Chapter 4

by John Gavin Nolan

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The new Catholic Near East Welfare Association was threatened almost immediately — by its friends, no less. In September 1924, the same month in which CNEWA was incorporated in Pennsylvania, Bishop Isaiah Papadopoulos, acting for Giovanni Cardinal Tacci, submitted to Pope Pius XI for his approval the statutes of the Catholica Unio, a society which had grown out of two others in postwar Europe — the Unio Ucrainica Religionis and the Unio Ecclesiastica.1 The purpose of the Catholic Union, as it would come to be known in the English-speaking world, was strictly evangelical: the reunion of schismatics with Rome. The priest assigned to promote it in the United States, Father Augustine von Galen, O.S.B., would be in part responsible for Monsignor Barry-Doyle’s resignation as CNEWA president and his departure to Australia.

A stubborn German of noble birth,2 von Galen was born 14 December 1870 in the district of Munster, and baptized Wilhelm Emanuel. After receiving a doctorate in civil law, he became a monk in the Benedictine abbey of Emmaus in Prague.3 He served as confessor in the royal household of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary4 and for twelve years exhausted himself fighting the Los von Rom movement.5 Father von Galen considered the refugees from Russia and the Eastern Europe countries he encountered in Vienna in 1922 “bereft of all spiritual assistance, besides being in great poverty,” and concluded that “only by bringing these people into the Catholic Church could they be given spiritual relief.”6

In Vienna Father von Galen entered into collaboration with Father Mirone Hornykevyc, parish priest of the Church of St. Barbara, who in 1921 had founded the Unio Ucrainica Religionis for the return of Ukrainian Orthodox to the Catholic Church. In 1922, when Gustav Cardinal Piffl,7 archbishop of Vienna, recommended that Rumanian and Bulgarian Orthodox also be targeted, the title was changed in 1922 toUnio Ecclesiastica. The name was changed again to Catholica Unio when its statutes were approved in Rome in September 1924.8 At Cardinal Piffl’s behest, Father von Galen was assigned by his abbot to promote the Catholica Unio throughout Europe, and soon branches were opened in France, Germany, Holland, Spain and Switzerland.

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