Catholic Family News

This Month’s Edition

This month’s edition of Catholic Family News contains the articles listed below. Only a few of these are reprinted on this website. To read all of the articles contained in this month’s edition, choose one of our subscription options, each of which comes with access to the E-Edition of the paper so you can start reading these articles now.

February 2024 Contents

The Fiducia Supplicans Fiasco (Anthony P. Stine, Ph.D.)

Annually it seems that in the days leading to the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, the Vatican sees fit to issue documents that upset traditional Catholics and cause a storm of controversy. In 2021, days before Christmas, Cardinal Arthur Roche issued the infamous Responsa ad Dubia regarding “certain provisions” of Traditionis Custodes. December 18, 2023 was little different: one week to the day before Christmas, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez unleashed the now-infamous Fiducia Supplicans, which instructs priests to give “spontaneous” blessings to same-sex couples. This declaration caused the biggest firestorm of controversy in the Catholic world since at least Traditionis Custodes, if not since Amoris Laetitia. Interestingly enough, and in no way coincidentally, Fiducia Supplicans was issued on the Feast of the Expectation of Mary, which was on the Church’s liturgical calendar until the 1954 liturgical reforms. That feast asks the laity to reflect on what Our Lady was considering and feeling in her heart as she approached the birth of Christ. It is a feast associated with the perpetual virginity of Mary. The issuing of this document on this day continues the long tradition of issuing heterodox statements and declarations on Marian Feast days, including Traditionis Custodes on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16), as well as numerous Pachamama declarations on various Marian Feast days.

Classic Modernist Method

Fiducia Supplicans follows the classic Modernist method of shrouding heresy in orthodox language. The document begins with a basic reiteration of the Church’s perennial teaching on the nature of marriage being a sacramental union between one man and one woman, open to the begetting of children, and assures Catholics that “couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples” can receive a blessing “without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage.” These statements have provided defenders of the document with all of the ammunition they need to defend the document as orthodox. The problem is that the text explicitly states that the Church needs to rethink the nature of blessings. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Is Francis the True Pope? Revisiting the Debate, Part I (Matt Gaspers)

In December of 2023, Dr. Edmund Mazza hosted an online conference entitled, “‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ A Conference Seeking the Truth about the ‘Two Popes,’” the latter being a reference to Benedict XVI and Francis. Dr. Mazza has become known in recent years for promoting the position that Benedict XVI never validly resigned the office of Supreme Pontiff, and hence, that Jorge Mario Bergoglio was never validly elected and is thus an antipope.

Dr. Mazza was joined last December by Fr. Paul Kramer, Ann Barnhardt, and Elizabeth Yore, all of whom likewise maintain that Francis is an antipope for various reasons. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who has begun to question the validity of Francis’ election more recently, presented a keynote address during the conference.

Several years have passed since this topic has been covered in the pages of Catholic Family News. In light of Benedict XVI’s death (Dec. 31, 2022), as well as the recent conference and the prospect of another conclave in the not-too-distant future (Francis is now 87 years old and not in the best of health), it seems an appropriate time to revisit the topic, outline some of the main points of contention, and offer readers a refresher on certain key principles that should be kept in mind when it comes to this debate. My hope is that this will help readers better understand the central issues involved and provide greater clarity regarding the most pivotal facts.

Benedict’s Resignation

From what I have observed, it appears that most people who reject Francis as the Pope do so because they believe that Benedict XVI never validly resigned, which would mean that the See of Peter was not vacant when Francis was elected. Such individuals base their belief on an alleged convergence of evidence based on several texts — those from Benedict XVI (including some from decades before his pontificate) and others, read in light of two particular canons from the current (1983) Code of Canon Law — all of which proves to them that Benedict’s resignation was invalid, typically, for one of two reasons: (1) he did not use the correct Latin term in his Declaratio (resignation announcement) and/or (2) he held an erroneous understanding of the Papacy and was thus in “substantial error” when he attempted to resign. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*The Popes Speak* Excerpts from Leo XIII’s Encyclical Libertas on the Nature of Human Liberty

