Ukrainian Archbishop Installed

KIEV, Ukraine (CNS) — Pledging to honor the legacy of the thousands of Ukrainian Catholics who died for their faith under communism, the new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church — its youngest bishop — was installed March 27 in Kiev.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, 40, was elected to succeed retired Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych. The archbishop had been apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of the Protection of the Mother of God in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A moral theologian, Archbishop Shevchuk was elected during a five-day synod of bishops in Lviv, and his election was confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI March 25.

“In the 20th century, our church stayed by our savior to the very end,” Archbishop Shevchuk said during his installation liturgy in the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection of Christ in Kiev.

For more than 40 years, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was illegal in Soviet Union; officially it did not exist at all.

“The death of hundreds of thousands of our laity, priests, monks and nuns — led by our bishops — was a death on the cross and, therefore, a giver of life,” said the new archbishop.

The Ukrainian martyrs and the millions who kept their faith despite the risk and passed it on to their children and grandchildren demonstrated the strength and power of the cross, he said.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is the largest of the Eastern churches in full communion with Rome, and it is pivotal in ecumenical relations.

Born at Stryi, near Lviv, May 5, 1970, the new archbishop was ordained to the priesthood in June 1994 by Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, then the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s leader. He later obtained a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas of Aquinas in Rome.

Archbishop Shevchuk served as prefect and vice rector of Holy Spirit Seminary — now the Ukrainian Catholic University — in Lviv between 1999 and 2002. He served as personal secretary to Cardinal Husar from 2002 to 2005. He returned to the university as rector in 2007. He was appointed auxiliary bishop for the Buenos Aires-based diocese in January 2009 and became apostolic administrator in April 2010.

In an interview with the Livyi Bereh daily newspaper March 23, Cardinal Husar said his successor’s tasks would include “moralizing public life and bringing God into people’s lives” as well as encouraging steps to combat corruption through education.

“Everywhere — here in Ukraine, in Europe, in North and South America — our church has things to do, and it’s necessary to work on them,” said the 78-year-old cardinal, who also ministered in the United States before returning to his native Ukraine as a bishop in 1994.

When Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was forcibly united with the Russian Orthodox Church and became illegal. During 45 years under communist rule, the push for Ukrainian independence and the demand for religious freedom for Ukrainian Catholics often went hand in hand. The growth of Ukrainian democracy after independence in 1991 occurred at the same time that the church was being rebuilt.

However, the return of religious freedom meant that many Christians who were worshipping as Orthodox decided to return to their Ukrainian Catholic roots. Church properties that had been confiscated by the government or given by the government to the Orthodox were re-claimed by Ukrainian Catholics in situations that occasionally included violence between Catholics and Orthodox.

Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s smaller Latin-rite Catholic Church, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, told KAI, the Catholic information agency in neighboring Poland, he welcomed Archbishop Shevchuk’s appointment with “joy and understanding.” He said the new church leader knew Ukraine’s problems well and was also “a man of high culture and very good with contacts.”

Recent Posts

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español