Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left?

Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 07/19/17 11:51 PM

In my research into my Rusin/Ruthenian roots, I discovered that my ancestors were considered part of "the Russophile Movement." I found out that the Greek Catholic Church in Galicia (Chervona or Red Rus') and Carpatho Rus' had a predominantly Old Ruthenian then Russophile or Pan Russian orientation into the beginning of the early twentieth century. Until the ethnic cleansing of Rusins occured at Talerhoff. (Perhaps after Operation Visla with the Lemkos.) I was astounded to learn Lvov was the center of an Old Ruthenian Brotherhood, which later was a Russophile center, that it was descended from the period after the Lublin Union and rejected the Unia of Brest. While opposing the Uzhgorod and Galician Unias. When I encountered books published by this brotherhood, I could scarcely believe what I was looking at: it wasn't anything "Ukrainian" at all, but read almost as Literary Russian. From Lvov, and that's how the name would have been transliterated according to the title page: no "Lvivs." I discovered the clergy of the Greek Catholic church were predominantly Russophile until the Austrian government began promoting "Ukrainian nationality." Into the 1880s, even 1890s. That historical Rusin identity, even in rural Galicia, was maintained amongst some Galicians even under the Pilsudski regime. I found out that a good percentage of Russian White General Denikin's volunteers were actually Galician Russophiles!

So, needless to say - the current, accepted, ethnographic paradigms of Ukrainian/Russian dichotomies pushed in the West were deconstructed for me as false, predicated on fraudulent historiography.

My question then: is there anything left of the Old Ruthenian/Russophile movement amongst Ruthenian (or even "Ukrainian") Byzantine Catholics? Are there modern Russophiles amongst Byzantine Catholics? What are your views on Rus'/Russia/the Ruthenias?

I'm curious to understand how heritage and ethnos have been preserved and how you convey them to outsiders and pass them on to the next generation.

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration.
Posted By: Fr. Al

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 07/21/17 05:14 PM

Not sure if this will help, but I'm currently reading, "Straddling Borders: Literature and Identity in Subcarpathian Rus' " by Elaine Rusinko, University of Toronto Press.
As both she and Professor Magocsi point out, there were attempts to create a literary language by using Russified versions of the Galician and Carpathian dialects from Alexander Duchnovich up to at least the middle of the last century.
Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 07/21/17 07:21 PM

I am aware of her work, but her sources are either non existent or in error, Father. The Old Ruthenian Brotherhoods in such cities as Lvov, Kiev, Ostrogh and Vilna maintained "schools of Russians letters." The language they used or evolved originated from Old Ruthenian/Russian and was known as "Court Ruthenian," or Middle Ruthenian. It and Middle Russian are very close. When the Ukraine or Little Russia was reunited with Russia, Kievan Brotherhood educated scholars were instrumental in the Russian Imperial transition to the modern Russian literary language. Literary Russian has both Middle Ruthenian and Middle Russian parents.

In the case of the Lvov Old Ruthenian Brotherhood, whose writings also influenced Fr. Dukhnovich, the language put forward was simply a redaction of Middle Ruthenian. So too the language of the Carpatho-Rusin Russophiles was a redaction of Middle Ruthenian, and not Literary Russian. Albeit these redactions are close to Literary Russian. There was no small degree of controversy during this period of what constituted the "native language" or "Rusin tongue." The dispute centered on whether the grammatical Middle Ruthenian should be phoneticized and adapted to reflect common speech or should conform to a standard Ruthenian then Russian lexicon. Middle Ruthenian is the direct parent of Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Carpatho-Rusin, where accentuation seems to be one of the major factors of differentiation. The Belorussians have pronounced "akanie." The Ukrainians naturally stress "polnoglasie." The Rusins tend to evidence a Slovak-esque stress on syllables. These differences, coupled with centuries of a lack of popular education as a result of foreign occupation/repression, produced a pseudomorphosis in popular language which resulted in the intrusion of foreign loanwords and grammatical structures, some being secondary forms of Middle Ruthenian.

So the Russophiles advocated historical spellings, grammar, speech and popular education using Middle Ruthenian as a template. The "Ukrainians" advocated the codefication of pseudo-morphosed folk speech, riddled with foreign words and grammatical forms, with ahistorical phonetic spellings accompanying them. The linguistic controversy then centers on continuing and legitimizing foreign occupation or affirming native, Ruthenian linguistics as a statement of liberation.

