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Nie mozna zdradzic Ewangelii Rozmowy z abp. Ignacym Tokarczukiem.

Nie mozna zdradzic Ewangelii Rozmowy z abp. Ignacym Tokarczukiem

By Mariusz Krzysztofinski. Rzeszow-Krakow: Instytut Pamieci Narodowej Oddzial w Rzeszowie and Uniwersytet Jana Pawla II (ipn.gov.pl), 2012. ISBN 83-7629-348-6. 136 pages. Illustrations, bibliography. Hardbound.

The Roman Catholic Church played a decisive role in Poland's struggle against communism. While Primate Stefan Wyszynski's "non possumus" and Karol Wojtyla's efforts--as a cardinal building the Nowa Huta church, as Pope on the international cold war stage--are well-known examples of the Church's role in that struggle, other members of the Catholic hierarchy also played pivotal parts. A major figure in that struggle was Ignacy Tokarczuk, archbishop of Przemysl (1966-1993), who died in December 2012. His church-building program and vigorous support of the Polish opposition elicited communist invigilation through most of his thirty-three-year episcopal service.

Krzysztofinski's book consists of interviews with the archbishop. The first two chapters focus on Tokarczuk's birth, family, youth, and studies in the Kresy (Polish Borderlands) area including his ordination for the archdiocese of Lwow/Lviv and his early years as a priest, both in today's Ukraine and after his communist-induced exile in postwar Poland (Katowice, Olsztyn, and Lublin). The bishopric of Przemysl was his last appointment. The subsequent five chapters cover his service to Przemysl, with particular focus on his illegal church-building program that resulted in 400+ new churches built in the Przemysl diocese during his tenure; his pastoral work such as the Millennium of Christianity celebrations and relations with Greek Catholics/Orthodox; his relations with individuals in his diocese, including priests who collaborated with the regime; his activities outside the diocese, such as travels to Rome and his meetings in Paris with Kultura's Jerzy Giedroy?, especially concerning Polish-Ukrainian relations; and his support for the Polish opposition, including the rights of rural dwellers, encounters with Lech Walcsa, Jacek Kuron, and Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko. The book concludes with two chapters on Tokarczuk's meetings with Popieluszko and Pope Karol Wojtyla. It is profusely documented with extended notes and bibliographical citations that explain Tokarczuk's references and allusions.

Because of Tokarczuk's robust defense of Polish Catholics' rights to religious freedom he was the object of particularly harsh communist repression, ranging from refusals to allow him to travel abroad (his first ad limina visit was impeded for almost a decade), through physical attacks by unidentified perpetrators, to the secret police's elaborate planning in case of Tokarczuk's anticipated appointment to succeed Wyszynski as Primate. Because Tokarczuk advocated a good offense as the best way to defend Polish Catholic rights, he also sometimes proved inconvenient to some ecclesiastical circles, especially during the conciliatory Ostpolitik of Paul VI's later years. Tokarczuk discusses meetings in Rome with such key Vatican foreign policy figures as Luigi Poggi and Agostino Casaroli, who unsuccessfully pressured him to tone down his opposition to communism. Archbishop Tokarczuk's hardline helped save Cardinal Wyszynski from a fate similar to Hungary's Cardinal Mindszenty, who, as a result of an Ostpolitik deal with Budapest, was eventually sidelined in exile. In the interview Tokarczuk revealed that after Pope John Paul II's succession and the abandonment of the Casaroli pro-Soviet policies, Poggi himself eventually asked Tokarczuk's forgiveness for pressuring him.

Another interesting part of the book is the recurring theme of Polish-Ukrainian relations. Tokarczuk narrowly escaped death at the hands of the UPA [Ukrainian Liberation Army], and during his episcopate was sometimes criticized for taking over Greek Catholic churches in his diocese. In his defense, Tokarczuk argues that by taking over these churches, he actually saved these architectural treasures that would otherwise have been brought to ruin, as has been the case in Soviet Ukraine. He also addresses tensions over pastoral care of the Lemki people, who were largely located in his diocese and who claim separate identity (neither Polish nor Ukrainian). Finally, he notes that part of his diocese actually lay in Ukraine. This was a territory over which he was unable to exercise any pastoral jurisdiction, but because of his contacts with people there, "I knew that Russia faced the necessity of internal change, because otherwise there would have been an explosion within communism itself" (p. 68, my translation).

Scholars such as Sabina Bober in Persona non grata have recently devoted attention to Tokarczuk's role in ousting the most notorious institutions of communism. This book provides additional insight into this important figure and religion's role in bringing down totalitarianism.
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Author:Grondelski, John M.
Publication:Sarmatian Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2013
Words:721
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