The Wrong Rite in the Church of Rome

NEWSWEEK/NOVEMBER 5, 1984

In the wake of a still-secret instruction from the Vatican, Ukrainian Catholics the world over might suspect that Pope John Paul II wants their church to wither away as a distinct entity within the Catholic fold. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite church retaining the liturgies and organizational styles of Eastern Ortho ioxy while still accepting papal authority. Thus, for example, it refers to its leader by the Orthodox term “patriarch,” and has ordained married men as priests — practices tolerated by the Vatican until now. As an underground church in the Soviet Union, it has also served as the focus of Ukrainian nationalism. Now, however, Rome has told Ukrainian Catholic bishops that they may not call their major archbishop, Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, a patriarch — a bow to the Russian Orthodox Church and to the Kremlin, which seeks to deny legitimacy to the underground church in the Ukraine. Further, the Vatican wants the Ukrainians to end their married priesthood (a privilege also enjoyed in other Eastern Rite churches, like the Melchite Catholic Church). What about married men already in orders? Rome’s callous instruction: simply suspend them all, including 20 who had been ordained since 1963.