The Lvov Old Ruthenian Brotherhood was not under the influence of the Russian Empire. Fr. Dukhnovich, while an unapologetic Russophile, was a product of the Old Ruthenian grammars used in seminary and nothing "Muscovite." The question of language was centered on the heritage of Rus' as preserved by the Old Ruthenian Brotherhoods of these occupied lands, as opposed to new and contrived linguistics (and ethnic identities) which were the product of foreign enslavement and oppression and social engineering. The Russophile party embraced an All-Russian identity because after Pereyaslval the Russian Empire had formed as all All-Russian synthesis, with strong linguistic and cultural influences from Middle Ruthenian Kiev. Kiev in the nineteenth century being a center of the Russophile/Pan-Slav movement. So to say russification was the reason of the linguistic divergence is part of the popular, yet fraudulent, historical narrative.

Middle Ruthenian, having much in common with Literary Russian (its child), is the historical and natural grammatical language of all the Ruthenians. Foreign accretions displaced native Ruthenian words and grammatical forms and affected pronunciation. (When "Ukrainians" speak of "deRussification" what they actually are attempting is the artificial elimination of native Middle Ruthenian words and grammatical forms more often than not.) Fr. Dukhnovich's and the Lvov Brotherhood's point was to rid the foreign accretions and create a modern Ruthenian language which naturally would be a local form of Literary Russian. Mind you, this language with either a Galician Rusin or Carpatho-Rusin accent sounds quite distinct from Literary Russian (and is popularly intelligible).

As a Russophile myself, I believe Fr. Dukhnovich's and the Lvov Brotherhoods emphasis on a modern language descended from Middle Ruthenian throwing off the yoke of Polonization and to a lesser extent Slovakization is the appropriate emphasis to modern Ruthenian linguistics. Before modern orthographies are devised or lexicons and grammars are tortured for decades to revise themselves every six months to standardize what results as nothing more than a Russo-Polish Ebonics, the grammatical structure of Middle Ruthenian with its lexicon must be established as the sine non qua grammatical foundation, then dePolonized, then deSlovakized. Afterward, where the Middle Ruthenian lexicon conflicts with Literary Russian deRussified. Then local variations in terminology and accent can be imported. That is a native, liberated approach.

I have run across anecdotes from the period which relate that the popular speech of educated Ruthenians in Lvov was indeed a form of Middle Ruthenian and nothing like we would today identify as "Ukrainian." While speakers of "Ukrainian" are today often vexed to understand "Rusyn" speakers due to what they call "Russian words mixed in" (Middle Ruthenian survivals). But "Rusyn" is less Surzhyk influenced than Galician. Surzhyk itself being nothing more than the natural language of peoples of the Ukraine having its degree, range and usage expressed by the degree of Polonization.

The current ethnographic and linguistic narratives in the West are the product of popularized incomplete and outright fraudulent historiography.
Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 07/25/17 12:48 PM

Thank you very much for your patience and consideration. I appreciate the response (and non response) received as a sufficient answer to my query. I now consider this topic closed.
Posted By: Mark R

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 08/11/17 11:55 PM

I found all this very fascinating. I was a Slavic Languages major and at one time spoke Polish fluently. I am half Carpatho-Russian and not at all Polish, Poland at the time was an important topic and I was sort of a better Catholic then. I was much taken by Polish literature and theater once there, and had little interest in the Catholic Church quite shortly.
I did know of one or two Russophile Ruthenians back in 1989-90. They were father and son; the father was a Rusin immigrant and the son is now a Greek Catholic priest and has a doctorate in Russian Literature. I do not want to give too much away. I have known one other GC priest and heard of other older ones who strongly held that Rusins are Russians, but probably more in an obshcherusskiy sense. I doubt this attitude would be officially countenanced by the Archeparchy.
I consider myself a Russophile Rusin, but my Russian has never been up to snuff, since I never lived there. My mother identified as Russian and would have wondered what a Ruthenian is...and Ukrainian would be something all together different to her I do attend a ROCOR church, but I am no longer much for socializing. So it is all books for Russian exposure now.
It struck me how much Ukrainian resembles old Polish. And an interesting parallel to what was written above is the existence of Church Slavonic loan words in Russian via Alexander Pushkin, who was not that devout most of his life but like the archaic effect these words had.
In re. Ukrainian historiography, it has often struck a false chord with me because their histories seem to be written only by Ukrainians of a similar point of view. At least with the Russians there are plenty of Brits and others who make a contribution besides a spectrum of Russian political views represented.
Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 08/16/17 07:24 PM

Slava Isusu Khristu!

