Tag Archives: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

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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Sviatsolav wants fraternal realtions with Patriarch Kyril


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

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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