1. Liberty, the highest of natural endowments, being the portion only of intellectual or rational natures, confers on man this dignity — that he is “in the hand of his counsel” [Ecclus. 15:14] and has power over his actions. But the manner in which such dignity is exercised is of the greatest moment, inasmuch as on the use that is made of liberty the highest good and the greatest evil alike depend. Man, indeed, is free to obey his reason, to seek moral good, and to strive unswervingly after his last end. Yet he is free also to turn aside to all other things; and, in pursuing the empty semblance of good, to disturb rightful order and to fall headlong into the destruction which he has voluntarily chosen. The Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, having restored and exalted the original dignity of nature, vouchsafed special assistance to the will of man; and by the gifts of His grace here, and the promise of heavenly bliss hereafter, He raised it to a nobler state. In like manner, this great gift of nature has ever been, and always will be, deservingly cherished by the Catholic Church, for to her alone has been committed the charge of handing down to all ages the benefits purchased for us by Jesus Christ. Yet there are many who imagine that the Church is hostile to human liberty. Having a false and absurd notion as to what liberty is, either they pervert the very idea of freedom, or they extend it at their pleasure to many things in respect of which man cannot rightly be regarded as free.

2. We have on other occasions, and especially in Our encyclical letter Immortale Dei, in treating of the so-called modern liberties, distinguished between their good and evil elements; and We have shown that whatsoever is good in those liberties is as ancient as truth itself, and that the Church has always most willingly approved and practiced that good: but whatsoever has been added as new is, to tell the plain truth, of a vitiated kind, the fruit of the disorders of the age, and of an insatiate longing after novelties. Seeing, however, that many cling so obstinately to their own opinion in this matter as to imagine these modern liberties, cankered as they are, to be the greatest glory of our age, and the very basis of civil life, without which no perfect government can be conceived, We feel it a pressing duty, for the sake of the common good, to treat separately of this subject. Click here to continue reading

Keeping True to Principles While Resisting Totalitarian Restrictions on Free Speech (Brian McCall)

The American Communist Party, formerly known as the Democratic Party, pushed for censorship and oppression of free speech throughout 2023. Congressional hearings and the court case of Missouri et. al. v. Biden brought into public view the efforts of the Orwellian White House team to silence any dissenting views from the approved narrative. Times of such totalitarian persecution are dangerous for Catholics. In legitimately resisting such illicit oppression, we can be tempted to compromise on principles. In the face of persecution, we can become tempted to endorse liberal errors so as to forge alliances with classical liberals to resist the persecution. It is into this trap that the progressives led the more traditional Fathers of Vatican II.

In this article, we will first see how Vatican II fell into this trap and then review the clear teaching of the Church on the natural right to freely speak in contrast to the civil right.  We will then conclude by explaining how we can simultaneously resist unjust persecution while upholding the Catholic doctrine that error has no rights.

The Trap of Religious Freedom for All

The majority of Council Fathers were rightly concerned with the persecution of Catholics behind the Iron Curtain. Almost 500 Fathers signed a request for a document to denounce atheistic communism. Yet, the crafty progressives persuaded the more traditional-leaning Fathers that the safer course of action to protect persecuted Catholics was to come to terms with liberalism. If the Council accepted the tenets of classical liberalism, which had been condemned by a string of popes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, then the Church could work with fellow travelers to buy some freedom for the persecuted Catholics. If the Church endorsed a natural right to religious freedom for all men (embodied in Dignitatis Humanae), as opposed to the freedom of the Catholic Church (Libertas Ecclesiae) to pursue her divine mission, then classical liberals would help obtain freedom for the Church in totalitarian lands. As a result, the Council had its 1789 in the Church and accepted the error that error has rights.

The Church has always taught that no human power can restrain the Church from pursuing her divine mission to convert all nations. Libertas Ecclesiae means that the divine Church of Christ has, by divine right, the freedom to preach, sanctify, and govern her members and work for the conversion of all outside her jurisdiction. The origin of this right is the obligation of the Church to pursue this mission. Since she must act towards these ends, the Church must have the liberty to do so. This right is not shared by false religions, which may only be tolerated but have no right to practice their false worship. Libertas Ecclesiae does not flow from man or the dignity of human nature but from God. Christ, in establishing the Church, gives her this right. The right is divine, not human. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Review of Michael Knowles’ Speechless (Theresa Kallal)

