Monday, December 27, 2010

A Window in Massachusetts

Jan Cieplak displaying a crucifix to the troika of bolševiki
In the church of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, in Adams Massachusetts, there is a window with Lenin (no not our boy [Lennon from Boston], every time i type Vladimir Ilič's surname it looks odd), Trotsky and Stalin, and a Polish priest (archbishop) sentenced to death. The well versed reader, certainly, knows of Lenin and his boys, and what they did in the Russian lands, and to the peoples of Holy Mother Russia, but few know Jan Cieplak (*1857, †1926). There were few Catholics of the western rite in Russia. With the coming of atheistic socialism (communism) religion was suppressed. Catholicism, especially in its roman form, was a competing international, and transnational, ideology. It was a competitor for allegiance.

After the deportation of Edward von der Ropp, Jan Cieplak was the highest ranking Latin churchman in Soviet Russia. Petrograd (formerly and once again St. Petersburg, after becoming Leningrad) was under Grigorij Zinoviev (once second to Lenin). Zinoviev wanted an eradication of catholicism. During Lenin's final illness (stroke), Zinoviev, as an ally with Kamenev and Stalin, controlled the Politburo.

In 1923 a show trial of 18 Catholics took place in Moscow. Nikolaj Vasiljevič Krjlenko was the prosecutor. Now, Krjlenko did not care if someone was innocent or guilty, but only the political value of prosecution. The execution of the innocent was a politically useful demonstration. Konstanty Romuald Budkiewicz was executed at Lubjanka Prison early Easter morning. Cieplak was also sentenced to death. After international appeal, Cieplak was released the next year. He went to Poland, Rome, and the US. He visited St. Stanislaus Kostka church in Adams Massachusetts, hence the window. He died, soon thereafter, in Passaic New Jersey. Since 1952 Cieplak has been recognised a Servant of God (an early step towards canonisation).

Stanislaus Kostka was the first church in the New World to have a representation of the Divine Mercy. Two years ago, Timothy McDonnell, the Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts closed them. They have maintained a successful sit-in since.

Why is the church to be closed? The same reason they are closed in other American dioceses: elimination of ethnic parishes, with cash on hand, and rich patrimonies in order to pay off sex scandal lawsuits, and increase episcopal power; a further clerical abuse in American clericalism. A parish and its people who should be lauded are condemned to extinction and exile.

If Servant of God Jan Cieplak is one day recognised as a saint, will he be the patron of a persecuted church and its people against bureaucratic tyranny that cares not a whit about justice, but only the fear it can engender amongst the oppressed?
Postscriptum: 15 February 2011. Rome says re-open the church.

Postscriptum: 1 April 2012. Celebrated Homecoming Mass.

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