Greek Catholic and Orthodox churches in social and political life of Western Ukraine (1919-1939)




Church, Catholic, Eastern Galicia, Orthodox, Western Volyn, Polish State, parties, ideology


The topicality of the research of society and church interaction in the last century has been invoked due to several factors. The establishment of civilized relations between the church and authority contributes to the democratization of society, constructive dialogue and cooperation. The real need to overcome certain interconfessional estrangement (Catholic - Orthodox, "Westerners" - "Easterners") promotes the development of civil society principles.

In studying these problems superiority naturally belongs to the West Ukrainian researchers. They are L. Aleksiievets, A. Yehreshiy, M. Kuhutiak, A. Krasivskyi, M. Lytvyn, A. Lutskyi, K. Naumenko, V. Marchuk, N. Korostil and O. Malyarchuk and many other native scholars. Public, political, cultural, educational, social, economic and religious revival of the Western Ukrainian people is comprehensively covered in their works based on wide range of sources. The special attention should be given to a new cultural and educational periodical "Svitych" in Precarpathian region. The first copy of it was published in late 2012. The founders and promoters of the issue were historians M.Kolomyiets, B. Yanevych, O. Malyarchuk and O.Tebeshevska, I. Tkachyk, U. Panio and others. "Svitych" means light and truth.

In terms of national, political and economic oppression of the Ukrainian population by Polish government the church was a real force to preserve Ukrainian national identity, the Ukrainian language and traditions. The considerable influence on political processes was made by hierarchs of the Greek Catholic and Orthodox churches and local pastors.

In the interwar period, the church played a crucial social role in the Western Ukrainian region. It was a consolidated Ukrainian community force that combined all social strata of the Ukrainian population. The church was the mediator between the Polish administration and Ukrainian community, undertaking the task to search for compromise solutions in the most difficult historical situations.

In the interwar period the Greek Catholic Church continued to bear the status of an independent religious, moral, social and political force which was closely associated with the national liberation movement of the Ukrainians. In religious sphere it vindicated the values of Christianity by solving the problems of the Ukrainian community for what other religious denominations claimed. In political sphere it has contributed to strengthening the western Ukrainians' identity, becoming a politically-organized community. GCC (Greek Catholic Church) has formulated its clear purpose and actively defended it in the government and against opposition organizations. Its view on the national liberation movement was manifested in creating its own effective social and political institutions and active participation in various events. On the one hand it is the objection to Communism ideas, on the other hand it is the deprecation of Ukrainian nationalists defense tactics.

An important role in national education of the Western Ukrainians was made by church. Clergy organized schools, mutual aid institutions, published books, theological and secular literature, was engaged in public affairs, acted as a unifying center of the progressive nation forces. In every population centre the church tried to create parish reading rooms with a variety of clubs: anti-nicotine, anti-alcohol, sports, commercial, theatrical ones.

The Greek Catholic and the Orthodox churches formally dissociated themselves from political activity, developed their own strategy and tactics for the various social and political movements. They were key factors in stabilizing and unifying political situation. The closest ties were with the national democratic camp which was embodied in the UNDA and VUO.

Author Biography

Ruslan Husak, Institute of History of Ukraine, Ivano-Frankivsk

candidate of historical sciences


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How to Cite

Husak, R. (2014). Greek Catholic and Orthodox churches in social and political life of Western Ukraine (1919-1939). Skhid, (3(129).