These were the last words of Bishop Iuliu Hossu on 27th May 1970 in Bucharest.

He was a Romanian Greek Catholic bishop who was arrested by the Soviets on 28th October 1948. He was a prisoner until he died. He and six other Romanian Catholic bishops were arrested and held in prison and camps until they died. They suffered from isolation, cold, hunger, disease, and hard manual labour. Most of them were never tried or convicted and were buried in unmarked graves without religious services.

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Bishop Iuliu was secretly named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI. This fact was not published until after the bishop died. Pope Francis declared all the bishops “Blessed” on Tuesday, March 19.

There is a striking similarity between the Romanian Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

As eastern Europe is recovering from the effects of the Soviet era, it is very necessary that all of us who understand and sympathise show some awareness and solidarity.

Pope Francis recently said that the Romanian bishops died because of the “hatred of the faith” of the communist former regime. That’s what happened in Ukraine by the exact some soviets.

On 1st October 1948 the Soviets called on Assembly of Cluj, where 36 Romanian Catholic priests were forced to break their union with the church of Rome and to liquidate their church. All the bishops were arrested before that as happened in Ukraine at the infamous meeting in Lviv in 1946.

Then the persecution began. Romania’s story and Ukraine’s Ukrainian Catholic followed very similar histories. Simply the persecutors lived at the same address in Moscow.

Romania’s story and Ukraine’s Ukrainian Catholic followed very similar histories. Simply the persecutors lived at the same address in Moscow.

Today the Romanian Greek Catholic church has over half a million members. It has eight bishops, over 1225 parishes, over 800 priests and 235 seminarians. There is a small diaspora with parishes in Canada, USA and a parish in Australia.

They are having a real struggle to get their former properties back from present authorities. Their internal situation in Romania is in many ways very difficult.

As eastern Europe is recovering from the effects of the Soviet era, it is very necessary that all of us who understand and sympathise show some awareness and solidarity.

Remember the Romanian Greek Catholic Church in your prayers.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM

This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper

This post is also available in: Ukrainian