Friday, July 22, 2011

Interview with Ukrainian Catholic supremo
Metropolitan (Major Archbishop) Sviatoslav (Shevchuk). Seems like a nice fellow, and so young (five years younger than me!). The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the biggest Eastern-rite Catholic church (all Eastern-rite Catholics are 2% of all those under Rome). Originally (in its 1596 submission to Rome) covering Kiev and north to Byelorussia, since Russian expansion in past centuries (Kiev had been an integral part of Russia since the 1600s; AFAIK yes, the government and state church, a rival one true church, went after Greek Catholics) its homeland had been old Galicia (capital Lvov; ruled by Poland, or Austria when Poland wasn’t independent, since the 1300s), which the USSR grabbed during WWII. The far western Ukraine today. (The first East Slavs I knew were WWII refugees: went to my first Byzantine Liturgy with them. The iconostasis and the Cyrillic made them seem very Russian, more or less what ‘East Slav’ is, but they said they weren’t Russian and definitely gave you the impression that most of the Ukraine was like them.) Its survival underground for 40 years resisting Soviet rule, as a traditional Catholic church in modern times, was heroic. It surprised Rome by resurfacing in the Ukraine during glasnost, complete with acting metropolitan. Then it took back the parish churches the Soviets stole from them. The major archbishop moving his see to Kiev seems a bid to be the Ukraine’s No. 1 church; of course a one true church would do that. The Ukraine religiously is like Russia proper: mostly secular now but with a mostly Russian Orthodox churchgoing minority (and a couple of nationalist schisms from the Orthodox; one of them claims to be the country’s biggest church). As for the UGCC, I think it’s still the majority church only in Galicia (something like 80%; I wonder how many go to church). Most of it, certainly here and from what I can tell from priests from there, is a sort of ethnic conservative Novus Ordo in feel (Ukrainianness to them: a few Russianisms like Cyrillic to show they’re not Polish; lots of self-latinisms, old and some new, to show they’re not Russian). Rome wants them to be just like the Orthodox in practice but of course on board with the magisterium including on the scope of the Pope; again a one true church can respectably say nothing less. In practice only a few mostly converts in the West are like that.

BTW they went under Rome so the Poles would stop beating on them, which they didn’t.

From Daniel Nichols, who identifies with Rome’s vision for these churches.

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