The Byzantine Catholic Church

The Byzantine Catholic Church was never officially liquidated in Poland as it was in neighboring Czechoslovakia and Soviet Ukraine. This Church was illegal in Poland from 1947 until 1957; most of its properties were given to the Roman Catholic Church or abandoned. The Byzantine Catholic Church began to revive itself in 1957 after the deported Ukrainians and Lemkos were permitted to return to Poland. However, the government made it very difficult for the church to operate, and any activity was permitted only under the auspices of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Peremyshl was vacant until January 1991, when Bishop Ivan Martynjak (consecrated 1989 by Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp to serve as auxiliary bishop and "vicar" for Byzantine Catholics) was named its Eparch (ruling bishop and ordinary).181

The first parish to be reestablished was Komancha (1962), followed by Novycja/Pryslop (1967), Ustje Ruske (1967), and Losje, Gorlice county (1968). The main parishes are Komancha and Krynica (1982), from which other localities are served on a periodic basis. The wooden church in Komancha is in use by the Orthodox parish; therefore, a church from the village of Szybistów/Dudynci (built in 1802 and probably the oldest wooden church in Poland of the Greek cross floorplan) was to be transferred to Komancha to serve the Byzantine Catholic parish. Instead, the church was demolished sometime in 1984182 so the Komancha parish constructed a new wooden church in 1987, pictured in Appendix XI. A similar fate befell the Church of Saint Paraskeva built 1872-74 in Rajskie/Rajs'ke (Lesko county); it was blown up with dynamite by the local authorities in 1990 when the few Byzantine Catholic Lemkos in nearby Wolkowyja/Volkovyja requested that it be opened for their use.183 The wooden cedar church in Stavysha built in 1818 was intentionally burned down in 1966.184 Tragically, many other historic Lemko churches have similarly been destroyed; many others are abandoned and falling into decay. In fact, of all Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox wooden churches in southeast Poland (both Lemko and Bojko territory) as of 1956, 164 had been destroyed, 101 of which had been designated "monuments of architecture".185

Byzantine catholic services in the Lemko Region are conducted generally in the Old Church Slavonic language (whereas the church in Ukraine is adopting modern Ukrainian as a liturgical language).

For a list of Byzantine catholic parishes in the Lemko Region, see Appendix XIII.

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