If there is one book to help Traditional Catholics understand the tactics of the enemy and win the political fight for restoration of goodness, truth, and beauty in their country, it is Michael Knowles’ Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds. The Daily Wire talk-show host and graduate of Yale, originally known for his wordless bestseller, “Reasons to Vote for Democrats,” now impresses Americans with his extensive use of vocabulary as he explains the reason behind the hypocrisy that has permeated every aspect of American life: political correctness. Knowles exposes the intentional misuse of language employed by liberals over the past century to manipulate society. Political correctness, or “PC” for short, per the dictionary, is “a conformity to a body of liberal or radical opinion on social matters, characterized by the advocacy of approved views and the rejection of language and behavior considered discriminatory or offensive.” The author, however, proves the definition of PC to be much more precise and concise, calling it speech that “contradicts the underlying meaning of words.” With a couple hundred citations backing his claims, he shows how this misuse of language is even more alarming than passing bad legislature, or rioting in city streets, because it is the root canal of these problems and more.

Knowles’ emphasis on the power of speech is derived from two positive and negative examples, laid out in the beginning of his book. He cites the words of the ancient philosopher, Aristotle, and the text of the influential author, George Orwell. Aristotle uttered the famous truth that man is “a political animal,” meaning that on the most fundamental level of his nature, man needs to function within and as a society, and Orwell put this truth to theory in his novel, Nineteen-Eighty-Four with the invention of the “politically correct lexicon,” Newspeak. Knowles shows that political correctness today is an echo of the dystopian novel, whose government sought to control the way people think and act by controlling what they say. In the third chapter of his book, “Cultural Hegemony,” Knowles explains the roots of political correctness in cultural Marxism, which denies moral principles and seeks to brood revolution, through “the concrete action of men … [to] transform reality.” He cites the philosophies of Antonio Gramsci, a Marxist imprisoned by Mussolini, and Niccolo Machiavelli, an Enlightenment thinker whom Knowles calls “the prince of political immorality,” as the foundations of political correctness. They emphasized Marxist revolution not so much by physical but cultural force, which Gramsci called “cultural hegemony.” They understood the wisdom of Aristotle and the foresight of Orwell: since man naturally needs to commune with others, control the most fundamental way in which he does that — speech — and you control him. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

“In the Fullness of Time”: The Providence of Our Lord’s Incarnation (Phillip Campbell)

One constant message of the Sacred Scriptures is that the times and seasons are in the care of God’s wise providence. When David is persecuted by his enemies, he prayed, “I trust in thee, O Lord … my times are in Thy hand” (Ps. 31:14-15). David recognized that affirming God’s custody over the “times” is an act of trust in His providence. “God has made everything beautiful in its time,” says Solomon (Eccles. 3:11), commenting on the seasons of man’s life. This idea is reaffirmed in the New Testament. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Christ says that even the most minute of circumstances of life are all part of a grand design: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will” (Matt. 10:29). The takeaway is that nothing “just happens” in this world. The entirety of the created order — with all its causes and effects, its interrelated web of contingencies — is all part of a divine order.

If something as seemingly insignificant as the death of a bird is subject to the inscrutable providence of God, surely the same applies to events of much greater import, such as the rise and fall of nations or the scientific progress of mankind. How much more, then, would it apply to the events of salvation history, around which the entire drama of humanity revolves?

This line of inquiry inevitably brings us to consider the timeliness of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ during the reign of Augustus Caesar. Clearly, God specifically selected this time in history as the opportune moment for the revelation of the Word made flesh. St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians offers a tantalizing hint of Paul’s awareness of this truth when he writes, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law: that He might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).

What does St. Paul mean by this phrase, “the fulness of time”? To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

A Medievalist Manifesto (Joseph Apuzzo)

Yves Congar, whom Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre described in They Have Uncrowned Him as a “periti at the Council” and, “with Karl Rahner, the principal author of the errors that I have since not ceased combatting,” once wrote that the post-conciliar Church would happily “cut the chains that had kept it on the shores of the Middle Ages.” He insisted that one “cannot remain fixed on one moment of history!”

We Traditional Catholics accept Fr. Congar’s metaphor. We agree that the chains have been cut and that the Barque of St. Peter has been cast adrift. We differ from him in believing that it must be brought back to land. We follow Archbishop Lefebvre in asserting that the medieval “moment of history” — the “moment” of scholastics, crusaders, and guildsmen — is no mere “moment” at all, but in fact the living civilizational root out of which will bud forth in our time and in times to come the fulfilment of that petition, “Thy kingdom come,” the Kingship of Christ.

