The fate of the Catholic clergy in USSR 1917-1988 - discussion panel

On 13th December 2017 Sybir Memorial Museum hosted two outstanding specialists in the history of the Catholic Church in the East: Rev. Fr. Prof. Roman Dzwonkowski and Rev. Fr. Prof. Tadeusz Krahel. The priests appeared during the panel discussion the fate of the Catholic clergy in USSR 1917-1988.

Discussion panel was opened and moderated by the director of Sibir Memorial Museum professor Wojciech Śleszyński. He reminded the audience of one of the defining features of the communist system - aggressive anti-confessional activity. The panelists debated later on the ineffectiveness of the actions of the Soviet authorities, the role of the clergy in upholding the faith and the fate of priests in the Soviet empire.

The task of the Soviet system was to create an atheist society, eradicate faith in God. This goal was consistently implemented, but it was not finally implemented – explained at the beginning Rev. Fr. Prof. Roman Dzwonkowski.

Rev. Fr. Prof. Tadeusz Krahel recalled the figures referring to the exiles of priests serving in the Vilnius archdiocese. He referred to a number of examples (taken from sources) of the repressed priests, who were a testimony of faith for fellow prisoners, exiles and even their executioners.

Rev. Fr. Prof. Roman Dzwonkowski claims, that the clerics' stay in the Gulag labour camps was priceless morally, spiritually and religiously for people similarly repressed. The priests secretly confessed them, comforted, and celebrated masses…

Catholic priests played a significant role in saving the Jewish population. Rev. Fr. Prof. Tadeusz Krahel spoke about examples of such activities in the Vilnius archdiocese. On our lands (in contrast to occupied Western Europe) for helping Jews, capital punishment was at risk – the speaker pointed out. Saving a family, or even a single man required the involvement of a whole group of people.

The discussion panel accompanied the exhibition "Mój Bóg był cierpliwy…” (My God was patient ...).

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