Press release

Approximately three thousand Ukrainian Catholics from communities scattered throughout the world — North and South America, Europe and Australia — thronged to Rome to attend the celebrations of threefold anniversaries in their Church: 1) the fiftieth anniversary of a Synod of Ukrainian bishops held in 1929 in Rome and the founding of the Ukrainian Theological Academy in Lviv, 2) the fortieth anniversary of the episcopal consecration of our present Patriarch, and 3) the tenth anniversary of the blessing of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Rome. They came in great joy and high expectations for the recognition of the Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate by the Holy Father because for the first time in many decades the Seat of Saint Peter is presently occupied by a non-Italian Pope, in the words of His Holiness Himself by a Slav whose Church in His native Poland, similar to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine bears the brunt of Soviet pressure and harsh control. Who then could better understand the tragic plight of the Ukrainian Catholic Church than the Pope who, as a Polish bishop, personally experienced the importance of a united stance of bishops in a given country against Russian communist efforts to strange a given Church?

To prevent the incorporation of the Ukrainian Catholic Church into Russian Orthodoxy or its Latinization, the Primate of the Ukrainian Church with the agreement of all his bishops proposed that the status of this Church be raised to patriarchal level. The Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches recognized that the rights of the Major-Archbishop are equivalent to that of a Patriarch, but the subsequent actions of the Roman Curia were contrary to that concept. In the meantime the entire Ukrainian nation recognized His Beatitude as the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

In the words of Patriarch and Cardinal Joseph Slipyj, the Ukrainian Catholic Church exists «as a Particular Patriarchal Church» and his historical fact can never be eradicated. We take this opportunity to read the entire text of His Beatitude’s statement. (Read statement which is available for distribution.)

To scholars of eastern spirituality and mentality, it is a self evident fact that Eastern Churches will never submit to Latin practices and laws. This is very clearly recognized by large numbers of Latin rite clergy among them the Very Reverend W. von Straaten who stated at one of the anniversary functions: «Truly the recognition of the Ukrainian Patriarchate represents a fundamental and necessary ecumenical step towards bringing about equality within the unity of the Church. In recognizing your (Ukrainian) Patriarchal rights one gives witness to the fact that the Catholic Church — is truly one and universal — respects the Particular rights of the individual Churches. (Text, entire is available for distribution.)

The hopes and expectations of the Ukrainian pilgrims and the entire Ukrainian nation were shattered by the latest move of the Vatican Curia — the method of the nomination Rev. Dr. Myroslaw Lubachivskyj, the Metropolitan of Philadelphia, which was made without agreement or consultation of the rights of the Ukrainian Church and it aroused a wave of indignant protests throughout the world. (Copies of some telegrams are available for distributions). However, this painful act does not shatter the confidence of Ukrainians in the final victory of their cause for it is the cause of God which must triumph.

Issued by
Eva Piddubcheshen,
Dr. Wolodymyr Kosyk
and Mr. O. Koval, M. A.

Rome, September 26, 1979.