Ukrainian Catholic church

Ukrainian Catholic church (Українська Католицька Церква; Ukrainska Katolytska Tserkva). The current name of the Ukrainian church that belongs to the group of Eastern- or Byzantine-rite churches that are in communion with the Roman Catholic church and recognize the spiritual and administrative authority of the pope. These Eastern churches are also called ‘particular’ (pomisni), because they are hierarchically, canonically, liturgically, and culturally autonomous, although they belong to the association of particular churches that forms the Universal Church. (For the history of Ukrainian Catholicism, see History of the Ukrainian church.)

Canonical aspects. The name ‘Ukrainian Catholic church’ (UCC) has been used popularly and in official Vatican documents since the early 1960s to refer to all Ukrainian Catholics in the diaspora and the underground (until 1989) church in Ukraine. It replaced the term ‘Greek Catholic church,’ which had been used since the 18th century, and the official term Ecclesia Ruthena unita used by the Vatican. UCC leaders favored the new term because it recognized the national character of the church; prevented the confusion that arose with such terms as ‘Greek Catholic,’ Ruthenus, or ‘Ruthenian’; and implied the spiritual and administrative unity of Ukrainian emigrants with the church in Ukraine.

After the formal liquidation of Halych metropoly at the Lviv Sobor of 1946, those Ukrainian Catholic (then Greek Catholic) clergy and faithful who refused to convert to Russian Orthodoxy and join the Russian Orthodox church were severely persecuted, and most of the church’s hierarchs died in concentration camps. In February 1963, however, Metropolitan Yosyf Slipy was released from prison and permitted to emigrate. In October 1963, at the Second Vatican Council, he proposed the creation of a Kyiv-Halych patriarchate for Ukrainian Catholics. The council did not resolve the matter, but in December 1963, as a result of the Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Vatican recognized the archbishop of Lviv as the major archbishop of the UCC. In 1975 Slipy began using the title ‘Patriarch of Kyiv and Halych and All Rus',’ and many UCC bishops began to refer to him and his successor as ‘patriarch’; this was done without the pope’s consent, however, and the UCC has not been recognized as a patriarchal church by the Vatican. Nonetheless, Slipy secured official recognition of the synodal structure of the UCC under the authority of the major archbishop, who has the right to convoke the synods of Ukrainian Catholic bishops and the Council of the UCC.

The UCC is formed by Halych metropoly (traditionally composed of Lviv eparchy, Stanyslaviv eparchy, and Peremyshl eparchy [now primarily in Poland]) and all metropolies, eparchies, and exarchates in the diaspora (consisting mainly of Ukrainian émigrés from Galicia and their offspring) that participate in the synods of Ukrainian Catholic bishops.

Not all Ukrainian Catholics outside Ukraine belong directly to the UCC. Many Ukrainians in ethnically mixed borderlands west of Ukraine, for example, belong to Byzantine-rite Catholic church eparchies not jurisdictionally affiliated with the UCC. Prešov eparchy in eastern Slovakia is one such eparchy. Forcibly converted to Orthodoxy in 1950, the eparchy was re-established as a Greek Catholic eparchy in 1968 for both Ukrainians and Slovaks. It has been subject to increasing Slovakization, and the Ukrainian hierarchs Pavlo Petro Goidych and Vasyl Hopko, who were arrested when the eparchy was converted in 1950, were succeeded in 1968 by a Slovak. In Hungary, Hajdúdorog eparchy and the exarchate of Miskolc include many Magyarized Transcarpathian Ukrainians. The Lemko Apostolic Administration existed until most Ukrainians were deported from the Lemko region after the Second World War (see Operation Wisła). In Romania the Greek Catholic parishes in Bukovyna and the Maramureş region, which had been subordinated to Lviv archeparchy and then Stanyslaviv eparchy (from 1885) and consisted primarily of Ukrainians, were forcibly incorporated into the Romanian Orthodox church on 1 December 1948. In the United States of America, Transcarpathian Ukrainian emigrants and their descendants belong primarily to Pittsburgh metropoly, which is also a Byzantine-rite province with four eparchies that do not fall under the UCC. Finally, in some countries with very small Ukrainian communities, individual Ukrainian Catholic parishes may exist, but they are under the jurisdiction of the local Roman Catholic hierarchy.

