Ukrainianism and the Orthodox Movement

Much of the Ukrainian influence was imported from eastern Galicia in the form of nationally-conscious Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic priests, who by and large were celibate, clean-shaven and proponents of Latinization of the church tradition, many of whom were sent to parishes whose (Russophile or Old-Rusyn) priests died at Talerhof.18 In reaction to this, the return to the Orthodox Church accelerated among the Russophile and Rusyn-oriented Lemko peasants and clergy. Around 40 villages had forced out the newcomers and invited in married Orthodox priests who tenaciously conserved the Byzantine tradition.19 By 1935, at least 18,000 Lemkos had become Orthodox.20

Under pressure from the Polish government and in response to this alarming loss of membership, on February 10, 1934 the Vatican's Congregation for the Eastern Churches established the Lemko Apostolic Administration of the Byzantine Catholic Church, with Russophile or Rusyn-oriented21 priests as administrators with near-episcopal powers. The administration had 121 parishes in nine deaneries,22 and 130,000 members.23 The Ukrainians saw this as "a Polish attempt to more easily promote the assimilation of Lemkos into the Roman Catholic Church by separating them from their Ukrainian brethren to the east."24

The Lemko Region remained poverty-stricken, and much of the population was attracted to left-wing and pro-Soviet parties working to establish communism in Poland.

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