Mgr Konstantin Budkiewicz (1867-1923)
I have been reading a very interesting book, ‘The Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity’ by Captain Francis McCullagh, published by John Murray, London, 1924.
McCullagh (born 1874 in N.Ireland, died 1956 in New York), was a British Catholic journalist, who in the early days of the Revolution, had been imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, but subsequently escaped. He was an experienced war correspondent and a fluent Russian speaker, and early in 1923 he was commissioned by Frank Munsey, editor of the ‘New York Herald’ to travel to Russia to obtain first -hand information on the relationship between the Bolshevik government and the Christian Churches; and this book dedicated by McCullagh to Munsey, is the result.
Dedicated to Mr Frank Munsey
Owner and Editor of the ‘New York Herald’
who, by sending me as his correspondent to Russia,
enabled me to obtain the facts set forth
in this book.
‘I might add that no individual and no Government, and no religious, political, or other organization is behind this work, or has given any assistance towards it, or has even promised to buy a single copy. It is published under nobody’s auspices or patronage; and both the author and the publisher could have devoted themselves to work which would be more profitable to them financially. F.McCullagh.’ (London, September 14, 1923)
McCullagh deals initially with the take-over and politicizing of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Bolshevik government. He then follows this with a full account of the State trial which opened on March 21, 1923, of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Achrida, John Cieplak; Monsignors Maletzky and Budkiewicz; Exarch Fedorov, head of the Uniat Church; eleven priests and one Catholic layman, all charged with offences against the State; viz. refusal to hand-over church valuables- which included the Eucharistic vessels, from churches and religious houses, to agents of the State; also teaching the Catholic faith to children and young people, both in church and in their homes.
The result of this travesty of a trial, held in the former ‘Club of the Nobility’ now the ‘House of the Red Labour Unions’ near Opera Square, Moscow, which lasted a mere five days from March 21 to March 25, 1923, was a finding of guilt for all the accused, with Archbishop Cieplak and Monsignor Budkiewicz sentenced to death, and varying terms of imprisonment for the remaining defendants, ranging from 10 years in solitary confinement, to 3 years; with the one lay defendant sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.
Monsignor Budkiewicz was executed (murdered - shot in the head) in a cellar, during the night of 30/31 March, the night of Good Friday/Holy Saturday. As a result of international outrage and condemnation of the trial, the death sentence on Archbishop Cieplak was commuted to one of 10 years imprisonment in solitary confinement.
The author completes his work with an analysis of all the Christian Churches in Russia at that time, concluding with the destruction and virtual dissolution of the Russian Orthodox Church, which included the murder of 28 Bishops and 1200 priests, leaving the Catholic Church alone possessing the spiritual strength to withstand and survive prolonged State persecution.
The book is 400 pages long and contains a wealth of information, with a particularly full and detailed account of the Cieplak 'trial', in which I was struck by the similarities in many of the Bolshevik policies regarding the relationship of State and family, to those of our secular governments in the West today. It seems incredible, but nevertheless logical, that Marxism would eventually synchronise with atheistic secularism, confirming McCullagh’s view that Bolshevism and 'Big Business' are ‘natural’ allies.
Trotsky, Lenin, Kamenev. 5th May 1919.
Extracts from ‘The Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity’ by Francis McCullagh (1923)
‘The trial opened on Wednesday, March 21,1923, under the Bolshevik Judge Galkin. The look of extreme hatred conveyed by Galkin towards the accused – ‘glances so charged with intense malignity that, if looks could kill, they would cause instant death.’ ‘The world wherein for the moment I found myself was animated by that same passionate intolerance which had led the Roman mob, the Roman officials, and even the Roman intellectuals of Trajan’s time to loathe the Christians with a fury so immeasurable as to embarrass and alarm even Caesar himself.’
‘If the Soviet government orders me to act against my conscience, I do not obey. As for teaching the catechism, the Catholic Church lays it down that children must be taught their religion, no matter what the law says. Conscience is above the law. No law which is against the conscience can bind’ (Exarch Federov, head of the Uniat Church in Russia, defendant in the trial of Archbishop Cieplak and others, replying to government prosecutor, the Procurator Krylenko, March 22, 1923)
‘The worst feature of the Bolshevik persecution of Christianity is not the imprisonment and murder of priest and laymen, but the attack on family life. The new laws on marriage and on the education of children, which a Commission in the Department of Justice is now preparing, are deeply tainted by that most atrocious doctrine of radical Communism – namely, the doctrine that children belong absolutely to the State, and must be handed over to State institutions. Children who have not reached maturity (eighteen years) are regarded as belonging to no religion whatsoever, and the assertion of the parents that the child belongs to any particular Church has absolutely no force.’
‘The teaching of religious beliefs in State or private educational establishments and schools to children of tender age and to minors is punishable by forced labour for a period not exceeding one year’ – clause 121 of the new Criminal Code. (p53)
‘Moreover, apart from its frontal attack on the Church, the Soviet Government had trespassed on parental authority and on the home to an extent which no Christian prelate should have permitted without a public protest, which would have resounded throughout Europe and America ........ I refer, among other matters, to the questionnaires on sexual questions which are sent out by the Commissariat of Public Health. One such questionnaire was sent in the Spring of 1923, to all women and adolescent girls in Moscow, and these were required by law to fill it up. Most of the questions related to self-abuse and to unnatural vices, with which the compilers of the questionnaire had apparently no quarrel’
‘Catholicism is detested by autocratic rulers, which included the Tsars and the Bolsheviks.
