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Блог Зиновія Свереди


13.06.2016, 11:36
We may do everything if we have strong faith.

Socio-Economic Conditions in the ХІХcentury.

The features of "social depression" were every time more intensified with the emergence of a feeling of failure to influence the authority. People had comeout of the serfdom, but the serfdom had not come out of them. They believed in the emperor who could make their lives better, believed in institutions, but did not believe in themselves. They gave the right to choose to different monopolists.

Each time, injustice in the distribution of land and natural resources increased. Two thousand of landlords received 52% of the land, and a couple of millions of peasants – about 40%. A peculiar echo of the serfdom was the monopoly of the landlord to alcohol (propynization), there were still servitudes (common use of pastures and forests), and the issue of salary of unpaid labor of peasants was not resolved. It was hard to protect theirrights because of total corruption in the courts and clanism; in financial affairs, people were faced with a monopoly and a speculative class. All these facts undermined the emotional health of people and became a good ground for such a social disease as alcoholism. And all this took place at the time when they opened more than 23,269 taverns, the money circulation of which reached about 54 million Rynsky, while salary income was about 110 million.

Actually, peasants and workers were led to the forced bankruptcy because of “usury”. Hard work did not give result. Many people migrated to other countries abroad in the saerch for better life – to Canada and the USA. 

Even at the elections citizens were disenfranchised through constant manipulation and lack of forms of protection of their rights.

The reason and at the same time the result of the social crisis was the lack of education. In order to understand some socio-political processes and, moreover, influence them, people should base on some kind of knowledge, values and principles. The Ukrainian people lacked unity to be freed from the oppression of monopolists, corruptioners and masters. "Separate and rule" - these words were true on the example of Ukraine, divided into the East, occupied by the Russian Empire, and the West, occupied by the Austrian Empire. The Metropolitan Andrey perfectly understood all the consequences of colonialism, and one of his tasks was to transform the people "with a split of quarrels and ideologies into a strong, organized mature organism that holds a worthy place among the peoples." The basis of such a transformation was the dissemination of biblical doctrine and commandments.

 The beginning of the Ukrainian renascence from the Word of Truth  

The first actions of the Ukrainian Church for the people after the fall of serfdom began with the actions of sobriety (1873) – the taverns went bankrupt, where 50% of the market funds circulated. 

The Church also created two banks, which, however, were artificially brought to bankruptcy through the hired management. Bankruptcy was warned, but only in the German press, which the peasants did not read and therefore could not timely withdraw their money.

 At that time the community “Prosvita” was created, on the local level – the first credit banks, shops, other companies. The first wave of reorganization of the priesthood begins, but by 1891, ideas, education and capital were lacking.

  1. Under these circumstances, the social mission of Church became especially crucial, Andrey Sheptytskyy defined it as following: to call for a primary sense of trust and to revive people's faith in oneself. In contrast to the bad news that exacerbated the depression, Sheptytskyy decided to distribute the Good News, show people an alternative, share experiences. Being ordained to the Stanislavskyy Bishop, he made a tour around the mountain villages and showed pretty high level of preaching among the priesthood. The ignorance of doctrine and social theology would be a barrier to the fulfillment of the Church's social mission. Being a qualified manager,  the Metropolitan knew that any weakness could be transformed into resource. Then he decided to write the Epistles in the form of short thematic sermons in a simple and accessible language and send them to the parishesto build a common priesthood and people's position on the Church's activities. Later, his epistles were supplemented with practical advice – he began to prepare instructions of 10-20 pages on creation of church cash registers, cooperatives. This is the beginning of the Church's publishing activities: published scientific literature, business brochures, as well as the publication "Missionary", through which the vision of the social mission of the Church is formed. Biblical teaching contributes to the reform of values, consciousness and outlook of a man and people.

Hence the relationship between religious classes, economics and banking, and the social sphere was established. Spiritual mobilization gave practical result.

