The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Soviet State (1939-1950)

Bohdan R. Bociurkiw (Author)


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Table of Contents (PDF)
List of Illustrations (PDF)

by Bohdan R. Bociurkiw (Author)

Bohdan R. Bociurkiw’s book is a pioneering study of the suppression of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church under Stalinist rule. It is the fruit of a lifetime of painstaking research. The study takes into account all the most important publications on the subject. It draws on publications that have appeared in a great variety of religious, Ukrainian underground, Soviet and non-Soviet (especially émigré) journals, newspapers, propagandistic pamphlets, and leaflets.

Many of the Soviet archival materials from Communist Party and government (including KGB) repositories used by the author had been classified and have hitherto remained unknown to scholars and analysts. These sources have been supplemented by documents from ecclesiastical archives in Rome and Ukrainian church repositories in the West. Furthermore, the author availed himself of a number of oral informants, including victims and eyewitnesses of Soviet repressions against the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, thereby including in his considerations vital insights that otherwise would not have been preserved.

Dr. Bociurkiw judiciously pieces together these disparate and scattered bits of information to narrate the planning, realization, and immediate consequences of the Soviet liquidation of the Greek Catholic Church. The book carefully analyzes Soviet policy toward the church from the first occupation of Galicia by the Red Army in 1939 through the liquidation of the institutional structures of the Greek Catholic Church in Galicia, Poland, and Transcarpathia in the mid- and late 1940s.

The study shows what Soviet authorities sought to achieve through their policy toward the Greek Catholic Church in the context of preceding and contemporary Russian and Soviet nationalities policy and reveals the mechanism through which the Stalin regime sought to meet its objectives regarding Ukrainian Greek Catholics. In so doing the author identifies the main executors of the Kremlin-ordered “reunion” of the Greek Catholic Church with the state-controlled Moscow Patriarchate, including NKGB/MGB agents, officials, and propagandists, often hiding behind pseudonyms plausibly deciphered in the book, and ecclesiastical figures.

Given the sensitivity of the subject matter, the perfidy of some actors on the stage, the heroism of others, and the difficulty of separating well-intended fiction and deliberate disinformation from documented facts, Bohdan Bociurkiw’s solid, well-informed, and balanced analysis of the Soviet attempt to liquidate the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine is a major accomplishment. This is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church or in the suppression of religion under Soviet rule.


  1. John-Paul Himka’s review in the Slavic Review, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring 1997), pp. 136-38
  2. A review in Ecumenism, No. 125, March 1997, p. 46
  3. A review in First Things 72 (April 1997)
  4. Gregory Woolfenden’s review in Eastern Churches Journal, Autumn 1997, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 167-69
  5. A review in the Forum Magazine, No. 97, Fall 1997, p. 34
  6. C. Simon’s review in Orientalia Christiana Periodica, Vol. 63, No. 1, 1997, pp. 267-71
  7. A review in Glaube in Der 2. Welt, No. 11 (1997), p. 30 (in German)
  8. Serhii Plokhy’s review in Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol. XXI (3-4), (1997), pp. 482-85
  9. Georg Seide’s review in Osteuropa, 47 (1997), H. 7, pp. 743-44 (in German)
  10. Bill Mikhail’s review in the Journal of Church and State, Vol. 40, No. 2, Spring 1998
  11. Eugene Huskey’s review in the American Historical Review, April 1998, pp. 560-61
  12. Myroslav Shkandrij’s review in the Canadian Book Review Annual, Vol. 23, July 1998, p. 115 (2159)
  13. Andrew Wilson’s review in The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 76, Pt. 1, (1998), pp. 168-71
  14. Myroslav Tataryn’s review in the Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol. 40, Nos. 3-5 (1998), pp. 454-55
  15. George O. Liber’s review in the Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, No. 3, (1998), pp. 756-57
  16. L. Delmotte’s review in Istina, No. 1 (1999), pp. 84-85 (in French)
  17. Frank Golczewski’s review in Zeitschrift fuer Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung, 48 (1999), H. 2, p. 316 (in German)
  18. Katrin Boeckh’s review in Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas 48 (2000), H. 1, pp. 139-41 (in German)
  19. Roman Cholij’s review in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2000), pp. 103-8
  20. Sophia Senyk’s review in the Russian Review, (Spring 2002), pp. 132-33

Language: English
Hardcover: xvi, 310 pages, illustrations, photographs, maps, tables
Publisher: The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, co-published with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (1996)
ISBN: 1-895571-12-X

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Page Count

xvi, 310 pages, illustrations, photographs, maps, tables