Ukrainian Catholic Church and the West

(“The Voice of the Ukrainian Community” Philadelphia)

In the past we have often discussed the differences between Eastern Catholicism and that of the West, making specific reference to the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the tragic plight suffered by its faithful. On to night’s program, let us look in more general terms of the Eastern Church and the Church of the West. This type of consideration is particularly appropriate, insofar as the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches have now formed a Union, which in turn may bring them and the Ukrainian Catholics closer together. In looking at the differences between East and West, ladies and gentlemen, it is essential to remember that the message of Christ is one in both, however, the presentation of the message differs in terminology and expression. East is East, and West is West, as the famous quote goes, but the twain does meet in Christ the Redeemer and Savior of all mankind. While the Christian West was reexamining the foundations of its faith and imposing its dominion on the rest of the world, the Christian East and particularly the Ukrainian faithful, was suffering under the yoke of the Asiatic invaders and was not able to engage in similar ventures. Today, East and West stand side by side each with special contributions. The West can offer its readiness to experiment, its keenness in the search for truth, and its defense for individual freedom; the East can offer its trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit promised by Christ, its uninterrupted tradition of teaching and worship and its faithfulness to the corporate wisdom of past generations. The Eastern Church, a church of martyrs, apostolic doctors, writers and theologians; a church of the early ecumenical councils; a church oppressed by the Turks and persecuted by the Mongols in the past and challenged by militant atheism in the present, still survives and reveals a remarkable inner unity. It is still able to offer to the world, and the West in particular, a participation in its genius. The positive side of Eastern Christianity needs to be reexamined. Christian nations of the West have built a scientific civilization but they have lost the sight of truth and are uncertain of the ultimate purpose. The present day spiritual crisis affects the West more than the East, both however, are suffering from it. Only by working together, respecting each other’s administrative autonomy, but using the genius of each other, can they hope to save the world for Christ. Only by mutual trust and collaboration can the Churches of East and West solve the problems of contemporary mankind. No balanced system of Christian doctrine, no effective action is possible without the revitalization of the Christendom. Christianity is an universal religion, and no single branch of the Christian community, however powerful, can present its message convincingly in isolation from the rest or by trying to dominate another branch of Christendom.

Thus the motto unity in diversity, which the Ukrainian Catholics have often used in their strug­gle for administrative autonomy for their Church, can well be applied in overcoming the differences which separate the Churches. The energy of all of Christendom should be channeled to combat the atheistic forces which would devour us all — this is its true historic mission of which it will have to give an account to future generations and its founder.

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