In Ukraine. Despite official persecution, the church hierarchy, clergy, monastic orders, and theological seminaries of the UCC remained active in the underground after 1946; they conducted secret services, administered rites, and ordained priests and consecrated bishops. Many Ukrainian Catholic believers also attended Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches while retaining their traditional beliefs and convictions. It was only during the perestroika period and liberalization of the late 1980s that the UCC re-emerged in public. In October 1987 two bishops and several priests announced that they were coming out of the underground; they notified Pope John Paul II of their actions and asked for his protection. In 1989 six more people identified themselves as hierarchs of the UCC (from 1946 several other bishops had died in Ukraine without their identity being revealed; only Ya. Tymchuk [d 20 December 1988] was posthumously identified as a bishop). In a May 1989 open letter to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading members of the underground UCC (including Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk, three bishops, and several priests) demanded that the church be legalized; that same month a major hunger strike was staged in Moscow to publicize these demands.

The movement for the legalization of the UCC quickly gained great momentum. Throughout western Ukraine, parishes, priests, and believers formally declared their allegiance to the church. Such actions were strongly supported by the Vatican and the UCC hierarchy outside Ukraine. In August 1989 the church hierarchy in Ukraine met to re-establish the authorities of three individual eparchies. In 1990 the hierarchy was headed by Volodymyr Sterniuk, the ordinary of Lviv archeparchy (which includes that part of the former Peremyshl eparchy not in contemporary Poland) and acting metropolitan under the major archbishop (Myroslav Liubachivsky). He was assisted by Bishops F. Kurchaba, M. Sapryha, and Yu. Voronovsky. The ordinary of Ivano-Frankivsk eparchy (formerly Stanyslaviv eparchy), Bishop S. Dmyterko, was assisted by Bishops Pavlo Vasylyk (co-adjutor) and I. Bilyk, and the ordinary of Uzhhorod eparchy, Bishop I. Semedii, by Bishops Y. Holovach and I. Margitych. The last eparchy was newly created and based primarily on the former Mukachevo eparchy, which had not been a part of Halych metropoly before its forcible conversion to Orthodoxy after the Second World War. In June 1990 the entire hierarchy met with Pope John Paul II in Rome.

Official permission to register UCC parishes was granted by the Council for Religious Affairs of the Ukrainian government in December 1989. By March 1992 more than 1,000 parishes in Lviv eparchy, 530 in Ivano-Frankivsk eparchy, and 12 in Uzhhorod eparchy had declared themselves to be Ukrainian Catholic. The church included over 1,000 priests (including 350 former priests of the Russian Orthodox church), 700 nuns, and 400 seminarians. Official registration of the entire church as a legal entity, however, had still not been granted by the end of 1990. Moreover, several contentious questions were also unresolved, particularly the ownership and control of church properties. Neither this difficulty nor the unofficial measures used by the central government to hamper the church’s growth were able to stop the popular rebirth of the UCC. Many church publications and religious schools were founded; several monasteries were renewed under the UCC; and a variety of public demonstrations were held, including a large religious festival in September 1990 in Lviv. In the fall of 1990 the Saint George's Cathedral complex, the historic cathedral and residence of the metropolitan of Halych, was transferred back to the UCC from the Russian Orthodox church. Cardinal Myroslav Liubachivsky moved from Rome to Lviv on 30 March 1991. A synod under his leadership took place on 16–31 May 1992 at Saint George's Cathedral in Lviv. The 28 bishops from Ukraine and the West who participated in the synod created new eparchies and metropolies and condemned the Lviv Sobor of 1946 as uncanonical.

In Poland. Following the Second World War, part of Peremyshl eparchy and the entire Lemko region were ceded to Poland. Most Ukrainians living in these regions were forcibly deported to the Ukrainian SSR or resettled in the western territories that Poland acquired from Germany (see Operation Wisła). At the same time the Greek Catholic church was severely repressed. Bishop Yosafat Kotsylovsky of Peremyshl and his assistant, Hryhorii Lakota, were both deported to the USSR, where they subsequently died in prison, and most priests were deported or resettled along with their faithful. Liturgies in the Byzantine-rite were forbidden, both by the authorities and by the Roman Catholic church; some Ukrainian priests conducted Latin liturgies as assistants to Polish clergymen.

