Pope John Paul II
November 30, 1979
In your numerous public pronouncements, you have underscored basic human rights and fundamental freedoms to be respected and valued everywhere. This is the reason why we are addressing you in an urgent and grave matter. Among the many fine men and women who devoted their life and work to these noble ideas in the Soviet Union is Reverend Vasyl Romaniuk, Ukrainian Orthodox priest, now in Siberian exile. His present address is: USSR, Yakutskaia ASSR, poselok Sangar, ul. Sportivnaia 12, kv. 36, Romaniuk Vasyl Omelianovych.
Father Romaniuk had been sentenced in 1972 to seven years of imprisonment and to five years of exile. It is his second incarceration since, as a young man at the age of twenty, he was sentenced in 1946 to ten years in a concentration camp. The sole reason for which Rev. Romaniuk is being persecuted is his devotion to the pastoral work and his dedicated love for the Ukrainian people and culture. Throughout his years of imprisonment, he constantly was a leading spokesman for human rights and for freedom of conscience. He wrote to many international instances on his behalf and on the behalf of his fellow prisoners.
Father Romaniuk has addressed letters to your predecessor of blessed memory, Pope Paul VI, to the Vatican official newspaper Osservatore Romano and to other Western church leaders.
In a letter to Christian churches in the United States, he has observed:
Contemplating about Soviet repressions (against dissenters) and realizing that the people imprisoned here are suffering solely because of their convictions, I definitely came to the conclusion that inhumanity, cruelty, and tyranny are part and parcel of the way of life of this country’s leaders, so that it would be futile to seek here humane attitudes, compassion, and charity. This is the reason why I have decided to renounce Soviet citizenship since I do not want to carry responsibility to future generations for all the crimes committed in the past or still being committed now by the regime.
Father Romaniuk has asked the U. S. government to grant him American citizenship and to intercede on behalf of his emigration from the USSR.
The undersigned met today in Chicago to listen to Rev. Michael Bourdeaux from Keston College, England, on the fate of Rev. Romaniuk and other religious dissidents. We urgently ask your Holiness to use your high moral authority in obtaining freedom for Father Romaniuk and allowing him to leave the Soviet Union.
Dr. Vasyl Markus
Rev. Michael Bourdeaux
Rt. Rev. Marian Butrynsky
Plus five hundred signatures