The internal reform of the Church 

In the years 1891-1898, the first reforms of the Church took place: 

- Transformation of the “Prosvita” community  from the cultural into the socio-economical one. 

- Publishing activity for the people.

- The reform of the theological and seminarian education:  success of the Church depends on the social and mission education of young seminarians, improvement of education.

Andrey Sheptytskyy thought the first thing that needed to be changed was to teach preaching, and not just academic knowledge, in theological high schools. Any kind of knowledge is valuable in case it brings the social good, but does not focus only on the person. A priest should be able to think, to state thoughts and to persuade. No wonder the ancient Greeks and Romans studied 4 main subjects: phonetics, rhetorics, dialectics, and logic.

The agriculture courses in beekeeping, gardening, horticulture, cooperation, accounting were established for seminarians. According to the plan of the Metropolitan, having moved to the village, such a priest will be able to gather people, teach them craft or good deeds, while preaching the Good News that a Christian can never be poor. This was natural, because a person who gave up alcohol, refused to smoke tobacco, could save more, control his money and direct them to good deeds.

 The parish infrastructure was developed – on request of the Metropolitan, communities, reading halls, sports organizations, schools, public shops, cooperatives and other important institutions were established at the parishes. 

The Church introduces the financial planning of the Metropolitanate and the main expenses of the Metropolitanate for education and the development of youth organizations from 1901 to 1914 – the creation of church and public capital.

Due to the strengthening of the community, the surfdom begins to bankrupt. There is an insight that landlords are not so much needed by people as people – by landlords. Another discovery was that the true elite, true leaders of the people appeared at common prayer, in a joint search for truth. Christian principles united people in the fight against populist slogans and ideas.

Sheptytskyy was focusing a great attention on the work with youth, as it is the future of  the country. The best period, when you can influence the personality – is the age from 12 to 18 years. According to the Metropolitan, the best university for a child is a creative atmosphere in the family. He took care of the formation of Christian education systems at the parishes, the development of public education, affordable even to the poorest families, promotion of sports and healthy lifestyles, the foundation and support of youth organizations (youth praying communities at the parishes, sports communities “Sokil”, “Sich”, “Plast” ant others). At the same time social youth cooperatives and organizations were established (groups of joint purchases, youth mutual banks, reading halls, educational clubs). 

«I should worry about your physical and spiritual health, my people, as I know, that only healthy and physically strong nations can be happy»,- the Metropolitan wrote. 

In order to revive the whole people for creative work and to free them from colonialism, he acted strategically, creating a holistic cycle of activity from the parish to the metropolitanate. His tactics was to bring people to the Church with the means they need and value, to create conditions for the maximum participation of the believers in public life.

Sheptytskyy considered the Church and the people to be the unified organism. A person could not be morally healthy, if he did not take full participation in public life and personal responsibility, he considered. Disorganization and competition among people hurt a common cause for public good.

  1. One more problematic factor, in his opinion, is the disunity between church institutions or social structures, a certain closure that leads to loss of potential. Sheptytskyy saw the power of the Church in the organic unity of her structures: its mission, performance and ability to constant evangelization depended on it. Therefore, the internal reform of the Church has become an example for the  successful reforms of Ukrainian society at the time.

The interdependence between the reform of the Church and the revitalization of socio-economic changes can be traced back to the level of reorganization of the parishes. The Metropolitan was convinced that the parish is not only a building, but a well-organized community, a youth Christian organization, sports societies, a store, a reading hall, a library, and a school. It is a community that can organize cooperatives (consumer, agricultural, forest, milk), experimental centers for gardening, horticulture, beekeeping, microbanks of savings and planning. The development of the parish and the community infrastructure is the foundation of a strong Church.

A prayer is the best tool for reforms. In a joint prayer, the Ukrainian people sought spirituality and ideals, brought up future generations and recognized the leaders of those who adhere to ethics and commandments in dialogue with God.

