(By a Staff Reporter)
CARDINAL SLIPYJ the Ukrainian Archbishop-Major, who is in dispute with the Vatican over his claim to be recognized as Patriarch of all Ukrainians in exile and in the Ukraine, has sent three unauthorized priests into Britain.
The three priests, Fr. Ivan Muzyczka, Fr. Mykola Matyczak and Fr. Petro Stecivik, arrived in Britain just before January 7 (the Ukrainian Christmas) and began working among the Ukrainian communities in London, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
They have completely by-passed Bishop Hornyak, the Apostolic Exarch in Great Britain, and have interfered with the pastoral work in Ukrainian parishes.
As soon as the three priests arrived in England, Bishop Hornyak warned them that they were acting against canon law and so would be liable to ecclesiastical sanctions.
The priests, who regard their mandate from Cardinal Slipyj as sufficient authorization, have ignored Bishop Hornyak’s warnings and have been celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions in Ukrainian social clubs. Their presence has aggravated the split in the Ukrainian community over Cardinal Slipyj’s claim to be a Patriarch.
The arrival of the three priests is seen as part of a scheme to set up a separate «Patriarchal Church». Cardinal Slipyj has already been accused of attempting to set up unauthorized parishes in the United States.
Bishop Hornyak has sympathy for the proposal to set up a Ukrainian Patriarchate buy insists that such an innovation should only be implemented by the Pope or by an Ecumenical Council.
Commenting on the position of the three priests sent by Cardinal Skipyj, he said; «The three unauthorized priests have incurred automatic suspension from priestly functions. The confessions they have heard are invalid. Their Masses and services are a source of scandal and division.
«I appeal to my faithful people in the spirit of faith to keep strong the bond of unity with the Vicar of Christ and to accept his word that his present decision has been taken ’in the best interests of the Ukrainian Catholic Church’.»
CATHOLIC HERALD, FRIDAY JANUARY 28, 1977