For many moons now, some estimate 50 years in the asking, the question to the pope has been: when will the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church be given the title of Patriarch?
Currently, there are some people who use the title unofficially –even provocatively– because they know better than the pope. Somehow the thinking is that if we just use that which is due to us then the rest of the world –and the Holy See– will see they we’re right and they are wrong. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church holds the title of “Major Archbishop.” There are three other Major Archbishops in the Catholic Church: Romanian Greek Catholic Church, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malakar Churches (both in India).
This attitude is unhelpful, incorrect and obnoxius. It is acutally an attitude of entitlement AND no one is entitled to anything in the Catholic Church. While the title of patriarch may, in fact, be fitting and proper to the head of the Ukrainian Greek Church, it is a title and privilege that is given. It is bestowed, not taken.
You’ll recall that Pope Paul VI made the designation of “Major Archbishop” in 1963 and gave it to the Ukrainian Greek Church. and his successors have said the Byzantine Ukrainian Church that it is an open question and that the Church has work toward getting the title of Patriarch. You see, this Church has been persecuted and “run out town” by the government and other ecclesial bodies and really only since the early 1990s has the Church gotten its proverbial sea-legs back. For a time, which may be current, there’s been a fear jeopardizing ecumenical relations with the Orthodox sister-churches.
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk is in Rome to pray at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and to meet with Pope Benedict and the Roman Curia. It is the sharing of Communio between brothers in the Lord. He’s travelling with the Metropolitan Archbishops and members of his staff.
So, while it may be important to have the title of “patriarch” it is not the first of the priorities of the new head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The brief story is here.