Almost annually the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), sponsors the Bohdan Bociurkiw Memorial Lecture, with this year’s lecture taking place on December 6 at the University of Alberta (U of A). Marco Carynnyk delivered the lecture after being introduced by Jean-Paul Himka the director of “The Research Program on Religion and Culture” of CIUS. The provocative title of the lecture was “Ministers of Righteousness? Greek Catholic Clergymen and Poles and Jews during World War II”. Both Carynnyk and Himka belong to a cabal of pseudo-historians, of which Himka is a ringleader.
In assessing the appropriateness of the speaker and the contents of his lecture, some background on the late Prof. Bociurkiw will provide guidance. He taught political science (1956-69) at the U of A with emphasis on Soviet politics, Soviet Ukraine and church-state relations. In 1969 he moved to Ottawa to Carleton University where he taught until 1992, and where he founded the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies, serving as its first director. He was a founding father of CIUS and after his death his family donated his books and archives to CIUS establishing the Bohdan Bociurkiw Library. This was a coup for CIUS and the library remains a valuable research resource.
In his youth Prof. Bociurkiw became of member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), was arrested by the Polish secret police and later imprisoned by the Gestapo for his activities in that movement, ending up in the Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany. After the war he immigrated to Canada where he completed his studies before becoming a professor. Throughout his life he belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), and the magnum opus of his scholarly work was a book entitled “The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the Soviet State (1939-1950)”, published in 1996, which dealt extensively with the liquidation of the UGCC after WWII by the Soviet government. He was highly esteemed not only in academic circles, but throughout the Ukrainian Diaspora, regardless of organizational or religious affiliation.
In introducing Carynnyk, Himka credited him with “outing” Walter Duranty the notorious American journalist who provided false accounts of the Holodomor, and whose positive assessments of Stalin’s Soviet Union, influenced America’s decision to grant diplomatic recognition to the USSR.
Silly me! I had believed that the people who exposed Duranty were people like: Malcolm Muggeridge, Gareth Jones, Joseph Alsop, Zora Witkin, and Robert Conquest. Himka’s misrepresentation of history was indicative of what was to follow.
Carynnyk began his talk by indicating that “Ministers of Righteousness” is a biblical reference taken from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians(11-15) which refers to “False Apostles”. For a minute I fantasized that Carynnyk would expose the current Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), led by Patriarch Kirill, who has anointed Putin (the “Butcher of Chechnya”), a “gift from God”, and hoped he might explain how the ROC works with Putin to undermine Ukrainian national identity, Russify Ukraine, and undermine the aspirations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in all of its manifestations, and the UGCC. I even fantasized about him exposing the Russian campaign of attempting to create divisions in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada. But alas, all Carynnyk ultimately showed was that his claim to the distinction of “false apostle” is greater than anyone he referred to in his lecture.
Using a photograph of Jews (according to him) hurriedly carrying a stretcher bearing the corpse of a Ukrainian victim of the NKVD in a cemetery, he highlighted that there were two Ukrainian Studite monks in the background watching all of this and doing nothing, suggesting that they were accomplices to what was transpiring because they seemed indifferent. The photograph did not show who may have been standing guard with guns. Perhaps he expected the monks to lift their cassocks, pull out guns and put a stop to whatever was happening. He chose the most slanderous explanation without considering that the monks may have been there to bury the dead, perform a panakhyda and seal the grave, in accordance with Ukrainian Catholic rites. They may also have been there to bear witness and ensure that nothing worse would happen. Priests beware! Someone may photograph you in a cemetery and 70 years later suggest you were indifferent to the plight of the pall bearers and the deceased.
Carynnyk has only a BA in English literature, which might qualify him to write fiction, but he seemed unaware of history. Blessed Hieromartyr Klymentiy Sheptytsky, Archimandrite of the Studite monks of the UGCC, martyred by the Soviets in Siberia, is included in “The Righteous among Nations” at Yad Vashem in Israel, together with another Studite monk, Daniil Tymchyna. They were not indifferent monks, and saved Jews during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, where harbouring Jews was punishable by death, as it was in Poland. Perhaps Carynnyk only wanted to cast a negative light on His Eminence Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, former Patriarch of the UGCC, once considered a papabile (worthy of being elected Pope) in 2005, who also served as Archimandrite of the Studite Monks, from 1978 to his elevation to Patriarch of the UGCC in 1995. Such facts may be unknown to Carynnyk but are easily accessible on the internet, and should have been researched before criticizing the Studite monks.
