Ukraine: “We want to remove the gag from our Church”
• Formerly expropriated church will once again look like a place of worship
By Eva-Maria Kolmann
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk will once again look like a place of worship. The facade that was erected during the Soviet era will be removed this month, reported Father Grzegorz Romanowicz, the Vice-Provincial of the Capuchin Order in the Ukraine, and Father Blazej Suska, during a visit to the international headquarters of the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The church, which was expropriated by the Communists in 1949 and only restored to the Catholic Church in 2009 after a long legal battle, was clad during the communist period in a facade which turned it into a “monument of communism”, according to Romanowicz. “The church does not look like a place of worship. It wears a mask, as it were. It is in disguise. We want to take away this mask. Until now, many people do not even recognise the building as a church from the outside,” he explained. In a way, the facade has acted like a “gag on the Church”, forcing it into silence, added Father Suska who is responsible for the building work. Now the aim of the Church is to “win back its identity”.
(The Illegally expropriated church building of the church of Saint Joseph in Nepropetrowsk was returned to the Catholic Church in 2009 after years long legal battle. The front was built by the communists and will be removed)
In the years before it was handed back, the Church of St. Joseph in Dnipropetrovsk was repeatedly the subject of reports in the media because its former owners threatened the priests and allowed their security guards to physically attack believers – including elderly women – who were peacefully demonstrating for the return of the building to the Church. After many years of struggles with the authorities, the place of worship was restored to the property of the Roman Catholic Church in August 2009.
(Father Grzegorz Romanowicz (left of picture) and Father Blazej Suska)
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