A crucial turning point: The council of Lviv 1946, its background and consequences

George Ihor Pawliczko, Fordham University


The Ukrainian Catholic Church, with its allegiance to Rome and distinctly Eastern dogma, traditions and language occupies a unique position, representing the bridge church between Orthodox East and Catholic West. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was not only instrumental in the development and retention of Ukrainian self-identity, but in the Vatican's Ostpolitik of converting the East. As such, it was a threat to the political hegemony of the tsarist and later Soviet government and especially the religious hegemony of the Russian Orthodox Church. This dissertation studies the events leading up to the 1946 Synod of Lviv which liquidated the Ukrainian Catholic Church and incorporated it into the Russian Orthodox Church. It demonstrates that there was a very close similarity between the 1946 Sobor and the one held in 1839 which liquidated the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the part of Ukraine which was incorporated into the Russian Empire following the partitions of Poland. The thesis of this dissertation is that the liquidation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was motivated by political as well as religious considerations. This was not a spontaneous event as the Soviets would lead us to believe, but was planned prior to the Soviet's first occupation of Ukraine in 1939. It is shown that the Sobor which liquidated the Church was invalid and illegal according to the canonical laws of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This is the first detailed study of the complete original documents of the liquidation Sobor, Diannia Soboru Hreko-Katolyc'koi cerkvy 8-10 bereznia 1946 u Lvovi (proceedings of the Council of the Greek-Catholic Church of March 8-10, 1946 in Lviv) (published in Ukrainian). Many of these documents have never been translated into the English language. The ramifications of the decision to liquidate the Ukrainian Catholic Church are analyzed from the point of view of the parties involved: the Soviet Government, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Vatican and the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The thesis concludes with a description of the Church's attempts at survival and a study of the latest efforts at legalization of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the new "Church of the Catacombs."

Subject Area

European history|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Pawliczko, George Ihor, "A crucial turning point: The council of Lviv 1946, its background and consequences" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918640.