The bishop who ordained John Paul II showed how to heroically fight totalitarian atheism


Catholic Herald, 16 June 2017

Bishop Sapieha became a model for how clergy should live under tyrannical Communism

The recent death of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev, and the forthcoming beatification of Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, the first Lithuanian martyr of the Soviet era, remind us of one of the most noble periods in Church history: the great lions of the East, the bishops who were heroic witnesses and pastors under totalitarian persecution.

In this year of significant religious anniversaries, there are any number one might choose to honour the great drama of the Church’s struggle against totalitarian atheism, the most lethal phenomenon in human history.

I might suggest that we go back 150 years to the birth of Adam Sapieha into a noble Polish-Lithuanian family on May 14, 1867. He would be the Archbishop of Kraków for 40 years, from 1911 until his death in 1951, by which time he had been made a cardinal. He lived the great drama of the 20th century, and would be the decisive influence on the century’s great liberator, Karol Wojtyła, St John Paul II.

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