By PETER HEBBLETHWAITE
Vatican Affairs Writer
THE TWO U.S. VACANCIES in the Ukrainian Catholic church hierarchy have been filled. Monsignor Stephen Sulyk, 58, pastor at Perth Amboy, N.J., is the new metropolitan of Philadelphia. Father Innocent Hilarion Lotocky, 65, a Basilian monk who has been pastor at Hamtramck, Mich., becomes bishop of the Eparchy of St. Nicholas, Chicago.
In March last year an extraordinary synod of the Ukrainian church met in the Vatican under Pope John Paul’s presidency. It elected Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky coadjutor with right of succession to the major archbishop, Cardinal Josef Slipyj.
These moves mean agitation about the patriarchate problem should die down, at least on the level of the hierarchy. For years Slipyj’s supporters have urged that he should be recognized as a patriarch. John Paul has been as firm as Paul VI in rejecting this claim.
But there is a new element in this pontificate. John Paul has said more than once that the Ukrainian Catholic church «has the right to religious freedom» in the Ukraine. Previously, its existence in the Ukraine was not officially acknowledged. The reason for this silence was, said its critics, a desire not to upset the Soviets. This motive is no longer quite so operative.
Inspired by the new mood of outspokenness, the December 1980 synod of the Ukrainian church, again meeting in Rome, formally repudiated the 1946 Lvov synod which was canonically invalid, forced on the church, and marked its integration into orthodoxy. This was the official end of the Ukrainian church on its own territory.
National Catholic Reporter February 13, 1981