(Radio commentary of “The Voice of the Ukrainian community”, Philadelphia)
A letter, which we recently received from a layman of the Carpathian Catholic Church in this country, disclosed interesting data about the Greek Catholic parish in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislav. We think that this news might be interesting to our listeners.
The parish in Bratislav was organized in 1968, when the Greek Catholic Church after twenty years of persecution was once again allowed to go “above-ground” in Czechoslovakia. At first the civil and spiritual authorities in this city allowed the observance of the liturgy in our rite in St. Ladislav’s Church on the Street of the Army. Afterwards the Church of the Holy Cross, a building in a very poor condition, located at the Andrijivskij cemetery, was rented. Thanks to the persistent efforts of Rev. Archdeacon Halka and Rev. Andrij and Rev. Ivan Fedorenko, Basilians, that structure was renovated. The renovation took up four years and cost a large sum – over 600 thousand Czech crowns. Two thirds of this fund was obtained from the government and the rest from the voluntary contributions by parish members and Roman Catholic Slovaks. Last year the consecration of the renovated church took place. Our correspondent describes this celebration:
Finally, October 29, 1972, the big day arrived. The renovated Greek Catholic church was consecrated by the Very Rev. Vasil Hopko, Bishop of Priashiv. Everything proceeded beautifully and majestically. Roman Catholic church dignitaries had been invited. The church was filled to the seams. The final speech was by the Bishop himself. But, unfortunately, for some reason, he did not have the courage to say a few words to the faithful, his brothers and sisters in eastern Slovakia, in his native tongue… Granted that this must have been the result of the several decades of imprisonment that the Very Rev. Vasil Hopko underwent in worse times… Nevertheless, for whom is printed Blahovisnik. the Greek Catholic organ in Czechoslovakia? It is only for the Slovak Greek Catholics? If so, for what readers does Blahovisnik publish the polished articles and stories in Ukrainian? Furthermore, for whom in that same Blahovisnik are the articles and the stories in the Ruthenian language?
(End of quotation).
Obviously, we fully share in the indignation of our brothers in faith, language, and nationality from the other side of the Carpathian mountains. We think that denationalization preached and practiced in our Church (wherever it might be) in the name of “unity of faith” is as pernicious as denationalization which is preached by imperialists in the name of all other so-called “universal human Ideals.”
Our thinking is paralleled by our correspondent further in his letter:
In the capital of Czechoslovakia, Prague, there is also a Greek Catholic Church. There God’s Word is preached in Ukrainian. Are the church laws supposed to be different in Bratislav from those in Prague? And if so, who is responsible for this? Is it Archdeacon Halko? A church, whatever rite it might be a part of, should preach God’s Word in the language of its faithful.
If we look into the depths of the history of the Luzhian Serbs, then who was it that defended the small Luzhian minority from Germanization? You know well that it was the Bishop with his clergy. The church saved them.
We hope that you, the clergymen, who have not yet lost your national face, will follow in the footsteps of. the Luzhian clergymen, protected from Germanization their small community. Furthermore, you Reverends,, should look deeply into the history of our people on this side of the Carpathiam mountains – In Zakarpathia and in eastern Slovakia. You should be reminded of the struggles of those before you – Fathers Duchnovicz, Pavlovicz and the great awakaner of our people, Father Markian Shashkevicz and his “Rusalka Dnistrovaya”.
(End of quotation from the letter)
So much from our correspondent. His thoughts and ideas from the part of the world dominated by Communists, are identical to ours, in the free world. The fight for them is equally hard here.