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Scholar: Pius XI wept when he learned of Stalin’s starvation of Ukraine

Catholic World News - November 18, 2011

Father Athanasius McVay, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest in Canada, and Lubomyr Luciuk, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, have coauthored the newly published book The Holy See and the Holodomor: Documents from the Vatican Secret Archives on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine.

“The Pope [Pius XI] learned about the Holodomor from the French Jesuit Bishop Michel d'Herbigny, who was the president of the Pro Russia Commission,” says Father McVay. “D'Herbigny was receiving letters from the Soviet Union as well as reports from foreign diplomats who had witnessed the situation first hand. D'Herbigny attempted to move mountains in order to convince Pius XI to launch an aid-mission to the Soviet Union.”

“The emotional Pius XI wept when he received one report, and he insisted that something must be done,” he continued. “Unfortunately churchmen and diplomats all concurred that no aid would ever reach the people because Soviet authorities were officially denying the existence of a famine that Stalin had deliberately orchestrated. In the end, the Pope was only able to authorize a gift of 10,000 Italian lire to be forwarded to starving Catholics via German charitable organizations that had contacts in Ukraine.”

The US House of Representatives drew attention to the Holdomor in a 2003 resolution, stating that “this man-made famine resulted in the deaths of at least 5,000,000 men, women, and children in Ukraine and an estimated 1–2 million people in other regions.”

“Many Western observers with first-hand knowledge of the famine, including The New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his reporting from the Soviet Union, knowingly and deliberately falsified their reports to cover up and refute evidence of the famine in order to suppress criticism of the Soviet regime,” the House resolution continued.

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