Rome (NC) – A Vatican source charged that resolutions of the Society for the Promotion of the Patriarchal System in the Ukrainian Catholic Church «betray an ignorance of the Catholic religion and of the way the Catholic Church is governed.»
Such ignorance, he continued, «merely reinforces the common belief that the Society for the Promotion of the Patriarchal System is being exploited for political ends by men who have little if any interest in religion.»
The resolutions on which the source commented were passed at a convention of the society, held In New York City earlier in June. Ihe society in seeking the establishment of a Ukrainian-rite patriarchate with Joseph Cardinal Slipyj, 79, head of the Archdiocese of Lvov in the Soviet Union, who now lives in Rome, as patriarch.
The Vatican source said the society’s assertion that there has been a «Vatican-Moscow reapproachment, achieved by the Vatican at the expense of the Ukrainian Catholic Church» is a «bald lie.»
He said the society’s resolution urging a canonical process «to invalidate the consecration of Msgrs. John Stock and Basil Losten» (recently consecrated auxiliary bishops to Ukrainian-rite Archeparch Ambrose Senyshyn of Philadelphia) demonstrates «an ignorance of basic religion.»
The valid ordination of a bishop, he pointed out, cannot be reversed or «invalidated.» An invalid episcopal ordination he continued, can merely be declared such, never «invalidated.»
He said the society’s resolution protesting against «the intrusion by the Congregation for the Eastern-rite Churches into the internal affairs of the Ukrainian Catholic Church» shows that the authors of the resolutions do not understand church administration.
«The Congregation for Eastern Churches is the executive arm of the Holy Father. It carries out what the Holy Father wants. To deny it the right to act in the affairs of the Ukrainian Church is to deny the Pope that right.
(The Catholic Standart Times, July 8, 1971).
To the charges of the anonymous Vatican spokesman, that «The Society for the Promotion of the Patriarchal System is being exploited for political ends by men, who have little if any interest in religion», we reply:
The society is not and cannot be exploited by anyone, since it is an organization with a wide membership of people who are also members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. As such, the society does not concern itself with «secret diplomacy» as do those, who are behind the Vatican spokesman. Also, it does not negotiate in human suffering nor in souls of millions of faithful. Not the leading activists of the society, but high ranking officials of the Vatican were presented with distinguished awards by the Patriarchy of Moscow, that in unison with the terrorist NKVD helped liquidate the Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1946. The newly elected Patriarch Pimen, after his ordination, with the blessing of the atheistic government of the USSR, and in the presence of a high ranking Vatican dignitary, announced not long ago the cancellation of the Union of Brest-Litovsk of 1596. The Vatican representative Cardinal Willebrands submissively heard out the position of Patriarch Pimen and as of this date we have not heard from the Vatican any form of protest concerning this incident. It is an accepted procedure in diplomatic circles, that when a host does not respect an invited guest, the guest leaves the host’s residence, or his country. Cardinal Willebrands did not react to this, and accepted the insult in the name of the entire Universal Church, which – we believe – he had no right to do as Her official representative. We might add that this occurred at a time approaching the 375th anniversary of this act of union. We may ask then: who is it, that is taking advantage of Vatican dignitaries for his political aims?
The Vatican spokesman delivered a serious charge against the society, questioning the religiousness of the people that stand behind it. We recommend he exhibit more interest in the matter. Let him come to this country and visit our churches on Sundays and other holy days. We assure him that he will see these people in church, and will find that through their offerings many new shrines and schools have been built in the last few years. We advise also that – for a comparison – he visit on any given Sunday morning the churches of Rome, and especially the glorious ancient shrines, for example the Laterance Church. The Vatican spokesman knows, that they glare with emptiness, and were it not for the pilgrims and tourists, who knows if they would not have to be closed. Even the smallest Ukrainian community has its own shrine. When new communities arise, the first common cause is the acquisition of a hours of worship. Let the Vatican spokesman look into the new beautiful housing projects around Rome and count the number of new churches built for the hundreds of thousands of faithful people of the Roman Catholic Church. The tourist’s eye does not see them. To question somebody’s piety is an act, that reveals, a lack of Christian love. Do not judge and you shall not be judged – said Christ.
The Vatican spokesman has allowed himself to stipulate also that the resolutions of the Society for the Patriarchal System betray an ignorance of the Catholic religion and of the way by which the Catholic Church is governed. We do not know for, whom such a lesson was intended. We think that the Vatican spokesman will agree with us, that the Christian Religion is based on the Old and New Testaments, on Church tradition, on the teachings of the Church Fathers of Her priests, and on the dogmas of the Universal Church. In the resolutions there is not even one point, that touches upon Truths of Faith or morals. Therefore, why attack our religiousness? Concerning this point we cannot imagine how one can be a member of the Church and believe the Truths of Faith without knowing them. We allow ourselves to add, that knowledge of Faith is not a monopoly of the Vatican spokesman. They are known to the most humble of the faithful in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. These faithful know very well how the Catholic Church is governed. They also know how the Eastern Churches are governed and how they should be governed. This, however, the Vatican spokesman does not know, or does not wish to know. And herein is the diversion of opinions. We urge the Vatican spokesman, and those that so forthfully quote him in the Ukrainian press, and yet refuse to print the resolutions of the Society to acquaint themselves with the issues and problems facing the concept of autonomy for the Eastern churches, to bring this issue of self-determination into reality, and then lessons in religion would not have to be given to those, who know them all too well.
The statements on the basics of religion presented by the Vatican spokesman leads to the mentioning of the episcopal ordination of the two nominees – auxiliaries of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Is it possible that the Vatican spokesman is not aware of examples, where episcopal ordinations were proclaimed invalid by the Holy See, in cases where it was proved that the form of the ordination was illegal, where bishops had no right to ordinate, or when nominations were received improperly, (for example, through simony?) Why then bring forth charges that we do not know the basics of religion? With much greater right we can say that the Vatican spokesman is lacking in the knowledge of church history.
To the charge that the society denies the Congregation of Eastern Rite Churches the right to act, we reply: To deny we cannot, because we are not a controlling body. But we can demand, that this Congregation, a surviving remnant of colonial tradition, be abolished – or, at least, it should not engage itself in the affairs of our Church through irresponsible actions. Such an executive arm of the Holy Father should be the Major-Archbishop, or a Patriarch with his Synod. Then the cause of Church unity would be better served than by the Congregation for Eastern Rite Churches. We are in no need of intermediaries, such as the Congregation for Eastern Rite Churches, in dealing with the Holy Father and the government of the Universal Catholic Church. We especially do not need intermediaries who are working with determination against the best interests of both the Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the Universal Catholic Church.