Ukrainians ‘insulted’ at being likened by priest to Communists

The article of April 23 by Richard Dowden is based on a letter written to your newspaper by a former Roman Catholic priest who accepted the Rights of our Ukrainian Catholic Church, in union with Rome since 1596, and on some remarks made by Bishop Augustine E. Hornyak. It could not have been a worse Easter present for the majority of Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain and elsewhere, and particularly for Patriarch Joseph Slipyj, who spent 18 years in Russian prisons and concentration camps.

The author of the letter to your newspaper, upon which Richard Dowden has based his article, made several insinuations which are not worthy of a priest. As the situation stands at present, more than 90 per cent of the members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Great Britain support the idea of the patriarchal system of government in our Church, which is the traditional form of government for all Eastern Catholic Churches in union with Rome.

They also support the proposition placed before Pope Paul by all the bishops of our Church in 1969 that Joseph Slipyj should be recognised as Patriarch of our Church.

The movement for the patriarchal system for our Church came into being in 1971 with the consent of Bishop Augustine Hornyak. It embraces 13 legally constituted Ukrainian organizations in Great Britain and more than 90 per cent of the faithful organized in 48 local committees for the patriarchal system.

Not a single Ukrainian political movement is a member of our Central Committee, although all of them express their moral support for the ideas for which the hierarchy of our Church has been struggling since 1840.

As far as we know, the Ukrainian Liberation Movement, which was led by Stephen Bandera until his assassination in Munich by a Russian agent in 1959, and which is now led by Yaroslav Stetsko — a former inmate of Nazi concentration camps — is also supporting this idea and the majority of their sympathisers contribute directly or indirectly to the activities of our organization.

We refute with all sincerity the insinuations which tend to discredit this movement by comparing it with Communist practices or activities, and ask you to correct this as soon as possible.

We also state categorically that up to this day not a single penny collected for the Patriarchal Fund founded in September, 1975, has been used for politica1 purposes.

As regards our dispute with Bishop Hornyak; this has no connection with the alleged militancy of the faithful against the Pope or the Universal Church, but with his personal attitude towards the Head of our Church, towards the members of our Church in Great Britain and with his personal support of those elements inside the Roman Curia which, for political reasons, oppose the reestablishment in our Church of its traditional form of internal government.

Our people feel that though he may be a good advocate for those elements inside the Roman Curia he is a very bad advocate as regards the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

T. I. Kudlyk (Chairman)
I. Dmytriw (General Secretary)

For and on behalf of the Central Committee
for Ukrainian Catholic Patriarchate (Great Britain)
49 Linden Gardens,
Notting Hill Gate,
London, W2.

I would be very grateful if your would include in your newspaper, the following facts relating to the article of April 23 by Richard Dowden, entitled “I fear for my life, Ukraine priest says.» It is obvious that the priest is of the Ukrainian rite, but not a Ukrainian priest; since no person Who has undergone the tragedies of the Ukrainian people would make such a wounding and unpatriotic statement, based merely on a guilty conscience.

A majority of Ukrainian Catholics support the Patriarch Joseph Slipyj, who incidentally has never asked the Pope to name him as Patriarch. What he has asked is for the right of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to a Patriarchate. Joseph Slipyj is acclaimed Patriarch by most Ukrainian bishops, clergy and faithful throughout the free world.

Politics, as intimated by the priest’s reference to the Banderites, has absolutely no part to play in this issue. Such reference merely highlights the lack of knowledge the priest has of his own people.

One of the worst insults that can be afforded a true Ukrainian’ is to call him a Communist. It is therefore incredible that a member of the clergy, who should be an example of brotherly love, could make such an insulting statement. The prie.st has likened the people to Communists. Perhaps he should reaffirm his position in comparison to them.

It was 30 years ago that the Communist regime in the Ukraine closed or destroyed 4,000 churches, and murdered Bishops, priests and Faithful. It is now 1976, and the Ukrainian faithful in Britain find their churches once again being closed — this time not by Communists, but by their own clergy. Churches, which were bought and maintained with money their own sweat and already tortured hands, had earned.

It is the need of every Ukrainian Catholic to benefit from the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist during the Easter period. It is also traditional to have the Easter Morning breakfast blessed. These basic spiritual rights have been denied by some of the clergy in Britain.

For this reason the Patriarch had to send four priests from Europe to fulfill the needs of the faithful; and even these priests were denied the courtesy and right of celebrating the Holy Liturgy and the giving of Sacraments inside Ukrainian churches, because these were locked?

In Bedford, for example, Mass and Sacraments had to be offered in the hall of the Ukrainian club, where a very large majority of parishioners, some travelling 20 to 30 miles, had to bear the indignity of passing by their own church’s locked doors. It is tantamount to Communist dictatorship where a handful of people can deny the wishes of the majority, and keep church doors locked.

There can be little amazement that weekly contributions have dropped, if the priest’s attitude is accurately described. If people are denied the us of their church and spiritual guidance, they cannot be expected to pay for support.

We wish also to take this opportunity to state categorically that the Ukrainian efforts to establish a Patriarchate, in no way remove allegiance to the Papacy, as is already proved by existing Patriarchates.

In conclusion, we refute as a complete non-truth the interference of any political party in this matter. It is the people themselves who demand the Patriarchate. We deplore the insulting statement of being likened to Communists, and ask: “Who are locking our churches?»

The priest need not fear for his physical life: that is an absolute absurdity. But perhaps he should look into his heart to save his spiritual life.

M. Prichidna
Secretary,
The Organisation of Ukrainian Women in Great Britain
(Bedford Branch) 170 Bower Street,
Bedford.

The Rev Donald В. Williams in his letter of April 30, headed “Orthodox and Ukrainian Church», tells us: “What self-styled Patriarch Slipyj did allowing three priests to marry, runs counter to all canonical regulations.»

This is of course a gross distortion of the truth and shows remarkable ignorance in the affairs of the Eastern Churches and Ukrainian Catholic Church in particular.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church was the first Eastern Church to unite with Rome and was completely autonomous at the time of signing the Union of Brest Litovsk in 1596. The union was confirmed by Pope Clement VIII on February 23 in his decree Decet Romanum Pontificem.

Rome solemnly promised the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church that their Church could keep all of their rights and authentic traditions which include the election of the Metropolitan by the clergy, a synodal form of government, and a married clergy.

Those rights, privileges and prerogatives were once more solemnly confirmed by the Pope Pius VII on February 27, 1807, in his Bull In universalis Eclesiae Regimine.

Vatican II Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches asserts: “This sacred Synod, therefore, decrees that their rights and privileges should be re-established in accord with the ancient traditions of each Church and the decrees of the Ecumenical Synods».

I would earnestly recommend to the Rev. D. B. Williams a serious study of the history of Ukrainian Catholic Church in order to establish who is responsible for stripping that Church of her rights and bringing her to a status of a colony.

I am convinced that after doing so he would never again describe Patriarch Slipyj as “self-styled».

J. Buciak
154 Holland Park Avenue,
London, Wll.
«Catholic Herald» Friday,
May 14, 1976 London
Grait Britain

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