Ukrainian Cardinal backs pick of Phila. Church head

By Pfula Herbut

Of The Bulletin Staff;

Joseph Cardinal Slipyj, the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, has «validated» the designation to Msgr. Myroslav Lubachivsky as the new archbishop-metropolitan of Philadelphia after first challenging the right of Pope John Paul II to make the appointment.

Meanwhile, the Pope has announced that he will consecrate Msgr. Lubachivsky as a bishop at a Vatican cermony. Cardinal Slipyj, the leader of a movement to maintain the autonomy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church within the Roman Catholic Church, said he will consecrate Msgr. Lubachivsky elsewhere in Rome.

The Pope appointed Msgr. Lubachivsky as the new metropolitan-archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy (archdiocese) of Philadelphia in September.

Or Oct. 26, John Paul informed Msgr. Lubachivsky that he would consecrate him as bishop Nov. 12 in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, the Rev. Msgr. Robert M. Moskal, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia and chancellor of the Philadelphia Archeparchy, said yesterday.

Msgr. Moskal also said Msgr. Lubachivsky will be installed as the new metropolitan-archbishop of the Philadelphia Archeparchy on Dec. 4 at the Ukrainian Catholic cathedral in Philadelphia.

Since the Philadelphia Archeparchy is the Ukrainians’ principal diocese in the United States, Msgr. Lubachivsky also will be the spiritual head of the 300,000 member branch in this country.

Cardinal Slipyj, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, challenged the appointment by the Pope. In a letter to Msgr. Lubachivsky in «Svoboda», a Ukrainian weekly newspaper in Jersey City, N. J., he charged that the election of a new Ukrainian Catholic bishop or «at least» the naming of a candidate rightfully belongs to bishops.

«Instead of giving an opportunity to the episcopate of our Church, in accordance with the apostolic usage of the Christian East, to elect a bishop of Philadelphia or at least to name a candidate, foreigners were allowed to decide the matter so important to us,» Cardinal Slipyj wrote.

He said that Msgr. Lubachicsky’s designation by the Pope as a bishop is «void and nonexistent» but that, «having in mind… the good of the Church… I hereby validate, recognize and confirm you» as a bishop-designate.

He said that «l myself will consecrate you at the patriarchal cathedral of St. Sophia in Rome, or at another local church.»

The letter, written last month, was in response to one Msgr. Lubachivsky sent to Cardinal Slipyj on the appointment.

Msgr. Lubachivsky could not be reached for comment.

Msgr. Lubachivsky could not be reached for comment this week.

Msgr. Moskal said Msgr. Lubachivsky sent a telegram to Cardinal Slipyj Oct. 26 inviting him to participate in the consecration by the Pope but has not yet received a reply.

Cardinal Slipyj, 87, is the fomer archbishop of Lviv, Ukraine, who spent 18 years in Siberian labor camps for refusing to renounce his faith. Since his release 16 years ago, ha has been living in exile at the Vatican. He is recognized as the Ukrainian Catholics’ international spiritual leader.

Msgr. Lubachivsky, 65, was spiritual director of St. Basil’s Seminary in Stamford, Conn., from August 1977 until September of this year.

Previously, he served as a curate in churches in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania; as spiritual director of St. Josephat’s Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington, D. C., and as a professor at St. Basil’s Academy for Girls in Philadelphia.

Born in Dolyna, Galicia, in the Western Ukraine, he came to the United States in 1947.

The Ukrainians are part of Eastern-rite Catholicism, similar to Eastern Orthodoxy in worship and other aspects but under the jurisdiction of the Vatican.