"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sacred Geography

For nearly 20 years now, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox in Eastern Europe--above all in Western Ukraine but also in Romania--have been (as Fr. Andriy Chirovsky commented in 2001) Goebbels-like in cranking out an endless series of calumnies and complaints about supposed violators of their so-called canonical territory. Those violators are, of course, said to be the Greco-Catholics in both countries, Ukraine especially. When pressed, neither the Russians nor the Romanians have ever once been able to produce credible evidence justifying the charge that, inter alia, Catholics are "proselytizing" on their "canonical territory," a bogus notion hypocritically asserted by Orthodox who have what--five Orthodox bishops in New York, and a hierarch in Vienna, Oxford, and elsewhere, all places historically in the "canonical territory" of the Roman patriarchate. Again and again responsible scholars who have investigated these charges have reached the only rational conclusion--viz., that the charges are a fictional invention for propagandistic purposes by Orthodox Churches who are still mad that the Greco-Catholic Churches they assisted in suppressing (the evidence of which is in print and is incontrovertible) in the postwar Stalinist era have in fact come back to life. Among such studies, the most effective is, to my mind, that of Andriy Yurash, “Orthodox-Greek Catholic Relations in Galicia and their Influence on the Religious Situation in Ukraine.” Religion, State & Society 33 (2005): 185-205. Yurash shows just how baseless these charges are in Galicia--that is, Western Ukraine (more or less). (On Galicia, see the splendid book of Christopher Hann and Paul Robert Magocsi, Galicia: A Multicultured Land [University of Toronto Press, 2005].) Additionally, see Michael Mates article, "Politics, Property Restitution, and Ecumenism in the Romanian Orthodox Church" in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 46 (2005): 73-94: 

What we have needed has been a study of this whole notion of "canonical territory." It has only been done piecemeal to date, and often for tendentious purposes. Now, however, we have a good study of it: Johannes Oeldemann, "The Concept of Canonical Territory in the Russian Orthodox Church." Oeldemann's study is one of the few pieces in an otherwise overpriced and underwhelming (and in some cases hilariously inept) collection: Thomas Bremer, ed., Religion and the Conceptual Boundary in Central and Eastern Europe

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