Slipyj accuses ‘Herald’ of bias

Bu Staff Reportes

CARDINAL Joseph Slipyj, Archbishop Major of Lvov, has written to the Catholic Heral complaining that the report of his pastoral letter on July 2 was misleading. Meanwhile the Vatican has endorsed Bishop Augustine Hornyak both publicly and privately as exclusive head of the Ukrainian Church in Britain.

Cardinal Slipyj’s letter, dated Vatican City, July 25, is signed Joseph, Cardinal Slipyj, Patriarch— a title he has taken on himself without permission of Pope Paul. It reads:

It was astonished to read your comments in the Catholic Herald of July 2 regarding my pastoral letter «Unity in Christ» to my people in Ukraine and in the diaspora. With deep regret I submit that your comments are misleading and without foundation.

Since Vatican II the striving for unity created the dynamic ecumenical movement in every country and particular Church. The English Catholics have done a most healthy and beneficial work in this field.

We, Ukrainians in the diaspora, must take part in this great work for the cause of reunion, because our needs — spiritual and national — are as great as those of other nations.

The pastoral letter was written at the request of my people. For the first time in our history various Protestant groups have been expanding even in the Soviet Ukraine, and it was also at their request that the pastoral was written. Should I, as the Father and Head of My Church, ignore such a request?

The purpose of my letter was thus not nationalistic, as you asserted, but its goal was the unity in Christ, as one flock in one Church and with one Shepherd — the Holy Father.

For this very unity in Christ and for this one true Church our Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ukraine has been formally liquidated by the Soviet Government and the Russian Orthodox Church, and her priests are persecuted for saying the Divine Liturgy.

These facts ought to be known, and to speak about these facts, the struggle for liberation of that Church a calling for unity in Christ in view of that persecution is by no means nationalistic.

My pastoral letter is the continuation of the ecumenical work initiated by my predecessor Metropolitan Andrej Szeptyckyj (and he was called by the name «Patriarch» by Clarence A. Manning, Professor of Columbia University, In his «The Story of the Ukraine» in 1947) and some of his thoughts in the field of ecumenism, of which he was a pioneer in the 1920s, can be found in his letters to Lord Halifax.

With certainty you will find no trace of nationalism, only a hope for unity among Christ’s flock.To understand our ecumenism and the contents of my pastoral letter one must first know the mentality of our people, its history, and its situation.

Vatican II gives us in this respect good advice: «Therefore, this sacred Synod urges all, but especially those who plan to devote themselves to the work of restoring the full communion that is desired between the Eastern Churches and the Catholic Church, to give due consideration to these special aspects of the origin and growth of the Churches of the East, and to the character of the relations which obtained between them and the Roman See before the separation, and to form for themselves a correct evaluation of these facts. If these recommendations are carefully carried out, they will make a very great contribution to any proposed dialogues.»

(Decree on Ecumenism, 14)

The Ukrainian Catholic Church played a major role in preserving the identity of the Ukrainian nation, her culture and spirituality. This is not an unusual case in history. In view of all the above mentioned facts are we Ukrainians not allowed to pray, think and strive for religious unity?…

In the future, please, in the name of journalistic ethics, comment in a truthful and objective manner, because it is distressing to see injustice being done to my Church in Ukraine and here in the Free World.

(Catholic Herald, August 6, 1976 England.)

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