Suspension of Ukrainian Priests

NEWSWEEK / DECEMBER 3, 1984

Only two months have passed since the death of the martyr patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, and already the Vatican functionaries are busily dismantling his legacy (periscope, Nov. 5). Forgotten are the solemn guarantees of Pope Clement VIII in 1596, which gave Ukrainian Catholics autonomy within the Catholic Church, including rights of self-government and preservation of Eastern traditions, one of which has been a married priesthood. In 1946 the Ukrainian Catholic Church was destroyed by the Soviet government on its territory and declared illegal. All the bishops were killed, except for Monsignor Slipyj, who spent 18 years in Russian prison camps before being allowed to go into exile in Rome. There are approximately 1.2 million Ukrainian Catholics in the free world. All we ask is to be allowed to conduct our religious affairs according to our ancient traditions and free of outside interference. Since a large number of our priests are married, their suspension could mean the death of our church.

Orest Hawryluk
Silver Spring, Md.

The Church of Rome does acknowledge the legitimacy of the “underground”

Ukrainian Catholic Church in the Soviet Union, as evidenced by the recent appointment of Metropolitan Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky as successor to the late Cardinal Josyf Slipyj as archbishop of Lvov—which you mention in your item. It is true that the Roman Catholic Church has told us that we may not call our major archbishop “patriarch,” but it has never prevented us from working toward this goal. Furthermore, Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Europe still enjoy the right of ordaining qualified married men to the priesthood. We deny that we have received instructions to “suspend them all.”

Most Rev. Stephen Sulyk Metropolitan
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese
Philadelphia, Pa.

The Vatican’s letter states that certain married priests now serving in the Ukrainian Rite are automatically suspended. Church experts say this refers to all married clergy ordained since 1963. Bishops are to forward dossiers on each man to Rome.