From 1957 Ukrainian Catholic priests were again permitted to conduct Byzantine liturgies for Ukrainians in Poland. But they were allowed to establish only ‘pastoral centers’ attached to and dependent on local Roman Catholic churches and bishops, and not canonical parishes. By the end of 1977 there were 77 such centers, served by lay priests and priests of the Basilian monastic order. Also, from the 1950s the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate, Sisters of Saint Joseph, and Basilian Sisters were re-established. In 1969 a Byzantine rite theological seminary was established at the Catholic University in Lublin. Graduates have been ordained by the Polish cardinal S. Wyszyński and, since 1982, by Ukrainian hierarchs (including some from outside Poland, such as Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn and Cardinal Myroslav Liubachivsky). In general the Polish church has had a very ambivalent attitude toward Ukrainian Catholics; it has pressured them to adopt the Latin rite, disallowed them an independent hierarchy, and hindered their contacts with the UCC hierarchy in the West.

In 1949 S. Wyszyński was appointed by the Vatican as special delegate for Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Poland. He appointed Vasyl Hrynyk, a former professor of the Peremyshl Greek Catholic Theological Seminary, as vicar-general for Ukrainian Catholics. In 1977 Hrynyk was succeeded by S. Dziubyna. In December 1981 Wyszyński's successor, Cardinal J. Glemp, appointed two vicars-general for Ukrainian Catholics: Ivan Martyniak was chosen to head the southern deaneries of Peremyshl and Wrocław, and Y. Romanyk was assigned to the Koszalin and Olsztyn deaneries in the north. Despite persecution by the government and the occasional prejudice of the Roman Catholic clergy, Ukrainian Catholics began to establish parishes, build chapels and churches, and renovate shrines that had been returned to them (especially in the Peremyshl region and the Lemko region, to which many Ukrainians have returned). Finally, John Paul II consecrated Martyniak as the first Ukrainian Catholic bishop in Poland in September 1989, in the presence of Cardinals Glemp and Myroslav Liubachivsky. At first Martyniak was an auxiliary bishop to the ordinary for Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Poland (Cardinal Glemp). In January 1991 he became bishop of the traditional Ukrainian Catholic Peremyshl eparchy. He participated in the synods of the UCC after his consecration.

Estimates of the total number of Ukrainian Catholics in Poland range as high as 500,000, but since many identified themselves as Roman Catholics to avoid harassment, this number is uncertain. In 1987 there were 83 missions and pastoral centers served by 47 priests and 11 Basilian Fathers. Their celebrations of the millennium of the Christianization of Ukraine were very successful, and a large rally, attended by 70,000 Ukrainians from across Poland, was held in Częstochowa in September 1988.

In Former Yugoslavia. Ukrainian settlers from Transcarpathia and Galicia began arriving in Vojvodina and Croatia in the 18th century. The separate Križevci eparchy was established for them in 1777. Today this eparchy includes all 50,000 Byzantine-rite Catholics in former Yugoslavia, most of whom (35,000) are of Ukrainian descent. The bishop of the eparchy participates in synods of the UCC, and the eparchy’s clergy is often trained in UCC theological seminaries and uses Ukrainian liturgical texts.

In the United States. The Ukrainian Catholic church in the United States of America was established after the arrival in 1884 of Rev Ivan Ya. Voliansky, who had been sent to minister to Ukrainian emigrants by Metropolitan Sylvester Sembratovych of Lviv. The first bishop, Soter Ortynsky, arrived from Western Ukraine in 1907. He was under the authority of the Roman Catholic church until 1913, when a separate exarchate for all Greek Catholics in the United States was established. Soon after his death in 1916, the Vatican appointed two vicars-general for Byzantine rite Catholics, one for Galician Ukrainians (Petro Poniatyshyn) based in Philadelphia, and one for Transcarpathian Ukrainians (H. Martiak) based in Pittsburgh; the latter eventually became Pittsburgh metropoly.

In 1924 the Holy See appointed Constantine Bohachevsky exarch for the Galician Ukrainians, with his see in Philadelphia. In 1956 a second exarchate was established, in Stamford, Connecticut, to serve New York State and New England. In 1958 the church was reorganized as Philadelphia metropoly, and the exarchates were designated as eparchies (Philadelphia was raised to the status of archeparchy). Eparchies were established in 1961 in Chicago, to serve congregations in the western states, and in 1983 in Parma, Ohio, to serve parishes in the central and southern United States. In the mid-1970s there were approximately 285,000 Ukrainian Catholics in the country.

