Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St Josaphat: hero or heel?
Today’s Roman Rite feast-day. There are about three issues here:
• Is the Pope really the divinely instituted head of the whole church, communion with whom defines Catholicity, or is he simply one of several man-made ranks in the apostolically instituted episcopate, ranks that exist simply for the good order of the church?
The Orthodox say the man commemorated today was vicious, acting like the end (his belief in the first teaching about the Pope) justified the means (persecuting them ‘for their own good’*). (Famously ‘the end justifies the means’ is not what Rome teaches!)
• Nobody knowledgeable and sound (not liberal) wants to see the Orthodox communion reduced to the condition of the Byzantine Catholic churches. Their tradition, their rite, was compromised among them not long after he died.

Here are two news stories about the Ukrainian Catholic Church today:

The Russian Orthodox patriarch of Moscow says they are ‘aggressive’ in the western Ukraine
Which is their historic home — has been for 400 years. It’s old Polish Galicia. The Soviets took it during World War II, banned the Ukrainian Catholic Church and gave the buildings to his patriarchate. When Communism fell, the underground Ukrainian Catholics surfaced and took them back. It’s been over for a long time now.
... the behaviour of Greek Catholics in western Ukraine is ‘most aggressive and discriminatory towards our believers’.
If that’s true it is horrible and uncharitable. Bullying really. After all Ukrainian Catholics are about 80 per cent of the population in that part of the country. There aren’t that many of Patriarch Alexis’s flock to harass. (Most Ukrainians are secular; outside Galicia most of the churchgoing minority are Russian Orthodox.)
They are trying to convert to [Roman] Catholicism those baptized in Orthodoxy or linked with it by their historical roots.
The former would go against Roman policy towards the Orthodox and the latter needs further explaining, Your Beatitude. After all you claim all Ukrainian Catholics, whose families all were Orthodox 400 years ago, as historically connected to you. Didn’t give the bolshies the right to do what they did though.
For instance, many [Roman] Catholic missionaries open orphanages, take Orthodox children there, and raise them in the Catholic faith.
A few nutters may treat the Orthodox that way but again that goes against Roman policy which is working towards corporate reunion (what exactly the papacy means still has to be agreed upon).

Which relates to this entry: in that reunion how does one deal with each side’s controversial/polemical saints who were vehemently anti-the other side? In the Roman view most post-schism Orthodox saints get the benefit of the doubt and AFAIK in fact the little Russian Catholic Church commemorates all of them.

The Ukrainian Catholic archbishop of L’vov (Lemberg) on his church’s accomplishments and problems
Lemberg is the historic capital of Galicia
Among problems, he mentioned the division with Lefebvrite traditionalists. He spoke of a small group of priests and laity that have aggressive positions. He mentioned that even in Prylbychi, the native village of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, leader of the UGCC from 1901 to 1944, they have their influence. “This is very painful for us,” Archbishop Vozniak said.
They are an interesting lot. Well-meaning Fr Basil Kovpak and his friends have based themselves on the principle that any change is bad, even changes away from latinisation and towards the Orthodox tradition as approved by the pre-1960s Popes! Ironically they share the Slavonic liturgical language with the Orthodox, whom they hate, whilst the UGCC uses modern Ukrainian as part of its nationalism. They chose Josaphat as their patron.

Disclaimer: This is meant for discussion and debate in the spirit of the university, nothing more.

*If St Peter the Aleut in fact existed, and he does seem a creation of Russian propagandists (accusing their Spanish rivals in northern California), according to the magisterium he was right and his torturers wrong. Which is why Lee Penn’s church, long manned by Jesuits like most Russian Catholic ones, commemorates him!

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