The latest nominations of bishops for the Ukrainian Catholic Church by the Roman Curia brought a storm of protests from the faithful which manifested itself in various forms. On September 7, 1974, members of the Society for the Patriarchate in the Ukrainian Catholic Church commenced picketing of the Apostolic Delegation Building at 3339 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D. C. The picketing continued on an intermittent basis for a period of three weeks. During this period thousands of leaflets were distributed in which the latest injustices of the Vatican were brought to light. Reprinted below is the text of the letter sent by the Society to His Excellency, the Most Reverend Jean Jadot, the Apostolic Delegate to the U. S., on August 31,1974, as well as the above mentioned leaflet.
The current grave situation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church compels us to write to Your Excellency. The Ukrainian Catholic Church, the largest of all Eastern Churches, is an Ecclesia Particularis with a synodal form of government traditional for the Eastern Churches. Her rights and privileges have been guaranteed as early as 1596 (the Union of Brest), and since that time reaffirmed numerous times by various decrees and pronouncements including the Decree on Eastern Churches of the Vatican Council II. And yet, over the past ten years, some members of the Roman Curia have persistently ignored and even violated these rights. The most recent example of such violations is the appointment of three Ukrainian Catholic bishops by the Roman authorities without consent of or even consultation with the Head of our Church, His Beatitude Joseph I Slipyj, and his Synod of Bishops. The three nominees are: Fr. Jerome Chymij, OSBM., who was named head of the New Westminster Eparchy in British Columbia; Msgr. Myroslav Marusyn, consecrated on July 28, in Rome, who will continue to serve in his office as Apostolic Visitator for Ukrainian Catholics in Western Europe, and Fr. Martin Greshchukof St. Stephen’s parish in Calgary, who was named auxiliary to Bishop Neil N. Savaryn of Edmonton, Canada.
It was also brought to our attention that further nominations are contemplated by the Roman Curia for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States. The names mentioned in this connection are: The Very Reverend Michael Fedorowich, Innocent Lotocky, OSBM., Stefan Sulyk, the Right Reverend Walter Paska, and Fr. Robert Moskal.
We, the Ukrainian Catholics organized in the Society for a Patriarchate, find ourselves conscience-bound to protest all these nominations. We believe, that these nominations are but another stratagem in the policy pursued by the Roman Curia with the objective to weaken the synodal leadership of our Church and to undermine her unity. We are convinced, that the Vatican authorities usurp the rights of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to appease the atheistic regime of Moscow and thus enhance their chances for a more lasting detente with the forces of communism.
To manifest our concern for our Church as’ well as for the spiritual well-being of the Universal Church of Christ, we are contemplating various peaceful actions including the picketing of the Apostolic Delegation building in Washington, which will commence on September.7,1974, and continue on an intermittent basis.
We are therefore writing to Your Excellency to explain the reasons for our activities and to state that the picketing is in no way directed at the person of Your Excellency. We are aware of Your Excellency’s long years of dedicated service to the Holy See and we hold Your Excellency in the highest esteem. However, we have little choice in this matter. We must take the path which, according to our conscience, is necessary, to inform the world about the injustices committed against our Church. Our brothers in faith and blood, the Ukrainian Catholics behind the “Iron Curtain”, are doomed to suffer in silence and are defended by no one. Thus we, the Ukrainian Catholic faithful in the Free World, have an obligation to speak out for ourselves and for the Silent Church of the Catacombs, and we shall continue to do so.
We are hopeful, that Your Excellency will understand our dilemma, and we have reason to believe that this will be the case. Recently, in a speech to the Spanish-speaking people of San Fernando, California, Your Excellency was quoted as saying the following words: “You have your own values and heritage, and you must preserve them. You must be part of total Catholic religious life.” We, the Ukrainian Catholics, also have our own values and heritage worth preserving, but we find their preservation most difficult under the current policies of the Vatican. We too, wish to be “part of the total Catholic religious life,” but our people find themselves increasingly more alienated from the Church, because of the Vatican’s political machinations.
In conclusion, may we be permitted to reiterate our esteem for Your Excellency. We hope that this letter has conveyed some of the reasons which compel us to pursue our present course.
We ask Your Excellency to accept our expressions of Christian love.
For the Society:
Myroslav Nawrockyj, M. D. President
Leonid Rudnytzky, Ph. D. Secretary