The Greek-Catholic parish clergy in Galicia, 1900-1939
Between 1900 and 1939 the Greek-Catholic parish clergy in Galicia underwent a transformation of its social, national, political and cultural consciousness. In part this was the result of the political changes taking place in the province, as its Ruthenian population developed a Ukrainian national consciousness expressed during the interregnum between Austrian and Polish rule by the creation of the Western Ukrainian Popular Republic, and later, in the increasingly restrictive atmosphere of inter-war Poland, by the activity of both moderate and radical nationalist groups. In part this transformation was conditioned by the decline of the priestly caste and the rise of a new type of priest, usually a celibate of village origin. The transformation was also the result of a conscious programme initiated by Metropolitan Andrei Sheptyts'kyi to raise the moral and educational level of the clergy. To this end he reformed the L'viv seminary, established a theological academy, and organised full seminaries in Stanyslaviv and Peremyshl'. This prepared the parish priest to deal with a growingly nationalistic and often anti-clerical intelligentsia, and a village coming increasingly under its influence. At the same time, the parish clergy evolved a new sense of its identity, gradually abandoning the Russophile orientation of the Old Ruthenians and adopting first Ruthenian populism, then Ukrainian nationalism. Thus they found common cause with the secular intelligentsia. However, the Ukrainian orientation forced them to redefine the Eastern Ukrainian tradition in a manner compatible with Catholicism, and to formulate their stance towards Orthodoxy and the Kievan Byzantine tradition. Though split between Byzantinists and Westernisers, the clergy developed a strong sense of their place as leaders of Galician Ukrainian society, albeit in occasional competition with the nationalist intelligentsia, and of their mission as bearers of Catholicism in the East.