This process of regeneration must be twofold: theological and cultural. Even prior to the Council, revolt against the modern world had been a 19th-century Vatican institution, culminating in the pontificates of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and ultimately St. Pius X, each of whom were stalwarts of Tradition athwart the rising tide of Modernism. Though these popes were chiefly concerned with theology and philosophy, subjects seemingly remote to most laymen, they were yet keenly aware that ideas have social consequences, as the Age of Enlightenment had made forcefully evident. As they worked to restore traditional notions of governance, theology, and the liturgy, they did so with an eye towards political and economic affairs to a far greater degree than their pre-modern predecessors. These days, the medieval Catholic tradition which they handed on has been received by none other than the Society of St. Pius X, whose patrimony was made explicit by Archbishop Lefebvre’s choice of namesake.

The medievalism of the SSPX has long been recognized by scholars. James C. Russell, in his 1994 book The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity, observed that the basis of “popular support” for traditionalist movements like Lefebvre’s is essentially “religiocultural”: religious insofar as it embraces the Traditional Mass while rejecting the New, and cultural for implicitly signaling a return to the image of the medieval Church, when she was the “popular expression of European Christianity.” Anywhere one looks, today’s Catholic traditionalism is intimately associated with the Middle Ages, just as it was in the days of post-Enlightenment, post-revolutionary Europe. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Ut Unum Sint and Mortalium Animos on Ecumenism: Can They Be Harmonized? (Brian Mershon)

In last month’s column, I explored the Catholic Church’s authoritative doctrine and pastoral practice regarding Christian unity and the subject of ecumenism. Much of that column explored Satis Cognitum, an incredibly clear catechesis (as is characteristic of Pope Leo XIII’s teachings) on the true nature of unity. Satis Cognitum was promulgated on June 29, 1896.

As Leo XIII explains, the Church is one and her unity emanates from her true doctrine. He also exhaustively explains that the Church is inherently visible. This unity and concreteness are included in the four marks of the true Church founded by Christ — one, holy, Catholic and apostolic.

“If we consider the chief end of His Church and the proximate efficient causes of salvation, it is undoubtedly spiritual; but in regard to those who constitute it, and to the things which lead to these spiritual gifts, it is external and necessarily visible” (Satis Cognitum, n. 3).

The same Pontiff also wrote: “Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles and their successors to the end of time to teach and rule all nations. He ordered the nations to accept their teaching and obey their authority” (ibid.).

John Paul II on Ecumenism

Now, let’s fast forward nearly 100 years latter to Ut Unum Sint (“That they all may be one”), issued by Pope John Paul II on May 25, 1995, a 60-plus page encyclical that covers a multitude of subjects regarding the Church’s “irrevocable” commitment to ecumenism and which John Paul II describes as a primarily pastoral document. Of course, pastoral applications must reflect true Catholic doctrine, and we have all heard about the so-called “pastoral” nature of the Second Vatican Council, only to recognize nearly 60 years since the close of the Council that the pastoral approach has been used to disintegrate Catholic dogma and doctrine, most especially, regarding the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the Church there is no salvation”).

In simple terms, the Fathers of Vatican II approved a text in Lumen Gentium describing the one true Church as “subsisting” in the Catholic Church (LG, 8) while the Church always and everywhere previous to this attempted updating of the nature of the Church taught that the one true Church is the Catholic Church (see, e.g., Mystici Corporis by Pope Pius XII). Of course, the entire Council’s focus was designed to be as open and ecumenical to non-Catholic Christians as possible, which impacted the post-Conciliar liturgical revolution and allowed ecumania to run amok (providing bad examples of what the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism called “a false irenism,” as evidenced in too many instances by the Pope who authored Ut Unum Sint). To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

Fatima and the Season of Lent: The Great Spiritual Warfare (Marianna Bartold)

“Make of everything you can a sacrifice, and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners…Above all, accept and bear with submission the suffering which the Lord will send you.” Those words of the Angel of Fatima are tidings which should stir compunction in our hearts, not only during Lent but throughout the year.

In addition to the Church’s penitential disciplines for the Advent and Lenten seasons, the lives of the Fatima children are exemplary examples of daily prayer, penance, and sacrifices to God. Why did they do this? It was due to the purposes given to them, first by the Fatima Angel and then by the Mother of God. Can we not do the same?