Not content to limit himself to only one Sheptytsky brother, Carynnyk went on to insinuate that Servant of God, Metropolitan Archbishop Andrey Sheptytsky, was also an indifferent accomplice to the plight of Jews under the Nazi occupation, disregarding the fact that he is credited with personally saving hundreds of Jews, and issuing a pastoral letter “Thou shalt not kill” protesting Nazi atrocities. If Carynnyk reads newspapers at all, he should have been aware that on April 24, 2012, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion honouring his courageous efforts to save Jews. This was done in the presence of a delegation from Ukraine consisting of leaders from various religions, including the Jewish Chief Rabbi, Islamic Mufti, Roman Catholic bishop, president of the Evangelical Baptists, and the heads of the both the Autocephalous and Kyiv Patriarchate Ukrainian Orthodox churches, together with Patriarch Sviatoslav of the UGCC. The only major religious leader missing was the Orthodox Metropolitan of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine. The event was facilitated by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE), which seeks healing of the past and forging improved relationships.
Carynnyk included allegations of atrocity by OUN, by quoting from a Jewish woman’s testimony in which she stated that members of OUN engaged in atrocities against Jews. When asked how she could know that someone was a member of OUN, which was an underground conspiratorial organization organized on the basis of five person cells, whose identities were only known to each other, and whose members did not wear any insignia, tattoos, or uniforms and were sworn to secrecy about their membership in OUN, he simply replied that many members had been deconspired and their identities were known in 1941. His explanation showed that his analysis and facts are counter-intuitive, as members of OUN had been hunted and persecuted by the Polish secret police from 1929 to 1939, then again by the Soviet NKVD during from 1939 to 1941, and again soon after the Nazi invasion by the Gestapo. An actual member would not come out as a member of OUN because this was contrary to the oath he/she took and would put them in danger of arrest and death. There may have been wannabes who falsely claimed membership to impress others, but other than those who had been outed by the police and convicted, true members would have kept their identities secret.
In commenting on the scholarly work of Prof. Bociurkiw, Carynnyk stated that Bociurkiw had been “forced” to overlook the history of the UGCC during the Nazi occupation. By innuendo he implied that it was now he, Carynnyk, who would fill this void. When confronted by a question asking who had forced Bociurkiw to overlook history and that no one could force him to overlook anything, Carynnyk simply replied that Bociurkiw had not had access to archives and documents that are now available. This answer disclosed another distortion, as Prof. Bociurkiw did indeed have access to Soviet, Ukrainian and church archives after 1992 until he completed his magnum opus in 1996.
Carynnyk droned on for almost one and a half hours, and despite the provocative title of his lecture, and his comment that he would disclose the attitudes of nuns, monks, and laypeople showing them to be anti-Semites; he failed to provide credible evidence to support his theory. Indeed, many Poles and Ukrainians had negative attitudes towards the Jews, and as Carynnyk stated, “Jews considered Poles and Ukrainians, as the scum of the earth”. He simply related several instances where Jews were mentioned in church archives, innocuously, and did not provide any credible evidence that Ukrainians or Poles were possessed by “exterminationalist anti-Semitism”, of the kind pursued by the Nazis. Carynnyk seems to believe that he has discovered America with his research, but does not at all delve into the reasons for mutual antipathy among these groups. The quote of American philosopher Henry Thoreau comes to mind: “There are a thousand men hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking as the root.”
Most revealing of his bias and attitude on the topic was his statement that “Saints should always be guilty until proven innocent”. Unfortunately, he seems to ascribe to the pirate’s adage, “Dead men tell no tales”, and it is unimaginable how anyone that Carynnyk defames can ever prove they are innocent as they are all dead and easy targets for revisionist history. In most civilized countries, where there is rule of law, it is always incumbent on the accuser to prove guilt of criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. It is too easy to defame dead people, knowing that they can’t defend themselves, and Carynnyk’s lecture, and his other scandalous writings, reveal a propensity to accuse without proving, and convict by innuendo and not credible evidence.
