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The Orthodox Nationalist: The Old Ruthenian Struggle – TON 101817

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Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson presents a podcast on Orthodoxy and the Unia in Austria-Hungary, a subject close to his heart.

The position of the Orthodox in Galicia and western Ukraine has, since at least the middle of the 16th century, been one of endless misery, warfare, public humiliation and ritual degradation. Outside of Catholic Ireland, this sort of treatment over so long a period of time is almost unheard of. The story of the Old Ruthenians is extraordinary.

The “Uniat” church was a papal plan to convert the Orthodox in Poland. The Polish Confederations sought total Latinization and never trusted the Unia, but the papal idea prevailed.

For the uninitiated, the Uniats are a religious body using some Byzantine rituals while claiming loyalty to the Pope of Rome. It was a hybrid of some Catholic theology with some Byzantine ritual. It made no theological sense. It was forced upon a clueless Ukrainian population starting in 1595, though its antecedents go back further. Right up until the middle of the 20th century, many in Ukraine or Carpathian Rus' had no idea they were Papal Catholic and believed themselves to be Orthodox.

One of the first Russophiles, N. Kmicykevich wrote in 1834 that the Russians were the same people from Western Ukraine to Kamchatka, from the White Sea to the Black Sea,. There is, in other words, a single civilization. This cannot be overstated: in linking themselves with a broader civilization (as opposed to a single nation), this tiny nation of 2.5 million people was now part of a huge civilizational structure. No longer seeing themselves as representatives of a small Ruthenian nation of under three million people, weak in comparison to its neighbors, the Russophiles now saw themselves as the westernmost branch of the Great Russian people.

Politically, the Russophiles came to advocate the idea of a union between a “Galician Ruthenia” and Russia.

The point of this lecture is to speak of the ideological and religious struggles of the Slavonic-Nationalist movement in Central Europe from 1840 to 1920 or so.

And it just so happens that the headquarters of this movement today can be found in the Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Church headquartered in the author's hometown of Johnstown, PA.

Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: The Old Ruthenian Struggle – TON 101817


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