Today marks the 75thanniversary of the Lviv pseudo-sobor, which took place from 8–10 March 1946. In the past 25 years, few English works have revealed new information in its regard. Based on recently declassified Vatican archival sources, this article seeks to make a modest contribution by revealing what, when, and how the Apostolic See of Rome learned of facts leading up to and resulting from that event.
During the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland (Western Ukraine) 1939–1941, Stalin fell back on old Tsarist plans to suppress the Greek-Catholic Churches. But attempts to entice clergy to defect floundered on the moral authority enjoyed by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. When the Red Army returned to Lviv in July 1944, the Metropolitan was already declining, and died within four months, on 1 November. With Sheptytsky out of the way, the NKVD operation was given the go ahead.
In the spring of 1945, as the Second World War was coming to an end, an Iron Curtain descended upon the eastern half of Europe. On the Old Continent, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC) found itself subject to atheist Communist rule in the east, and in the west, its clergy and faithful displaced across hundreds of refugee camps. In this moment, two projects were set in motion: the first, led by refugee Bishop Ivan Buchko though Pope Pius XII and the Vatican Curia, to raise the agonizing UGCC from the ashes of destruction; the second, concocted by Joseph Stalin and his henchmen, to destroy the Church once and for all.