Carynnyk is working on a book entitled, “Furious Angels: Ukrainians, Jews, and Poles in the summer of 1941”. If the lack of substance in his lecture and conviction by innuendo are any indication of how his book will turn out, then I suspect he will have trouble finding a reputable publisher to publish his book. In case he is unfamiliar with the “Russkyi Mir Foundation”, a propaganda arm of Russia’s government, I suggest he contact them and they will surely publish his book. He need not thank me for this suggestion.
Carynnyk and the cabal of pseudo-historians he belongs to, constantly moralize and profess to be champions of the truth, but fall short of this goal themselves. Surely, if one criticizes others for lack of righteousness then one must live up to one’s own standards or risk being perceived as a hypocrite. If one criticizes someone for being an accomplice through indifference, and yet himself is indifferent to the plight of Ukraine today, and focuses on past injustice without speaking out against current injustice, then the best advice that can be proffered to such people is “Physician heal thyself!” which can be the only advice applicable to Carynnyk and others in the cabal. However, I doubt that they will engage in introspection unless someone gives them a research grant to do so.
Putin’s Russia is waging a campaign of brotherhood, the fratricidal brotherhood of Cain, against Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation. They finance a fifth column in Ukraine to undermine Ukraine’s independence, and resort to “soft power” to pursue this campaign, with the ultimate goal of reincorporating Ukraine into a renewed Russian empire, or at the least, partitioning Ukraine so that some oblasts reincorporate into Russia and others remain in a smaller Ukraine. In waging brotherhood, Russia leaves no stone unturned resorting to economic, political, cultural, educational, linguistic and religious weapons. The recent language law in Ukraine granting Russian greater status, is merely the tip of the iceberg.
In waging this campaign of brotherhood, Russia also resorts to defamation, disinformation and distortion as it did during Soviet times, when the most efficient Soviet industries were espionage, terror and propaganda. Historical memory is important to building national consciousness and state building. Russia seeks to distort historical memory to widen fissures between oblasts in Ukraine, to create dissention among the people of Ukraine and to create a negative image of Ukraine before the world. The age old tactic of “Divide and rule” is again being used to create friction among various minority groups in Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation, including but not limited to Ukrainians and Jews. Carynnyk and his fellow travelers from the cabal of pseudo-historians assist Russia in this process.
The identity of the members of the cabal is well-known as are their writings, which cannot all be refuted in a single article as it requires a book, and many have already addressed many of their allegations. Himka is a ring leader of this cabal and abused his position as director of “The Research Program on Religion and Culture” of CIUS to invite his crony and fellow member of the cabal, Carynnyk, to deliver this lecture, presumably using scarce CIUS resources to pay him an honourarium.
Customarily, memorial lectures in honour of renowned deceased scholars should do them honour and not cause them to proverbially spin in their graves. Prof. Bociurkiw’s memory deserved much better than this travesty. Notwithstanding that Himka went behind the backs of other CIUS officials, ultimately the leadership of CIUS must address the fiasco that transpired, which brought the reputation of CIUS into disrepute.
When groups such as the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, financed by a major contributor to CIUS, James Temerty, and educational institutions such as the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, are working to improve relations between these two groups, then surely CIUS should not sponsor lectures which are counter-productive to such projects. CIUS should recall their own publication, “Ukrainian-Jewish Relations” published in 1988 which resulted from a “conference on Jewish-Ukrainian Relations” which took place in 1983, and of which CIUS was one of the joint organizers.
Surely, the famous quote from Queen Elizabeth I of England, that “The past cannot be cured” can provide some insight for CIUS. The words of Israeli president Shimon Peres, delivered during his recent visit to Ukraine, words that were too narrowly interpreted by some, “Too much attention to history can impede thinking about the future and prevent steps that are really important today.” When the stated mission of the U of A is “The uplifting of the whole people shall be its final goal”, the Carynnyk lecture failed miserably in furthering this goal. This lecture should be the swan song of Himka, and the words of a song popularized by Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli and English soprano, Sarah Brightman, entitled “Time to Say Goodbye” should be sung by CIUS.