activities underground; Metropolitan Filaret gave the Orthodox priests instructions to spy on the Uniates and report on them. He promised to appeal to the Party and the government and personally to the First Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Shelest, and request him to put an end to the activities of the Greek-Catholic priests.

As the Uniates affirm, referring to information received from Orthodox priests, court and Procuracy officials have been instructed to put a stop to the activities of the Greek Catholic Church using all possible means in the course of a year – in time for the centenary of V. I. Lenin’s birth [in April 1970].  It looks as if this was the reason behind the arrests and widespread searches.

*

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berislavky, arrested in Kiev when he made an unsuccessful attempt to burn himself to death, was sentenced on 28 May to two and a half years in strict-regime camps under Article 62 of the UkSSR Criminal Code. The case was heard in closed session.