Light from the East

The Catholic World Report ran this story on Patriarch Sviatoslav the other day.

“Ten years ago last month, the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church took a striking decision: it elected its youngest member, 40-year old Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, as leader of the largest of the eastern Catholic Churches, a choice confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI, writes George Weigel. He has more than ably filled very large shoes.”

The article “Light from the East.”

Honoring the Patriarch’s 10th Anniversary

The Church is honoring the 10th Anniversary of the election and enthronement of His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

A special program has been prepared for His Beatitude’s 10th anniversary (March 27, 2011). There is a review of the Patriarch’s first ten years and there is a revelation of his vision for our Church for the next ten years.

The TV presentation is mostly in Ukrainian with English subtitles.

You may watch the presentation here.

Sviatoslav’s Palm Sunday Letter 2020


Beloved in Christ Youth in Ukraine and abroad!

Palm Sunday, the day of Christ’s triumphant entry in Jerusalem, is traditionally for me and the entire leadership of our Church an opportunity to address you with a special letter. I always cherish this opportunity because I consider it a special privilege to reflect together and with you seek answers to questions and needs, which I have heard expressed at various encounters and conversations with you throughout the year.

This year, in spite of the unique life circumstances in which we find ourselves, you, young people, without going to church due to the restrictions that have been placed on us, can listen to or read this appeal of ours. The Church comes to you, wherever you may be: we hope that the voice which will be heard on screens of various sizes and formats, will resonate in your hearts, lift up and inspire each one of you.

It’s a wonderful thing to be young, but also not easy. Being a youth means having an open heart, an inquisitive mind, and a rebellious character that reacts sharply to all forms of injustice, every distortion, any wrong, which adults have learned to ignore or even exploit. For a young person today the challenge increases with the fast pace and virtualization of the global world, the economic crisis and pandemic. For young Ukrainians there is the additional factor of an unjust war of invasion in the east of the country, a war in which for the seventh year now, sons and daughters of our Fatherland continue to die, while defending peace and the future.

Uncertainty and fear have enveloped the world. Motivational speakers will probably earn millions talking on the topic of “How to live in a time of incertitude.” High-school graduates worry about how they will do their SATs and apply to places of higher learning, while university and college graduates wonder whether they will find a job in a world that seems to heading rapidly towards economic crisis. Proprietors of small coffee shops are anxious about whether they will be able to reopen once the quarantine is over, programmers—whether orders from large international companies will be cancelled, as the financial stability of their businesses depend on them. One has the impression that today there isn’t a single young person who does not worry about the uncertainty that hangs over us.

Make Disciples of All Nations, not just those of our family

From a 2016 sermon of His Beatitude Sviatoslav of Kyiv and Halych:

Today’s question is: What does it mean to be a faithful member or believer of the UGCC? This is a question of identity of the Church and us. The Kyivan Church of the third millennium—who are we? What do we do as members of this Church?

Here in our midst are members [of the Church] from the whole world. We have with us brothers and sisters from Australia here today. This question has broad answers. What makes us Ukrainian Greco-Catholics? Being Ukrainian? Today about 1/3 of our parishes in the diaspora [in North and South America, Western Europe, Australia] are comprised of members not of Ukrainian heritage and who don’t speak Ukrainian. This is why we translated our new Catechism into languages they understand: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, many others….

What is the mark of identity of the UGCC? To be Galician? I tell you as the Major Archbishop of Kyiv, no! There are many who want to make our Church into a Galician enclave in the Western part of Ukraine. His Beatitude Lubomyr once said something very interesting: “we need to put aside the heresy of being just Galician.” [Let me assure you, I say this with all respect, being a Galician myself.] Our identity, the identity of our Church is faith in the salvific things that our God has placed in the history of the Kyivan Church and all the good things and gifts and treasures from God: theological, liturgical, artistic.

Today we must spread these to the whole world.

And today when our missionaries leave the Lviv Theological Seminary [where the homily is being given] to occupied areas, in Crimea, or to Melbourne or to India, they can think to themselves… I am going to find [seek out, like lost sheep] Ukrainians, I am going to call back the lost sheep of Ukraine.

But Christ is calling us to something higher. He says go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to be Greco-Catholic, faithful member of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church.

Within the richness of the Kyivan Church there is much to be found, there are such deep roots. We need to open the Kyivan Church to other languages, other cultures, other peoples—this gift of the Spirit that the Lord gave to our once suffering, crucified, but today resurrected and glorified Church.

Dialogue and unity: the mission of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Here is a summary of an article by Andrea Gagliarducci published by Acistampa in Italian on the recent meetings of representatives of the Synod of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Rome. The article is here. Thanks to Fr. Athanasius McKay for his notes.

“Pope Francis wants the Eastern Catholic Churches to grow, develop and flourish.” The Pope distinguished Eastern Catholic Churches from “Uniatism” as a method. Churches are not methods.

Instead of the old individual ad limina meetings, this represents a new methodology of the Pope and his curia meeting with the Major Archbishop and his synod together.

“It was clear to everybody that the war is a foreign aggression and that Ukraine is the victim.”

“The problem with ecumenism in Ukraine and in the whole territory of the ex-Soviet Union, is that decolonization has not yet happened. The Churches were often servants and instruments of the state authorities.”

“[our goals: the patriarchate, the beatification of Sheptytsky, etc.] are closer than they were three days ago.”

The Latin Church understands the concept of “Ecclesia particularis” as “local Church.” But at the meeting we had metropolitans from Canada, Brazil, USA, Poland. We are not a local Church but an “Ecclesia sui juris”, which is a global reality. This is a Byzantine concept of Catholic universalism.

“Metropolitan Sheptytsky was the first to fully realise the global nature of our Church. When he was metropolitan, our Church only had three eparchies in Western Ukraine. Now we have 34 eparchies throughout the world. It is also thanks to Metropolitan Sheptytsky, who was the first to make pastoral visits to the faithful throughout the world. We are harvesting the fruits that Metropolitan Sheptytsky planted.”