Thank you for your considerate thoughts.

I'd like to say a few words in response.

When "Ukrainianization" began after the Civil War in the Soviet Union, there were occurences in the Soviet Ukraine of the common people resisting the new ethnic identity, even West of Kiev. "Ukrainianization" was promoted by the Soviet government into the 1930s, through the South Russian famines of 1932-1933 some refer to as "the holodomor" (golodomor). Stalin even redoubled "Ukrainianization" after WWII in Ruthenian ("Western Ukrainian") provinces recovered from Poland and especially in Carpatho Rus'. The Soviet government even suggested that the Carpatho (Ugro-) Rusins in Preshov Rus' as well as the Polish Lemko Rusins should be "ukrainianized". An influential, Soviet majority had fallen for the fraudulent historiography of some that asserts Rusins (or "Rusyns") are nothing but atavized "Ukrainians", despite linguistic and cultural differences Carpatho Rusins evidence from even Galicians, differences as pronounced as that of Belorussians from "Ukrainians".

As an aside, the Galicians who fought for the White General Denikin tended to flatly reject "ukrainianization" as a foreign, coerced absurdity upon Ruthenians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There were strains of this sentiment even witnessed in Poland during the Pilsudski regime. So by no means was "ukrainianization" greeted with universal acceptance amongst Ruthenians or even seen as native.

So it is no wonder that Rusins of the old immigration thought that "Ukrainian" was "something different altogether". It was a new nationality fostered by the Austro-Hungarian government to dislodge Ruthenians from their history, culture, religious heritage. "Ukrainianization" wasn't just a matter of phoneticizing the speech of peasants who had been Polish (or Hungarian) serfs and deprived of their own letters, literacy for centuries: it also involved exaggeration of divergent folklore distinct from the All Russian synthesis advanced by the Russian Empire to concoct a notion that "Ukrainians" were actually a more Western Slavic (ie "more cultured") group. There were plans for "Ukrainian" adoption of a Latin based alphabet, ie "Latinica", to be imposed on all Ruthenians. Indeed, there were instances of persecution for being in possession of books printed in Cyrillic. There were also plans at the outset to gradually polonize "Ukrainian" to create an almost Eastern Polish dialect (that's what the advocates of "Ukrainian" ethnogenesis have actually in effect been flirting with for decades, the reason behind the revisions of the lexicon, spelling, grammar every eighteen months to achieve "deRussification". You can't deRussify an ethnos which descends from Rus' without creating a foreign ethnos; the very notion shouts political machination and artificial, imposed ethnogenesis).

I would pause before discounting "Ukrainian" historiography wholesale. Hrushevsky's opus, despite being overly romanticized and secular in his portrayal of the Zaporozhian and Polish Chartered Ukrainian Cossacks, was not intended to be a "Ukrainian nationalist" manifesto originally. His original intent was to promote Ruthenian awareness and All-Ruthenian unity to accentuate an independent, ethnic awareness from Russian, but one very much descended from Rus' and faithful to the history, culture and religion of Rus'. It was originally called A HISTORY OF RUS' until the Austro-Hungarian secret police pressured him to revise the title to A HISTORY OF UKRAINE and insisted on revisions in tone, content and emphasis to promote "ukrainianization".

At one time, some confined use of the word "Ruthenian" to mean Rusin Greek Catholics. In other words, a word more often than not used by Rome. It was eschewed by not a few Orthodox. Today one hears the word most often addressing Carpatho (Ugro-) Rusins ("Rusyns"). But the word itself is probably most accurate to historically describe the people of Western Rus' who had been separated from Rus' due to the Mongol Conquest and found themselves being subjects of the Lithuanian Crown, which attempted to be a Russian successor state in its early years, and Poland (and Hungary). Historically, all of the descendents of Rus' in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and in Hungary (also in Transylvania, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Moldavia) are Ruthenians, Rusins ethnographically. Useage of the term is historically more appropriate than emphasis on new, politically charged nationalities. It basically means Western Russian as opposed to Russian. It also avoids the "back and forth" prevalent in Great Russian vs. Little Russian rhetoric (vis. "epithet ethnogenesis" obsessed with slurs of "khokhol" vs. "katsap", "moskal", "vata", "sovok", etc.). In this way, use of the word "Ruthenian" (which means Rusin) is both more ethnographically/historically accurate and constructive. Even though many Rusins heard the term in the United States for the first time.

