Category Archives: Eastern Church

Archbishop Shevchuk interviewed by Vatican Radio

Abp Shevchuk.jpgArchbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk was recently interviewed by Philippa Hitchens of Vatican Radio.

The newly elected Major Archbishop talks about his election, the grace of the Holy Spirit for the Church today, ecclesial unity, the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope John Paul and some other things. He’s clear and polished.
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Sviatsolav wants fraternal realtions with Patriarch Kyril

Svyatoslav.jpg

His Beatitude Sviatsolav is making headlines these days with all kinds of hott button issues. The news is reporting, predictably, that His Beatitude wants to work on relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. No doubt his own predictions for dialogue leading to deeper full, visible unity would indicate his desire to be fraternal with the ROC and one may also say that he’s taking note of Pope Benedict’s desire to meet with Patriarch Kyril.

Sviatsolav said: “Our church has voiced its readiness and openness for a dialogue ever since it emerged from the underground.” And he’s also reported to have said, “I think that today, we should heal the wounds rather than irritate and deepen them. One can heal the wounds of our memory only with mutual forgiveness. Therefore, as for any our brethren or neighbors who wounded us or were wounded by us, the best way to communicate is to be open in a brotherly dialogue, be open to the purification of our memory, to ask for forgiveness and to forgive.”

Shevchuk talks about his election, chosen to lead a Church

Shevchuk & Pope Benedict Mar 31 2011.jpg

Cindy Wooden’s CNS article, “Ukrainian archbishop says he was chosen ‘despite age to promote unity” on Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk gives a clearer sense of the man and some of priorities. Wooden and Shevchuk met in Rome this week on the latter’s visit to Pope Benedict.

Archbishop Sviatoslav described the nature of his church in this way: “We are an Eastern Church with its tradition and inheritance, … a synodal Church is governed by the synod of bishops together with the major archbishop. But, we are also a Catholic Church that lives its identity in a full, visible and real communion with the Holy Father.”

What are Archbishop Sviatoslav’s priorities?
  • to strengthen the proclamation of the Gospel (kērgma) and the teaching of the faith (didachē)
  • to work on the Church’s liturgical theology and praxis; to make the liturgical patrimony intelligible in all the countries where the Ukrainian Catholic Church exists
  • to develop programs that attack secularism and engages the positive secularity
  • to strengthen the service of justice (diakonia)
  • to promote unity in the Church and among the other churches
  • to develop better social communications strategies for the Church
  • to identify ways in which to inculturate the Gospel and Byzantine tradition
  • to work with the Ukrainian people to heal from past injuries viz. the Russian Orthodox Church; to work on the fears that are paralyzing some members of the Church
  • to dialogue and work with the Orthodox Churches in the Ukraine (and where the Church is present) on matters of theology and mutual human interest
  • to promote healthy celibate and married vocations to religious life and priesthood.
Read the CNA story on the archbishop.
The Archeparchy of Philadelphia’s newsletter The Way also gives another sense of the recent events in the Church: The Way March 2011.pdf

Patriarch’s title for the Ukrainians?

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.

Patriarch Béshara Raï begins new ministry as the Maronite head and father working on unity

Sfeir & Rai March 25 2011.jpg

In his letter to the new Patriarch, granting “ecclesiastica communio”, Pope Benedict prayed that Patriarch Béchara Peter would be assisted by the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the fervent in his teaching of the faith; the Pope also said “It is a motive of pride for your Church to be united from the beginning to the Successor of Peter. Peter was called by Jesus to preserver the unity of his one Church in truth and in love. Following a beautiful and ancient tradition, Peter’s name is added to the patriarch’s”
Pope Benedict’s fraternal support was echoed in his hope that the Patriarch had “all the ardor, illumined by wisdom and tempered by prudence, to guide the Maronite Church.”
The Maronite Church was established by Saint Maron having lived in the 4th and 5th centuries. Patriarch Béchara Peter is the 77th father of a Church of 3 million people worldwide. Besides the Middle East, Maronites are present in Western Europe, Argentina, Mexico, Australia, the United States of America, and Canada.

The video of Patriarch Béchara Peter Raï’s enthronement Liturgy on March 25, 2011.

Digging back into TV history, Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa of EWTN talks with the US Maronite Bishops Gregory Mansour and Robert Shaheen about the role of the Maronite Church in the overall unity of the Catholic Church. Father Pacwa gives a sense of Maronite spirituality. Watch the show.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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