 The Ukrainian Church becomes the “Window to Europe” 

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church became the so-called “window to Europe” in the diplomatic, religious, cultural, educational and social spheres. It was disadvantageous for those who wished to colonize and ensnare people in different ways. The church was chased not only from the East but also by many countries of the West, because its rite, world outlook, as well as the priesthood determined the identity and defended the rights of the Ukrainian people. The Church was the basis and school of the local democracy of communities. At parishes, people acquired not only spiritual but also practical experience in organizing economic activity and transferring it to public life. For the XIX century and up to the liquidation of the UGCC in 1946, almost all social, educational, economical and political movements, parties and institutions were founded or run by the representatives of priesthood. The priesthood was in pain for the destruction of his people, lived in such conditions, therefore, they were not afraid to be reformers and to lead people’s protests in search of an alternative to the liberation of the faithful.

"The people and the Church are strong in spirit and faith: it was in the geographical center of all world disasters and wars of the first half of the twentieth century and survived for 40 years of underground activity under communism."Education of the people, possession, spirituality – three factors that have formed a unique heritage of the people’s memory, who have fought down totalitarianism. "We have a mission to overcome communism ..."- Sheptytsky's words are still relevant.

He set the task of transforming the people, "separated by quarrels and ideologies into a strong, organized mature organism that has its place under the sun."The people would step on the path to freedom, when it would be united by the idea of renascence. Sheptytskyyalso funded and assisted Orthodox priests and intellectuals in activities in imperial Russia (about 1 million Austrian crowns for 456 people) and in the interwar period (2 337 people – 4 million 320 thousand Zloty).

The result of his informational campaign and the internal refom of the Church is worth mentioning. Since 1990, 90% of all leaders of the Ukrainian renaissance (from political, economic, cultural and social life) are graduates of the institutions supported by the Metropolitan and the UGCC. 95% of the youth who went to protect the ZUNR (Western Ukrainian People’s Republic) are members of youth associations at parishes.

At the request of the UPR (Ukrainian People’s Republic) government to head the Ukrainian Church, the Metropolitan refused, noting that the first conductor of the Kyivan Church should be a bishop from the Orthodox Church. Instead, he saw his mission in the process of "Europeanization", establishing relations with the world and recognizing the interests of the Ukrainian Church and the people, as he wrote in his epistles and showed on the example of activities in Europe and around the world.

Achievements of the first informational stage of the Ukrainian renascence   

 The Church's strategy was aimed at the needs of the people, on developing their ability to protect their rights. It is the Christian doctrine that educated people about the idea of social solidarity and daily cooperation, the readiness to organize themselves and the common defense of their interests. The community unity was a prerequisite for the creation of an independent people's capital and funds, the establishment of alternative institutions and organizations. 

Sheptytskyyintroduced the concepts, which left behind the teaching of the entire Catholic Church in 50 years, especially the social doctrine. In particular, he called the institutions that made money on the poverty of people “the institutions of evil”. He formulated the notion of "organized sin" as a conscious destruction of a man. All this was the result of colonialism, which consisted in disdain for a man. At the same time, the Metropolitan stressed that power was given by God not for dominance, but for service. Democracy, that needs to be raised on Christian values, is the future. He explained that poverty – a lack of education multiplied by monopoly power institutions for which creative and smart people – is an obstacle to domination. Besides, poverty – is the ignorance of own potential and social isolation (individuality). Ideologies without God serve to justify robbery of the people.

Sheptytskyy understood that a new outlook on values was needed for the people's reform: "Only this society is rich and powerful, in which all, or almost all, according to their state, are wealthy". The middle class was formed this way. Keeping of the principles of spirituality and morality became important in agriculture activity: “Everyone who wants to enrich on the misery and pain of our other fellowmen is shameful and disgusting in the sight of God”. 

In his first works and pastoral epistles, the vivid critique of socialism, which leads the people to ruin, the monopoly of the ruling class at the criminal level, as well as the criticism of capitalism (large capital destroys states and social systems rather easily) was described.