Yes, indeed Middle Polish and "Ukrainian" are most definitely related. One has to remember that the Ukraine and Galicia were under the domination of Polish landlords for centuries, men who resisted the efforts of the Ruthenian brotherhoods and intentionally kept Ruthenians they reduced to chatel ignorant, illiterate. Over the centuries, polonization created a linguistic pseudo-morphosis, the result of slavery and oppression. The Ruthenian Brotherhood schools were created to promote literacy and native letters and combat systematic, enserfed Polonization, to liberate Ruthenians from the yoke of a foreign invader. This is the crux of the matter which separates the Ruthenians/Russophiles from the "Ukrainians": recovery of the heritage of Rus' versus continued and legitimized Polonization.

Thank you for your interests. I have met Byzantine Catholic Rusins who were leaving or had left Greek Catholicism and were Russophiles. Indeed, some of their reasons were that they felt they were losing their heritage and their link to a common, Russian people. I asked my question to see if there were still some in existence in the Greek Catholic church to appreciate how they were preserving their ethnos, how they were passing it on, how they saw or desired the future for our common Russian and Ruthenian (Russo-Ruthenian) people. I am overjoyed that some Byzantine Catholic clerics are Russophiles still, albeit in cognito.
Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 08/18/17 04:58 PM

Slava Isusu Khristu!

I wrote a lengthy and grateful response but the moderators of this forum decided that expression of Russophile sentiment here was something they would not allow. For this I am personally sorry. I wish you all the best and thank you.
Posted By: Mark R

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 08/24/17 06:34 AM

Slava na viki!

Thank you for your thoughtful observations and other heavy lifting on this subject. Ethnicity is not the most important thing, however it is good to have a sense of self and ethnicity is part of that. FWIW, plenty of Russians are totally secularized and those abroad are quite comfortable with view that as they succeed their identity will dilute into their new home countries. Even many of the old White emigration's descendants have blended in with the upper middle class in the U.S. or England unless they were brought up in clerical families. What is more important is faith in Christ and in his Church.
Posted By: RussoRuthenianOGC

Re: Are There Any Byzantine/Greek Catholic Russophiles Left? - 09/03/17 01:13 AM

CHRIST is in our midst!

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

From my perspective in the OCA, I can say that an almost shaming of Ruthenian and Russian heritage has contributed to and exacerbated the secularization you rightly say is a grave threat. It has limited our missionary outreach to new immigrants. It has kept other Orthodox jurisdictions divided from unity with our canonical, local church. It has created an idea of Orthodoxy as "babushka's old world, un-American Church". It has created a climate of legacy parishes versus convert parishes at odds over where they agree which only seems to serve the interests of people who embrace secularization, Americanization.

I by no means advocate a return to a foreign ethnos operating under the idea of exile and temporary presence in the West. What I am emphasizing is discovering a common heritage to re-establish a shared religious and cultural unity in the West to stand as a bulwark in the face of secularist onslaught and cultural degeneration. Too many people in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth generation have no idea of their heritage and, hence, no respect for it. So it follows that religious institutions linked to that heritage become foreign to them and subsequently are abandoned as irrelevant.

In the West, Orthodoxy is a foreign arrival and its witness is firstly natural to those immigrants and their ancestors who brought it to these shores. This witness involves a holistic cultural transformation where ethnic distillation accommodates Orthodox identity and conversion of the heterodox. This cultural transformation offers and operates as an alternative worldview to prevailing, Western societies. This transformation necessarily embraces Orthodox ethnic heritages as well as the restoration of Western Orthodox identities and new Western Orthodox cultures in what some term "the diaspora". It enables Orthodox life, witness. It nurtures and fulfills witness, mission, and evangelization/formation of converts and reverts.
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