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  • Обратная уния: из истории отношений между ка- толицизмом и православием в Российской империи 1840-1873
  • Karen Weber (bio)
Михаил Долбилов, Дариус Сталюнас . Обратная уния: из истории отношений между ка- толицизмом и православием в Российской империи 1840-1873. Вильнюс: LII leidykla; Инсти- тут истории Литвы, 2010. 274 с. Именной указатель. ISBN: 978-9955-847-32-8.

While researching Russification and confessional politics in the Russian Empire's Northwest Provinces, Mikhail Dolbilov and Darius Staliunas discovered an undated and unsigned proposal in the files of the Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii in Moscow (GARF) and the Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv in St. Petersburg (RGIA). The proposal, which had been made well-known through a revised edition published in French in 1873, called for the union of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches in the Western provinces. It entailed rejecting the authority of the pope and subordinating the Catholic Church to civil institutions. In Obratnaia uniia: iz istorii otnoshenii mezhdu katolitsizmom i pravoslaviem v Rossiiskoi imperii, 1840-1873, Staliunas and Dolbilov uncover the mystery of the proposal's creators through a rigorous examination of documents relating to the project. Ultimately, [End Page 476] in accounting for why this project was never implemented, Dolbilov and Staliunas trace the limits of the reciprocal relationship between the government and the empire's "foreign faiths." The book concludes with more than 150 pages of well-annotated transcriptions of archival documents that support the authors' complex and compelling analysis.

To discover the origins of this proposal, Staliunas and Dolbilov conducted an extensive search of archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and France. Dolbilov and Staliunas note that the GARF and the RGIA copies of the plan are written in a clerk's handwriting, and neither copy is signed or dated. Based on surrounding documents in the GARF file, Staliunas and Dolbilov date the project to the summer or fall of 1865. Marginalia on the RGIA copy indicate the involvement of Archbishop Antonii, who was the Uniate suffragan bishop of the Lithuanian diocese until 1839 (P. 35). After the dissolution of the Uniate Church, Antonii served as the head of the Orthodox Diocese of Minsk and Bobruisk until 1848. Like other former Uniate hierarchs who had adopted Orthodoxy, Antonii hoped to convert Catholics to the Orthodox Church. Dolbilov and Staliunas detail two plans Antonii proposed for church union in order to highlight the evolution of Antonii's ideas and compare them with the 1865 proposal.

As in the 1865 plan, Antonii attested in 1840 that the Catholic nobility would be willing to initiate the removal of the Catholic Church from the jurisdiction of the Pope. The church could then be placed under the authority of the Holy Synod (P. 24). Once the nobility had joined Orthodoxy, serfdom would facilitate the conversion of the Catholic peasantry (Pp. 26-27). Dolbilov and Staliunas demonstrate that Antonii's views on the conversion of Catholics to Orthodoxy evolved after the emancipation of the serfs. In November 1864, Antonii suggested that officials focus on converting peasants, not noblemen. Antonii now called for a "patriotic missionary society" to undertake a mass conversion of the peasantry. Staliunas and Dolbilov note that Antonii's recommendations corresponded to a popular belief that civic engagement would bring about the desired "confessional engineering" (Pp. 20, 48, 76) of the Catholic population in the Western provinces (P. 31).

Although the 1865 project was attributed to the ideas of Antonii, Staliunas and Dolbilov provide evidence that Antonii did not work alone. In order to identify other contributors to this plan, Dolbilov and Staliunas turn to Evstafii Prushinskii (Eustachy Prószyński), a Catholic and the representative of the nobility of Minsk. As Staliunas and Dolbilov explain, Prushinskii had authored [End Page 477] own proposal for the creation of a Catholic hierarchy in the Western provinces that would be independent from Rome. He offered to persuade clerics and noblemen to petition the government for such a hierarchy. Antonii himself indicated to officials that Prushinskii's influence would be sufficient in organizing this petition (Pp. 51-52). Dolbilov and Staliunas find more confirmation of Prushinskii's involvement in a revealing correspondence that was written by yet another suspected participant, the Catholic publicist Adam Gonorii Kirkor (P. 52).

It is Kirkor who is the main protagonist of Staliunas and Dolbilov's study. An early proponent of the Lithuanian nation and a Catholic, Kirkor served as the editor of Vilenskii vestnik from 1860...


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