VATICAN CITY (UPI) — Ukrainian Catholics accused the Vatican Tuesday of unwitting collaboration with the Soviet Union to destroy their church and hinted they might break their ties with Roman Catholicism.
The accusations were made by the World Federation of Ukrainian Patriarchal Societies at a Vatican City press conference.
About 1,000 Ukrainians were visiting the Vatican on the occasion of the 60th anniversary in the priesthood of Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, 85, major patriarch of the Ukraine.
The Ukrainians were protesting Pope Paul VI’s continued refusal to recognize Slipyj as a patriarch, a title «Are Vatican policies toward the Ukrainian Catholic Church not a bad road mark to Christians not yet in union with the Holy See but launched on the path of ecumenism?», the society asked and position accorded other Eastern Rite Church leaders.
«Present Vatican policies have aroused serious ferment among Ukrainians who are anxious to preserve their loyalty to the Holy See but who also fear that the price of this unity would be the eventual destruction of their particular church», the Ukrainian patriarchal society said.
Not only is the Vatican refusing to recognize Slipyj as a patriarch, the society said, but it is also intensifying the problems with the Ukrainians by trying «to impose upon the Ukrainian Catholic Church the requirement for a celibate clergy.
«The Vatican Curia circles are trying to strip the office of the major archbishop of the rights derived from the same», the society said. «They want to make it purely honorofic. This is a death blow to the Ukrainian Catholic Church as a separate and complete unit.
«Vatican Curia circles are Latinizing the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Moscow policymakers are Russifying it», the society said. «Both practices spell the death of this church.
«Vatican reluctance to openly defend the persecuted Ukrainian Church and its refusal to respect the traditional rights of this church has led to the assumption that some offices of the Holy See are prepared to sacrifice it to gain undefined concessions from the Soviet Union», the society said.
Its the strongest protest yet by representatives of the Ukrainian Church, who were using the forum of the Vatican’s Fifth World Synod of Bishops to press their demands for better treatment.