In Canada. The first Ukrainian Catholic priests in Canada were Nestor Dmytriv, who arrived from the United States in 1897, and P. Tymkevych. The first bishop, Nykyta Budka, served in 1912–28; he was succeeded by Vasyl Ladyka (1929–56). In 1943 the church was made an exarchate, and Nil Savaryn was named as an assistant bishop to Ladyka. Two more exarchates were added, in 1948 and 1951. In 1956 the church was reorganized as Winnipeg metropoly under Maksym Hermaniuk, with an archeparchy in Winnipeg and eparchies in Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Toronto; a fourth eparchy was established in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1974. According to the 1981 Canadian census, there were 191,300 Ukrainian Catholics in Canada; a further 100,600 Ukrainians claimed Roman Catholicism as their religion.

In Brazil. Although priests and monks accompanied the earliest Ukrainian emigrants to Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was not until 1952 that a separate apostolic exarchate was established for Byzantine-rite faithful. The exarchate was initially headed by Archbishop J. Câmara, who appointed C. Preima as vicar for Ukrainians. In 1958 Yosyp Martynets was appointed as the first bishop for Ukrainians, and in 1962 a separate Ukrainian exarchate was established, with its center in Curitiba. The exarchate was made an eparchy in 1971, and was later headed by Bishop Yefrem Kryvy. Although the Curitiba UCC eparchy is under the jurisdiction of the Curitiba Roman Catholic metropoly, its bishop participates in UCC synods.

In Argentina. Ukrainian Catholics in Argentina were served by priests of the Basilian monastic order from Brazil until 1909, when Ya. Karpiak arrived from Peremyshl. Soon afterward he was joined by I. Senyshyn and O. Ananevych from Stanyslaviv eparchy. In 1959 the Vatican designated the archbishop of Buenos Aires ordinary for all Byzantine-rite Catholics in Argentina. He appointed Y. Halabarda to oversee Ukrainian congregations. The first Ukrainian bishop, Andrii Sapeliak, was made apostolic visitator for Ukrainian Catholics in 1961. A separate Ukrainian exarchate was created in 1968 under Sapeliak, and in 1978 it was made an eparchy. There are approximately 115,000 Ukrainian Catholics in the country.

In Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The small Ukrainian Catholic communities in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela date only from the late 1940s and number only a few hundred faithful. Church services are generally conducted by visiting priests from other South American countries.

In Australia and New Zealand. When Ukrainian Catholics began to arrive in Australia in 1948, they were accompanied by several priests. The Vatican created an apostolic exarchate in 1958 encompassing all of Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania and appointed Bishop Ivan Prashko as first exarch. In June 1982 the Vatican raised the exarchate to an eparchy. The eparchy serves approximately 30,000 Ukrainians.

In Germany. In the interwar period the small Ukrainian community in Germany was initially served by a succession of priests assigned from Lviv eparchy. In 1927 Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky sent Petro Verhun to Berlin as a permanent priest. During the Second World War, Ukrainian refugees and others arrived in large numbers in Germany. Because Verhun was unable to communicate regularly with Lviv, he turned to the Vatican, which named him apostolic visitator and administrator for Ukrainian Catholics in 1940. By the end of the war there were several hundred thousand Ukrainians, including many Catholics, throughout Western Europe, mainly in West Germany. In 1945 Mykola Voiakovsky was appointed to assist Verhun, who was seized by the Soviets later that year and imprisoned in Siberian concentration camps. In 1946 the Vatican appointed Bishop Ivan Buchko as apostolic visitator for Ukrainian Catholics in Western Europe, and Voiakovsky was made vicar-general for Germany. When Voiakovsky emigrated to the United States of America in 1949, he was succeeded by P. Holynsky in West Germany. In total, some 240 Ukrainian Catholic congregations, served by 300 émigré priests, were established in the displaced persons camps. Voiakovsky established a theological seminary in Hirschberg, Bavaria, which was moved to Culemborg, Holland, in 1948. From 1948, however, church life declined as most displaced persons emigrated to North or South America. In 1959 Bishop Platon Kornyliak was appointed as exarch for Germany, with his see in Munich; in 1982 his responsibilities were extended to include Scandinavia.