In many ways, the three Fatima children were akin to truly innocent souls in a convent or monastery, while the Virgin Mary was their Abbess or “Mother Superior.” They heard and understood what was asked of them. As they strived to carry out God’s will, they prayed for each other, encouraged each other, and confided in each other.

When the Virgin first appeared to the children, she asked: “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to bear all the sufferings He will send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?” The children, through Lucia, replied, “Yes, we are willing.” The Mother of God then said, “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

In July, after giving the Great Secret of Fatima, Our Lady taught these children something that we, too, can practice: “Sacrifice yourself for sinners, and say many times to Jesus, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” Initially the children became mindful of “offering it up,” which eventually taught them to also gracefully bear suffering which they could not avoid. Without letting anyone else know (not even their own mothers), these young children gave up their humble lunches to other poor children; while shepherding under the hot Portuguese sun, they abstained from drinking water; they secretly gave away treats like a fresh bunch of cool grapes, and they did not partake in simple pleasures (like figs) which were offered to them. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

*Apologetics Series* Msgr. Fenton’s Handbook on Catholic Apologetics: The Resurrection (Matthew Plese)

The Credibility of the Catholic Faith

At last, we draw near to the conclusion of the Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton’s seminal work on apologetics, Laying the Foundation: A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics. As we have seen throughout this series, he was an intellectual giant in the field of theology who persisted in his noble ministry until he departed this life in July of 1969. He spent the waning years of his life attacking from the pulpit the resurgent Modernist forces then afflicting the Church. We are privileged to have his wisdom as we continue to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) he bravely waged unto his dying breath.

Msgr. Fenton opens Chapter 19 of Laying the Foundation by summarizing, based upon the preceding chapters, the inherent credibility of Catholic dogma:

“The evidence of the signs of revelation is amply sufficient to show that Catholic dogma is really credible for what it claims to be, a message from God to man, supernatural both in the manner in which man has received it and in its central and essential content. Since the subject matter of divine faith is something which can be scientifically demonstrated as credible, then it follows that the act of faith itself is eminently a reasonable and prudent human operation. Beyond this conclusion the science of apologetics, properly so called, does not advance.

The positive proof supposes, as does every other section of fundamental dogmatic theology, the transcendent and all-important fact that a personal God really exists.”

Msgr. Fenton continues:

“This God can be known with certitude and can even be demonstrated in the natural light of reason by the things that are made; that is by the visible works of creation as a cause is known and demonstrated through its effects. This is the great and all-important fact upon which the proof of credibility is based.

Since God is infinitely perfect in understanding and in will, He knows all the circumstances which surround the performance of one of His miracles. He could not possibly perform a miracle which is attached to a doctrine that He knows to be untrue. The true motive of credibility is a seal of the divine approval. When it is performed in support of a doctrine that claims to be divinely revealed, it constitutes the best possible indication that God Himself has actually given this teaching to men. The existence of a God Who is infinitely wise and just can be and is demonstrated with absolute certitude by an examination of naturally ascertainable evidence. We have the most perfect historical evidence to the effect that Jesus of Nazareth preached a definite and distinct doctrine, claimed that this teaching was divinely revealed, and then adduced motives of credibility plentifully sufficient to demonstrate the validity of His claim. We have naturally attainable scientific historical certitude that the Apostles and their successors proposed the very doctrine that Jesus had given and then offered ample evidence of its divine origin with manifest signs of revelation. Finally, the existing Catholic Church, as it is, constitutes a great and spectacular miracle in the social order. An infinitely wise and just God could not have allowed these things to happen in support of an erroneous assertion.”

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Pope Pius IX: The First Modern Pope, Part I (Mark Fellows)

The pontificate of Pope Pius IX had many firsts. For instance, his pontificate began a tradition of popes, and the Catholic Faith, being smeared by a new organ of society: the press. In this sense, he was the first “public pope.”

His pontificate exceeded in length the 25-year pontificate of St. Peter. There was a belief that no pope would ever exceed the reign of Peter the fisherman, the only pope to walk with Jesus. But Pius IX’s 32-year reign is the longest of any pope, including John Paul II.

Pius IX — better known to many as Pio Nono — was the first pope to solemnly define papal infallibility, to the absolute scorn of the European press, who vilified him as a reactionary absolutist, a sore loser grasping for power after the papal states were (illegally) stripped from the Church’s governance.

