Tag Archives: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Stalinism alive and well in the Ukraine: Church faces crisis

Archbishop UkraineReligious Freedom, the freedom to worship, and the freedom to live by a fully formed conscience (all three are not the same things) are not only crucial issues for the citizens of the USA, Egypt, the Sudan, parts of Asia, but also for various places in Europe but further East, in Russia. Religious freedom is the basis of all freedoms.

Joseph Ratzinger wrote an article sometime ago on freedom and truth where he said, “freedom is the theme that most characterizes modernity.” We could also say that Americans most care about, but freedom is not just an American thing, it is a human thing that all people want to enjoy. From the American dream which is the achievement of freedom, human development we to need to sustain a work that helps all peoples, not just Catholics but Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims and the like, be truly free.

 

Of late, the Christians in the Ukraine are being forced to re-live Stalinist power plays to shout down the Church. The Catholics in the Ukraine, especially the Byzantine Catholics as lived in The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), are facing political fights with the state over the right to pray in public and to pray in public for the good of the nation. Here we have a keen issue of how faith and the public order intersect. Looks like a new John Paul II has risen…

George Weigel outlines the scene in his article in a  National Review (January 14, 2014), “The Exhaust Fumes of Stalinism.” Weigel is good a pointing to the fact that culture, faith and good political order has been the hallmark of the Church: the dignity of the person and the God-given rights were only help up and promoted by the Church. A Church that is not beholding to state pressures and coercion. Metropolitan Shevchuk is articulating the hope and the path forward…

Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk offers Liturgy at St Peter’s

Sviatoslav offering Divine LiturgyPatriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainians offered the Divine Liturgy on 25 November with the special permission of Pope Francis at the altar of the Vatican Basilica. The Ukrainian Church is observing the 50th anniversary of the laying of the relics of Saint Josaphat, martyr for Church unity.

The praying of the Liturgy in Saint Peter’s is a terrific sign of diversity and unity of the Catholic Church. The Byzantine Church exists in Rome, Catholic and Orthodox. The beauty of the faith in all its specificities.

This week another group of Byzantine Catholics are meeting in Rome with their Patriarch and some bishops, that of the Melkites. A delegation from the USA just arrived in Rome today. The eternal city is being overrun with the Eastern Church.

Sviatoslav offering Liturgy at St Peter'sTwo notes: 1) it is a rare circumstance that a bishop other than the Bishop of Rome offer Mass on the altar of Saint Peter’s because it is a reserved altar. When John Paul was ailing we saw designated cardinals offering Mass at this altar. Recall that Major Basilicas belong to the Pope and have certain privileges; 2) In Church law and ecclesiastical custom (at the moment) the Ukrainian Church has a leader who does not officially carry the title of “Patriarch”; he holds the title of Major Archbishop —and there is no canonical difference in titles, but…— yet in a variety of places the Ukrainian faithful rightly use the term Patriarch as a few Vatican news agencies did today to relate the event. I hope that Sviatoslav will be granted the official use of the title of Patriarch, as he ought to have.

Saint Josaphat, pray for us.

Ecumenism from the bottom up, Svjatoslav Shevchuk advocates

Svjatoslav ShevchukYou will think I am silly for saying this, but who cares: I think that Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk is a good man for Christ’s Church.

Who is Archbishop Svjatoslav Shevchuk you ask? Please recall that he is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (a major archbishop is the equivalent of a patriarch in church law without the title of patriarch).

He’s now 43 and he’s been a priest for nearly 20 years, a bishop for nearly 5 years and he’s been the head of the largest Eastern Catholic Church for the since March 2011. Shevchuk is a man to watch. I just hope he’s not going to cave the to bourgeois mentality which afflicts many ecclesiastics.

The archbishop is in Rome now for a month for a series of meeting, not least was the recent meeting of the Plenary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and a meeting with the Holy Father and other Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. Using his time wisely, the archbishop spoke with Andrea Tornielli of the Vatican Insider (who is a friend of Pope Francis); Tornielli’s interview, “Ecumenism from the bottom up: Now Vatican II is coming into effect.”

In the Tornielli interview you’ll read about his connection with Pope Francis, the desire of the faithful for a deeper unity (a ecumenism that’s full & visible) and note of contrast on marriage between the churches. Perhaps you’ll learn something. I did. You don’t have to agree with everything the interview reveals, but you would be wise to read carefully and between the lines.

To get a flavor of this young Father of the Church, please read and watch the following:

Russian Patriarch losing popularity at home, and in the Ukraine

One doesn’t point to the failures of others in a mean-spirited way. No one likes it done to himself, but more importantly, it isn’t Christian. Nevertheless, we need to get to the heart of certain issues.

An article by Andriy Skumin, “Mission: Impossible” published today online on the international edition of  The Ukrainian Week raises a lot of questions about how the Orthodox see themselves as they observe 1025 years since receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Patriarch Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is facing lots of difficulties these days in places like the Ukraine, some of his own making, and some he’s been made to face from outside the Church.

Whether Skumin’s article is completely objective may be debated. But what needs to be studied are the ways by which the Christian Church’s ability to proclaim the gospel is effective today given certain cultural, political and religious factors. Also, whether the Christian Church is Orthodox or Catholic, both ecclesial communities face similar issues in their milieu; reality is crucial to acknowledge and work within. Hopefully, Patriarch Kirill will be able to service the Gospel and not his own ideology. And I would say the say for the Catholic Major Archbishop in the Ukraine.

At this time Christians are celebrating 1025 years of the reception of sacrament of Baptism of the Rus; and in particular, the Kyian Rus. I happen to think that the Russian Orthodox Church is a bit too imperialistic in their own circles but also in forcing others to follow them. They are often economical with the truth when it comes to common history.

Locally, the Catholic bishop of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainians, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, had a Moleben in thanksgiving to God for the gift of baptism.

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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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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