In Great Britain. The largest wave of Ukrainian immigrants in Great Britain arrived in 1947–50, among them many members and chaplains of the Division Galizien. Until 1956 they were under the jurisdiction of Bishop Ivan Buchko, who appointed Volodymyr Malanchuk (1949–50), Oleksander Malynovsky (1950–7), and P. Maliuga (1957–62) vicars-general for Great Britain. The Roman Catholic bishop of Westminster, W. Godfrey, served as ordinary for Ukrainian Catholics from 1957. The first Ukrainian bishop, A. Horniak, served as an assistant to Godfrey (1961–3) and then as exarch. He was forced to resign in 1987 over controversies concerning the Ukrainian patriarchate, and the administration of the eparchy was given temporarily to the exarch of France and Benelux, Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn. In October 1989 Bishop M. Kuchmiak was installed as exarch.

In France, Benelux countries, and Switzerland. Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky established the first Ukrainian Catholic mission in Paris in 1938, with J. Perridon as pastor. In 1946 Bishop Ivan Buchko, apostolic visitator for Ukrainian Catholics in Western Europe, made Perridon his vicar-general for France. In 1954 the archbishop of Paris was made ordinary for all Byzantine rite believers in France. A separate exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics in France, headed by Bishop Volodymyr Malanchuk, was created in 1961. In 1982 he was succeeded by Michael Hrynchyshyn, and the exarchate was expanded to include the Benelux countries (mainly, Belgium and the Netherlands) and Switzerland (from 1946 Ukrainian Catholics in these countries had been under the jurisdiction of Bishops Buchko and then Myroslav Marusyn).

In Austria. The first Greek Catholic church in Austria was Saint Barbara's Church in Vienna, established in 1775; a parish has existed there since 1784. Many prominent church leaders and theologians have served there, including Spyrydon Lytvynovych, I. Olshavsky, Yuliian Pelesh (bishop of Stanyslaviv eparchy and Peremyshl eparchy), and Ivan Snihursky. The parish has always been small; it has primarily served students and people working in the Austrian civil service. Many Ukrainian Catholic priests were trained at the Jesuit theological faculty in Innsbruck, and for a short time the Barbareum seminary in Vienna trained priests. Immediately after the Second World War many parishes functioned in displaced persons camps, but most Ukrainians soon emigrated to North America, and soon the entire Ukrainian population of Austria was less than 5,000. In 1946 the Vatican designated the Roman Catholic archbishop of Vienna as ordinary for Byzantine rite Catholics; to this day there is no separate Ukrainian Catholic bishop resident in the country; M. Hornykevych served as vicar general.

In Italy. Rome emerged as a major center of the UCC after the Second World War and the suppression of the church in Western Ukraine. Archbishop Ivan Buchko resided there and served as the church’s unofficial ambassador to the Vatican. Rome became the temporary residence of the archbishop of Lviv and metropolitan of Halych after Yosyf Slipy’s release in 1963. A variety of educational institutions—Saint Josaphat's Ukrainian Pontifical College, a minor seminary, the Ukrainian Catholic University (Rome)—as well as the secretariat of the synod of Ukrainian Catholic bishops, the headquarters of the Basilian monastic order and the Studite Fathers, and a number of other institutions were all located in Rome.

The accompanying tables (see TABLE 1 and TABLE 2) provide data on the state of the UCC in 1944 and in 1989. All active and retired clergymen and members of the monastic orders are included under ‘Priests,’ and all churches and other pastoral centers are included under ‘Parishes.’ The tables are based on various shematyzmy (see Shematyzm) and church almanacs.

Blažejovskyj, D. Byzantine Kyivan Rite Metropolitanates, Eparchies, and Exarchates: Nomenclature and Statistics (Rome 1980)
———. Schematism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church: A Survey of the Church in Diaspora (Rome 1988)
———. Ukrainian Catholic Clergy in Diaspora (1751–1988): Annotated List of Priests Who Served outside Ukraine (Rome 1988)
Bourdeaux, M. Gorbachev, Glasnost, and the Gospel (London 1991)

Wasyl Lencyk, Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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