In a move which could lead up to a confrontation with Cardinal Slipyj similar to the recent ultimatum to Archbisop Lefebvre, the Vatican has issued a firm statement giving exclusive ecclesiastical jurisdiction to Bishop Hornyak, the Apostolic Exarch, over the Ukrainian Catholic faithful in Britain.
The statement says: «Anyone exercising priestly functions which require jurisdiction, confessions, marriage, etc., without authorisation from the Apostolic Exarch, Mgr. Hornyak, is acting invalidly and occurs ipso facto the penaly of suspension A Divinis.»
This refers to three priests, Fr Ivan Muzyczka, Fr Mykola Matyczak and Fr Raphael Turkoniak, who came to this country at Easter this year, claiming that they had been sent by Cardinal Slipyj «to help with Holy Week and Easter celebrations.»
These priests — one of whom, Fr Muzyczka, returned at Whitsun — held services outdoors and in social clubs «in the name of Cardinal Slipyj» and heard confessions without the permission of Bishop Hornyak.
The Vatican statement is aimed at curbing the influence of Cardinal Slipyj who, according to Canon Law, has no jurisdiction outside his own diocese which is in the Ukraine, and has no authority over exiled Ukrainians.
Cardinal Villot, Secretary of State at the Vatican, has expressed Pope Paul’s support for Bishop Hounyak in a letter from the Apostolic Delegation in London.
The letter encourages Bishop Hornyak «to follow courageously the course you have always taken of exemplary loyalty to the Holy Father and the directives of the Holy See.»
Mr. Lawluk, a spokesman for the «Committee for the Patriarch,» the Ukrainian organisation drawing up a petition asking for the Cardinal Slipyj to be made a Patriarch, said last week that they had collected more than 7,000 signatures and £42,000 in Britain.
The money would be sent to Cardinal Slipyj, who has expressed a wish that it should go towards Ukrainian education in Britain.
Mr. Lawluk described the Vatican statement as «unfortunate». «The Kremlin are behind this,» he said. «The Ukrainian Catholic Church is paying the price for the talks between the Vatican and the Kremlin.
«The Ukrainian people cannot survive without unity, but Rome does not want this.
The occasion of the recent dispute within the Ukrainian Church which has led to the angry demonstrations, financial boycotts and other protests has been the question of the Patriarchate for Cardinal Slipyj.
The Cardinal has used the title with increasing frequency in the last two years, and although the Patriarchate does not automatically confer ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it would give Cardinal Slipyj added authority to his position as political and spiritual leader of the Ukrainian diaspora.
The fear in Rome is that the creation of a Patriarchate would upset the policy of ostpolitic which involves talks with the Russian Orthodox Church and an attitude of amelioration rather than outright hostility towards the Soviet bloc.
Many Ukrainians in Britain, North and South America, Canada and other countries not only feel an implacable hostility towards the Orthodox Church which tried to absorb them, but also believe that one day the Ukraine will become a free and independent nation to which they or their children wiil return.
Cardinal Slipyj who suffered 18 years in prison in the Soviet Union is the living embodiment of this hope.
Bishop Hornyak, on the other hand, while not being unsympathetic to these hopes and to the creation of a Patriarchate, puts his loyalty to the Pope before them.
According to the Decree on the Eastern Churches of the Second Vatican Council, only the Pope or a Council has the authority to create a Patriarchate.
Pope Paul has consistently refused Cardinal Slipyj’s requests that he should be made Patriarch, and last month he refused the Cardinal a passport to travel to the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia.
(Catholic Herald, August 6, 1976 — England.)