MOSCOW (ChurchMilitant.com) - Victims of KGB persecution were commemorated in Moscow Thursday.
As part of Russia's annual national remembrance, the names of those killed under the Soviet regime for political dissent were read aloud outside the former KGB headquarters in Moscow. The ceremony lasted more than 12 hours.
The KGB — the chief intelligence agency for the Soviet Union — was responsible for foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence, protecting Soviet leadership, as well as combating dissent. The KGB was known for using brutal tactics to suppress dissent, and among its many victims were Catholics, including priests and bishops, who were arrested and exiled to forced labor camps in Siberia, where a number of them were worked to death.
Persecution was especially severe in Communist Romania, where all bishops and priests were rounded up and imprisoned, and many tortured.
Ukrainian Greek Catholics also suffered, their parishes disbanded and forced under Stalin to integrate with the Russian Orthodox Church. The aim was to remove what the Soviet government perceived to be loyalty to a foreign power: the Pope.
Attempts by the Communist government to infiltrate the ranks of the Catholic Church are well documented. In her autobiography School of Darkness, Bella Dodd writes of being heavily involved in the Communist Party in New York in the 1930s and '40s, heading one of the branches in New York City. Dodd, who later came to reject Communism and converted to the Catholic faith, testified before Congress in 1953 that "more than 1,100 men had been put into the priesthood to destroy the Church from within." She also said "right now they are in the highest places in the Church." According to Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Dodd told her that four cardinals working in the highest levels in the Vatican were Communist infiltrators.
At least one former Soviet spy — Ion Pacepa — claims the KGB was responsible for creating Liberation Theology, and fed that narrative to dissident Catholic bishops and clergy, who then spread it to their flocks in South America.
Pacepa served as a general for the secret police in Communist Romania in the 1960s and 70s, until he defected to the United States. At the time, he was the highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence official to defect. According to him, Liberation Theology is a phrase coined by the KGB in 1960, along with other similar movements at the time: The National Liberation Army of Columbia, with the aid of Fidel Castro; the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, with the support of Che Guevara; and the Palestine Liberation Organization, with the input of Yasser Arafat, to name a few.
Liberation Theology was approved by the chairman of the KGB as a group meant to secretly control the World Council of Churches, an international inter-church association representing nearly 600 million Christians of various denominations worldwide. The KGB used the WCC to introduce and promote its ideology as a revolutionary movement to progressive South American bishops. The bishops in turn promoted the Marxist ideology to their flocks.
Liberation Theology has been explicitly condemned by the Church.