Wednesday, 25 February 2015

News of Bishop Budka's Death Reaches Rome

New icon of Blessed Budka
from St. Basil's Seminary,
Stamford, CT

On 26 November 1956, the Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Church (known today as Congregation for the Eastern Churches) published a notice in it's publication, Servizio Informazione delle Chiese Orientali (Information Service of the Eastern Churches). The notice stated that word had finally reached the Vatican of the death, seven years previously, of Bishop Nykyta Budka. 

Recently, the source of this information was discovered in the Archives of the Congregation. On 28 September 1956, Archbishop Ivan Buchko, Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainian Catholics in Europe, sent a letter to the head of the Congregation, Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, stating:

I am only now able to confirm to Your Most Reverend Eminence, that I have definitively ascertained the sad news that, on the 6th [sic] day of October 1949, His Excellency Bishop Nykyta Budka, titular bishop of Patara, died in a forced-labour camp at Karaganda. The city of Karaganda is located at the geographical intersection of the 50th degree of latitude and the 73rd degree of longitude. [...]

Contrary to what had been claimed, until now, that he had been reduced by mistreatment to a state of semi-consciousness, these rumours have now proven to be false (and were probably spread by the Bolsheviks themselves). It is now known with certitude that he truly heroically endured all the persecutions and died as a Confessor of the Faith, while thanking the Lord for having allowed him to suffer insults for Jesus. [...]

The source of this information is not yet known. Following the death of Stalin, in 1955 Bishop Ivan Liatyshevsky was released from the gulag and allowed to return to western Ukraine. The following year, he wrote to Father Hryniokh that Budka had died, but did not provide a date.  On 20 January 1956, Pope Pius XII issued an apostolic letter entitled Novimus nos, to mark the millennium of St. Olha's baptism in 955. In the list of of addresses, the later Bishop Budka's name still figured, as the Apostolic See did not learn of his death until September of that same year.

Soviet documents discovered in the 1990s, allegedly reporting Budka's death and burial, give the date of death as 28 September, coincidentally the same date Buchko wrote to inform the Apostolic See.