Writing in 1819, of the hostility of Alexander I to Rome, Joseph de Maistre says, “There is in the teaching of the Catholic Church, an hauteur, an assurance, an inflexibility which displease temporal rulers, who cannot believe that they are master, or sufficiently master, where there exists a power with which they cannot do as they please. It never occurs to them that this pride and this independence are the natural and necessary characteristics of truth, so much so that where independence does not exist, truth does not exist. Truth is invincible, independent, and inflexible.It is said in the Gospels that the peoples who heard the preaching of the Saviour were astonished because He did not speak to them like their doctors, but as one having authority.The religion which has not this tone is human."
'Big Business and Bolshevism are natural allies, and they are likely to come together sooner or later, for the oppression of the poor, and of those priests whose place is with the poor, as their Divine Master’s was.’
‘In their rank materialism, in their genuine contempt for such tenets of Christianity as they cannot utilize for political or financial purposes, in their efforts to relieve parents of the care of their children and children of the care of their parents, to interfere in the home, to put asunder those whom God has joined, to exclude religion from the schools, to reduce the workers to a state of servitude, ....to erect the State into a sort of divinity, some European governments outside of Russia are entering on the same path as that along which the Government of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (R.S.F.S.R) has already advanced’
‘On November 18, 1922, the ‘Anti-Religious Seminary’ was opened in Moscow. This seminary, which has a special anti-religious library, is intended for the careful training of ‘propagandists and agitators in religious questions’. It consists of practised propagandists from Moscow and the provinces, as well as of comrades who have only recently turned their attention to the question of anti-religious lectures. All are, as I said before, under the experienced direction of old, anti-Christian orators, and of professors learned in natural science; and all are taught how to make their points to the best advantage from the platform and how, at the same time, to convey real information to their hearers.'
At the Seminary, the Prospectus will be as follows:
1. Faith and Knowledge. 2. Religion and Morals. 3. Origin and Growth of Religions. 4. History of Christianity. 5. Church and State. 6. The Reformation in the West and in Russia. 7. Natural History: a) The Universe, the Solar System, the Earth.; b)Origin and Growth of Life; c)Origin of Man; d) Prehistoric Man. 8. Religion and Marxism.” (Comrade Kucherin - writing in Izvestia, November 18, 1922)
NB. Unbelievably, the prospectus reads almost like that of a traditional Catholic seminary. If the reality was not so evil, it would almost be laughable!
'Salvator Mundi' - (Saviour of the World)
The events reported by Francis McCullagh occurred nearly 100 years ago, yet although we may no longer consider Russia as ruled by a tyrannical government, Communist totalitarianism certainly lurks beneath the surface. China and North Korea, particularly the latter, are under the iron rule of merciless Communist regimes, totally anti-Christian, where the rule of law is as bad, if not worse, than that of Bolshevik Russia. Communism is not the only threat to our Christian civilisation, consider those countries suffering deadly persecution by Islamic extremists throughout the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia; also the growing threat from rampant materialism and ever more powerful capitalism. Increasingly, the powerful of this world turn their backs on God, ignoring His Commandments and denying His sovereignty, deliberately setting themselves up as masters of the universe, formulating their own 'morality' to suit their aims, with the power of money corrupting and leading men and nations to self-destruction and perdition. Our Lady has told us that many souls are lost through sins of the flesh, yet western governments and the United Nations are blatantly endorsing programmes opposed to Christian moral principles:- world-wide provision of contraception and abortion facilities; promoting homosexuality and same-sex marriage; inappropriate 'sex-education' for school-children, world-wide, etc. Poorer nations are under pressure to accept these programmes, even though they do not want them, for fear that they will be refused other vital economic aid.
Francis McCullagh died in 1956, spending the last years of his life in hospital in New York, having been found three years previously wandering the streets suffering from early dementia. Since his Russian exploits, his life had taken many turnings, including assignments as a war correspondent, in Mexico, Spain, and Tripoli, subsequently writing books on his experiences. His courage and integrity in his work, made him friends but also enemies in high places. He was strongly critical of the Mexican government for its' brutal persecution of the Catholic population, and equally critical of the role played by the American government in supporting it. His reports were ignored by the American media whose interests they did not serve. He was equally critical of the Italian invasion of Tripoli, shocked by their treatment of the Africans, Jews, and Muslims of Libya, he accused the Italians of being, in effect, in league with international bankers, and despite his own profound religious convictions, extended this charge to the Italian Catholic Church which had enthusiastically supported the invasion. In 1911, his experience of warfare provoked a reaction and re-assessment of his own sense of values, and in a pamphlet published by the World Peace Foundation that year, he strongly criticised the emerging global armaments industry and the capitalists involved, "for their power is tremendous, their wealth almost unlimited, and their patriotism nil"
Ack. 'The Bolshevik persecution of Christianity. by Francis McCullagh.
'Studies - Irish Quarterly Review (2009)'
NB. I hope to post again on this outstanding Catholic journalist.