Katharine Younger is a Ph.D. Candidate in Russian and East European History at Yale University. She is currently a Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM (April – August 2014).
The Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church’s position on the boundary between two confessions (Catholic and Orthodox) and two empires (Habsburg and Russian) meant that many diverse individuals and institutions, across the whole of Europe, felt they had a stake in the Church and its fate. Not only were government officials and religious figures intent on shaping the Church in their image, but the European public – especially Catholic Western Europe – was also invested in the fate of their coreligionists. By examining some of the more common outlooks on the Greek Catholic Church held by those who were not members, we can more clearly see the Church’s place in the religio-political landscape of 19th century Europe. Whether focusing on the religious, political, or national aspects, all these “outsiders” shared the assumption that the Greek Catholic Church was being or could be used as a tool to achieve some larger goal, from undermining the Polish independence cause to promoting Pan-Slavism to providing a model for Christian unity. These visions were complicated and often contradictory; efforts to implement or impede them exerted a profound impact on the Church. Refocusing our attention beyond the limits of the Greek Catholic Church itself highlights the fundamentally transnational nature of a phenomenon usually viewed in a strictly national context.