Other losses included another first: the loss of Rome itself, which was swallowed up by the “unification” of Italy: an innocuous term used to disguise the violent and bloody land grab of the papal states and Rome. All that was left to the Church was the building of the Vatican, of which Pius declared himself a “prisoner.” Pius’ successors also regarded themselves as a “prisoner of the Vatican.” It was not until 1929 that the Church and the Italian government signed a concordat giving Rome back to the Church.

Pius IX was the first pope to solemnly declare and affirm what Catholics had believed for centuries: that the Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived and preserved from original sin. A few years later this declaration was “ratified” when Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France, and declared: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Pius IX had a great devotion to Lourdes and a private correspondence with St. Bernadette. His devotion was amplified by successive popes, and today Lourdes is the most visited religious shrine in the world.

This is the short version of events. Volumes could be — and should be — written about Pio Nono: his remarkable courage in the face of unrelenting violence waged against him for decades; his remarkably generous and affable personality; his numerous and prodigious charitable deeds; his great holiness; his deep and sincere forgiveness of his enemies; and his consistent, outspoken proclamations of the Catholic Faith that encouraged Catholics around the world, even in the face of bitter opposition.

It is hoped the following brief synopsis will encourage readers to study Pope Pius IX in more depth, an activity sure to be edifying. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News

The Struggle for the Kyivan Patrimony (Murray Rundus)

Despite being completely overshadowed by the ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine, the Ukraine-Russia war wages on, with thousands being killed and displaced because of it. Much of international politics still surrounds this issue, and for Catholics to have a truly well-formed worldview, understanding the conflict is vital. The dispute over who should rightfully control the lands of modern-day Ukraine and Russia has been a point of contention between the Slavic nations for many centuries and is a question largely centered on religious, ethnic, and political identity. Having a grasp on what those identities are and how they came about is the key to understanding the current crisis.

Too often, the debate and overview of the current crisis begins with Soviet history, a useful polemic that manages to take Christianity completely out of the picture. In reality, the conflict is centered around how Russians and Ukrainians view themselves in respect to the ancient Christian “Kyivan Rus” and its institutions. It is only through viewing Ukrainian and Russian history through the lens of the Christian faith and how Jesus Christ transforms nations through Christian institutions that we might understand how Providence has been deeply involved in the region, which we know will eventually culminate in the conversion of Russia, and the bringing about of peace.

The Origins of the Contention: The Kyivan Rus’

The root of the contention between the two cultures can be found in the contest for who is the rightful inheritor of the legacy of the Kyivan Rus’ which is “the state established in the tenth century by princes of the Rurikid dynasty that disintegrated into a number of polities after the Mongol invasion of the mid-thirteenth century.” The Kyivan Rus’ controlled much of what is now Ukraine and Russia in Eastern Europe. Since the beginning of the Kievan Rus’, there was a struggle among the Rus’ peoples to establish a common identity. The early empire was composed of several Slavic-speaking tribes who acquired the name of Rus’ after they invited Viking warriors called Varangians, led by the Rurikid dynasty, to rule over them. Among the pagan Rus’, there was not an established common pantheon of gods to provide religious unity and on the political level centralized authority was not visible.

Two Views of History

For many Russians, the Kyivan Rus’ was a unified Russian nation, defined by a unified and strong Russian culture. There were subgroups within this Russian nation, like Belarussian and Ukrainian elements, but all were really variants of that Russian culture. For the Russians, the term “Ukrainian” is simply a fabrication and therefore a Ukrainian state is illegitimate. Much of their perspective was developed by Vasily Klyuchevsky. He saw the East Slavic peoples as containing the “Great Russian” and the “Little Russian” peoples, which are the Russian and Ukrainians, respectively, both of which he claimed to come from an “All-Russian” Rus’ nationality.

Those promoting Ukrainian claims tend to follow a new strain of thought from Mykhailo Hrushevsky in the early 20th century. Hrushevsky radically challenged the traditional Russian view and said that the Kyivan Rus’ was actually proto-Ukrainian. Proponents of the Ukrainian perspective will make the claim that the Kyivan Rus’ was essentially Ukrainian and that there were differences even during the time of the Kyivan Rus’ between the people living in modern-day Ukraine and the people living in modern-day Russia. To continue reading, subscribe to Catholic Family News