Christianity from its inception has expressed a tension between imperium and sacerdotium; after the Reformation, this tension has only been aggravated. Avowals of religious freedom thereafter have often rightly insisted on the capacity of spiritual communities to invoke limits for the state. This is readily apparent in South Africa, past and present. However, scholarship has shown that “religious liberty” has an ambiguous function, such as its privatisation of belief, based on a liberalised notion of “negative” freedom that allows the state to grant the “right” to “belief,” while simultaneously rendering belief a purely private or “otherworldly” affair. This is traceable to overly-Protestant conceptions of “religion” and “freedom” that are pervasive – including South Africa. From a theological perspective, I argue that this conception of “religious freedom” might sit in tension with aspects of ecclesiology and that the discursive deployment of “religious freedom” should therefore be engaged critically.
This article argues that taking the ‘long view’ of 1596–1946 simultaneously creates and solves problems. It gives context to the pseudo-sobor, but the past is also used to justify the sobor, allowing actors in the twentieth century to evade their responsibility. 1946 is thus a microcosm of a problem for Christians outside the Soviet context grappling with the relationship between historical truth and theological claims while avoiding the traps of confessionalism, nationalism, and historical relativism.
One of the most contentious issues concerning the reception of the events of 1946 is the question of canonicity and legitimacy. This paper examines the his-tory and canonical regulation of church councils in the first millennium and compares this with the gathering in Lviv. Both church representatives and scholars have noted that the sobor was not convened by a legitimate Church authority, the ‘Initiative Group’ leaders were no longer members of the Church for which they pretended to act, the delegates were not elected, no bishop of the UGCC was present, arbitrarily appointed representatives of the ROC participated, and the Soviet authorities intimidated the participants. These critiques are analysed in the context of early canonical legislation, such as the Council of Trullo and the Seventh Ecumenical Council (ad 787), where the intrusion of civil authorities in church life was a problem, as well as Catholic canon law at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, which established the norms by which a synod or council of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in 1946 should have been convened. In no way can the gathering of 1946 be considered a legitimate church council.
This paper traces the history of the ‘Lviv Sobor’ of 1946, examining its preparation, the details of the gathering itself, and its aftermath. Archival documents of the Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults of the USSR, the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, and other state and secret service archives provide detailed information on the planning and preparation of the gathering by the ‘Initiative Group’. Personal memoirs of participants and observers also round out the picture of these events. From a Catholic perspective, the gathering can be viewed only as a pseudo-sobor, it was an act of violence and injustice in regard to many Greek Catholics, and the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in this movement, initiated by Soviet state authorities and security services, was wrong and unjust.
From an anthropological and religious studies point of view, the Catholic liturgical reform in the wake of Vatican II is a highly intriguing event and/or process. The type of change to the ritual represented by this reform raises the question of its impact on Catholicism. This article proposes to look at this problem from the perspective of Roy A. Rappaport’s theory of ritual, primarily in terms of the ritual stabilisation of meaning. The breakdown in terms of the semiotics of immutability that resulted from the reform, and the far-reaching shift towards verbal communication that this brought about in the post-conciliar liturgy, seem to have been the main factors responsible for destabilizing the Catholic universe of meaning as regards its relationship to “truth.” As a result, instead of just one Catholicism, today we can speak of many “post-Catholicisms.”
Despite the attempted liquidation of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC) in 1946, the church continued its existence in Western Europe and North America. This paper analyses responses to the pseudo-sobor of Lviv by the UGCC between 1946 and 1989, and for the same period, the attitudes of the UGCC to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Three periods are examined, namely the initial responses in Exile (1946–1963), the Second Vatican Council and the return of Cardinal Josyf Slipyj from Soviet exile (1963–1984), and the period after Slipyj (1984–1989). Initial responses lacked unity and coherency, but with the return of Slipyj a more unified position on various issues was developed, although not always accepted by the UGCC. The 1980s witnessed the first public attempts at reconciliation with the ROC, which can be judged as a break-through to developing a more nuanced, even ecumenical, position. However, those first steps at the highest ecclesiastical level were made with great hesitancy and even fear.
This paper presents all papal pronouncements on the events of 1946, from Pope Pius XII to Pope Francis. Before 2006, the Holy See had never spoken officially and directly on the ‘Lviv Sobor’ as such, let alone on its canonicity. Nevertheless, the Holy See has always recognized the existence of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, not only in the diaspora, but in Ukraine itself, which may be considered as an indirect recognition of the invalidity of the synod of Lviv. Pope John Paul II elaborated on the role which the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is called to play today in the ecumenical movement, while Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis were the first to refer to the Lviv gathering as a ‘pseudo-synod’. The paper also presents exchanges between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and ecumenical dialogue.