The main reason is that in communism and in capitalism, there is the danger of forming groups that monopolize power for their own domination and their children (either a political party or large banks). Other people become passive observers of their own lives. Sheptytskyybelieved that the poverty of the people wasalso a consequence of the fact that the people didnot participate in management. This was manifested in the bankruptcy of church banks, when people did not know how to use their funds and could not control them.

 The success of any reform is not in super-ideas or developed institutions, but in the participation of people in the discussion. Otherwise, the law – is the lobbying of the interests of the closed authority groups for the sake of their domination. Democracy – is the only right way in economics. The believers invested their money – they were part of the management of the audit commissions in the communities, parishes, and later also the national church banks. That is, they participated in managing, planning, and using profits for the sake of the common good.

In order to implement the social wealth, you have to define the social interests. So there comes a mature stage of renascence, when solidarity of communities, capital, and institutions are in place.

 Sheptytskyy createdthe grounds for “financial revolution”

The speculations and forced bankruptcies of banks incited the Metropolitan to create the grounds for a peaceful financial revolution and reforms. He decided to create his own financial institutions, and turned out to be a skillful banker, whose first step was foundation of the church bank “Dnister” - due to the organizational work he enlarged the money circulation in 22 times till 1914. Sheptytskyy was the first to use the notion “people’s capital” and worked on its build-up. His success formula wasquite simple: the mobilization of circulating capital + the rational use of the resources of the territory and the region, multiplied by the use of existing opportunities in work and professionalism of community members, which generatedhigh productivity, quality and solidarity in their unions.

As a result, about 2000 microbanks, 15 regional unions, 6 main people’s banks (“Dnister”, Land Mortgage Bank, Ukrainian Shchadnytsia, The House of Savings in the town of Stryy, Carpathian Bank, City Credit Union “Nadiya”) were founded at the parishes. Sheptytskyy bought out the shares of other banks: Vienna Bank, Baslerbank, Holland Credit Industrial Union. 

91 % of peasants, parish communities and poor workers and 1,3 % of priests became the shareholders of the banks. The Metropolitan wanted people to become well-organized employees at the unions in order to protect their interests, and at the same time – co-owners of the institutions, where their money is kept.  

Sheptytskyy as a cooperator

Andrey Sheptytskyy actively developed the cooperative movement. He was the honorable president of the Revision Union of the Ukrainian Cooperatives. Owing to the activity of Sheptytskyy, Galiciabecame the peculiar “cooperative republic”: 84 % of all parishes and communities, 1 420 000 parishioners belonged to cooperatives. In addition, the Metropolitan was the honorable president of UUMI (Union of Ukrainian Merchants and Industrialists), which was active mostly in Volyn region during the interwar period. About 5 000 entrepreneurs of small and middle business were members of the union. 

The National Credit Union received approximately 10,000,000 crowns from Sheptytskyyin 1904 (a guarantee against Basler Handelsbank and Boden Credit Anstalt at the expense of its own property). The total amount of loans provided for cooperation from the Metropolitan was about 40,000,000 Austrian crowns.

Church became the active member of the financial reform of the nation. The National Revision Union embraced517 cooperatives, 228 managers werepriests (till 1914). The moral recovery of the nation influenced the financial result. 

The priesthood began a struggle against the speculators who overestimated the prices for some products in 4 to 10 times. The Ukrainians were not allowed to the markets in cities, so Sheptytskyy together with the authorized person Tyt Voynarovskyy created new markets within the possessions of the Church – 12 small and 4 wholesale for cattle and crops. 

In 1898 near Zolochiv the group of priests founded the union “The Peasant Master”, which was run by the housekeeper Tyt Voynarovskyy for several times. Priests bought the equipment for farming and conducted farming courses for peasants. Until 1914, the priesthood ruled up to 70% of all institutions.

In 1904 in the town of Stryy Father Nizhankivskyy and a group of priests founded the “Butterunion”, where afterwards were employed about 3 000 specialists, 205 249 peasant family farms belonged. The ready made products were exported abroad. 

For 5 years, without any grants and subsidies from the state (as opposed to other cooperatives), “Butterunion” and “Centrounion” controlled about 54% of the products exported to Poland.

Since 1917 Andrey Sheptytskyy was the head of the Austrian Government Commission on rebuilding the Western Ukraine after the war ruin. The mentioned program suggested investment fund, road building, rebuilding of cities and villages, industry projects. The priesthood Commission worked out the program on the basis of statistic data from parishes. 


Sheptytskyy as an educator

 Education became the tool against the policy of colonialism. “We are not permitted to open university in Lviv, so we shall open universities in every village. Education – is where people need it”, - we can read in the letter by the Metropolitan Andrey to the lawyer Gvozdetskyy. 

In the Western Ukraine 246 experimental centres of gardening and agriculture were created, famous guest-professors from the Vienna Agriculture University were invited. They had to change the conservative approaches in the agriculture, which turned out to be non-competitive to the European ones. Sheptytksyy repeatedly mentioned that “free peoples live in science and inventions, while the colonized ones – in traditions and are not able to compete...”

The students were invited to take courses in horticulture and gardening, then they spread the obtained knowledge in agriculture organization and industrial matters in their villages. The education was mobile enough – two days of trainings and 4 days of fixing skills in practice. 

Andrey Sheptytskyy also was the honorable president of the Ukrainian Pedagogical Society. He managed to take education out of the university. He supported and financed 1541 people’s schools, helped catholic and orthodox churches, scientists all over Ukraine. Even Hryshevskyy was receiving the scholarship from Sheptytskyy for ten years, and so were doing the scientists and professors from Naddnieper Ukraine in the Czech Republic (1430 people) in the years 1920-1930. 

Here we have the dynamics of the Metropolitan’s initiatives: the year 1910 – 85 branches, 317 circles, 12 500 people of educated youth; 1911 – 92 branches, 944 circles, 24 667 people of educated youth; 1912 – 90 branches, 1151 circles, 26 612 people of educated youth; 1913 – 88 branches, 1324 circles, 32 352 people of educated youth. 

Sheptytskyy as an investor and an entrepreneur 

 Owing to the investments of Andrey Sheptytskyy, many factories, industrial projects, churches and schools were being built in Lviv. He also financed railway laying at a distance of 120 km, allocated 7 000 000 crowns for investments in 4 sugar factories, confectionery and match factory, as well as a factory for processing naphthalene (near Drohobych).

Sheptytskyy said, that the property of the Church should serve the people, and it was divided according to the following formula: about 30% of the shares – the ownership of workers who were interested in the quality of labor, since they received both salary and income from shares; about 30% - the property of the Church (profit – for education and the poor), about 30-40% - various   financiers (a dialogue was established for the coordination of interests, when everyone is interested in cooperation). The Metropolitan gave about 400 million dollarsto different charitable projects – beginning from education to the formsof social investments and credits to poor families. 

It is worth noticing, that the total value of the property, the Soviet regime impressed from the Ukrainian Church and the Metropolitan, amounts to about 13 550 000 000 dollars (not including precise calculation of the oil deposits at the possessions of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, gold and shares of the foreign companies, without the assessment of the property in Westerly-Sild and many more less significant possessions from each parish).

People were the goal, not the tool for Sheptytskyy. Many people, who met him, changed their lives. Due to the faith in God and everyday consistent work, the Metropolitan and the Church was changing and creating the history, but was not the subject of its influence. 

Modern Ukraine has to know truth and concrete facts of the history. After revolution of Dignity, young generation need practical examples of the realization of their ethical and moral values in daily life. Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyy and many priests demonstared how to be christian and to be active citizen in the society dispute of any regime. 


Zinoviy Svereda,

Doctor of social economics

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