Slipy, Yosyf [Slipyj, Josyf] (Slipy-Kobernytsky-Dychkovsky), b 17 February 1892 in Zazdrist, Terebovlia county, Galicia, d 7 September 1984 in Rome. (Photo: Yosyf Slipy.) Head of the Ukrainian Catholic church, major archbishop, metropolitan of Halych (see Halych metropoly), archbishop of Lviv (see Lviv eparchy) and bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi, cardinal (from 1965), and theologian; full member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society from 1930.
Slipy began studying theology at the Greek Catholic Theological Seminary in Lviv and at Lviv University (1911–12). He was ordained by Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky in October 1917, continued his studies at the Jesuit theological faculty in Innsbruck (TH D, 1918), and then defended his habilitation at Innsbruck University (1920). He completed his studies in Rome at the Gregorianum with a magister agregatus in dogmatics and a second habilitation (1924). In 1922 Slipy began to teach dogmatics at the Lviv Theological Seminary. He soon showed his abilities as an organizer of Ukrainian theological studies, in helping to found the quarterly Bohosloviia (which he also edited) and the Ukrainian Theological Scholarly Society, whose Pratsi he also edited. In late 1925 he was appointed rector of the theological seminary, where he established the Asketychna biblioteka (Ascetic Library) monograph series. In 1928 he was named the first rector of the Greek Catholic Theological Academy. This institution soon emerged as the most important center of Ukrainian Catholic theological study and training; it published numerous works on religious topics, developed a large museum of church objects and icons, and trained many priests and theologians. In 1935 Metropolitan Sheptytsky named Slipy canon of Saint George's Cathedral and archdean of Lviv archeparchy. In October 1939, after the outbreak of the Second World War and the Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine, Sheptytsky nominated Slipy as his coadjutor. The nomination was ratified by Pope Pius XII in November 1939, and in December Slipy was secretly consecrated and given the title Archbishop of Serrei. After Sheptytsky's death on 1 November 1944, Slipy succeeded him as metropolitan of Halych, archbishop of Lviv, and bishop of Kamianets-Podilskyi.
On 11 April 1945, after the consolidation of Soviet rule in Western Ukraine, Slipy, together with all the other Greek Catholic bishops, was arrested. He was sentenced at a secret trial in 1946 to eight years of hard labor for treason. After the completion of his sentence he was taken to Kyiv and told to endorse the liquidation of the Greek Catholic church and renounce his ecclesiastical rights and titles in favor of the Patriarch of Moscow. When he refused, he was again deported to a labor camp. He spent a total of over 18 years in the Gulag concentration camps, but he steadfastly refused to break allegiance with Rome and denounce the pope. In 1963, upon the intervention of Pope John XXIII and the American president John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev finally agreed to his release from a labor camp in Mordovia and permitted him to emigrate. Slipy arrived in Rome on 9 February 1963, where he was greeted as a true Christian martyr and a Ukrainian national hero. The Vatican recognized Slipy as the Ukrainian Catholic major archbishop with expanded powers and authority, and in December 1963 Pope Paul VI named him a member of the Sacred Congregation for Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. In January 1965 he was honored with the title and dignity of cardinal.
Slipy was especially concerned with improving the organization and prestige of his church. In a 11 October 1963 speech at the Second Vatican Council, he proposed the creation of a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate. He also convoked a synod of Ukrainian bishops, which the Vatican Congregation for Eastern Churches refused to sanction. In 1969, at the fourth synod of Ukrainian bishops, Slipy declared that the Ukrainian Catholic church ‘is now organized as a patriarchate,’ and in 1975 he accepted the title of patriarch; this too was opposed by the Vatican. Slipy's efforts toward realizing the separate identity of the Ukrainian Catholic church did meet with success toward the end of his life, however, when Pope John Paul II, in a 1980 letter to him, recognized the legal role of the synod in the Ukrainian Catholic church. The first officially recognized synod of Ukrainian bishops was then called by the pope in March 1980 and presided over by Slipy. The second synod (January–February 1983), also under Slipy, accepted the Statute of the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic church.
After his 1963 release Slipy also turned his attention to reviving Ukrainian Catholic scholarship. In November 1963 he founded the Ukrainian Catholic University (Rome) and an associated publishing house, library, and archive, and revived Bohosloviia as the organ of the Ukrainian Theological Scholarly Society (which had been renewed just prior to Slipy's release). He also renewed publication of Dzvony, a literary and popular-scientific journal, and Nyva, a religious journal. Slipy built the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Rome, modeled on the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, and initiated the publication of Blahovisnyk Verkhovnoho arkhyiepyskopa vizantiis’ko-ukraïns’koho obriadu. He purchased a former procurator general's office for his official abode, and established there the Ukrainian Catholic parish of Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Rome. He revitalized the Studite Fathers and acquired a monastery for them in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome. He organized branches of the Ukrainian Catholic University (Rome) in Washington, DC, London, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
As a theologian Slipy was an authority on dogmatic theology and scholastic philosophy. His earliest theological works, including his habilitation theses Die Trinitätslehre des byzantinischen Patriarchen Photios (1921) and De principio spirationis in SS Trinitate (published in 1926), were concerned with the Holy Trinity and attempted to reconcile Eastern and Western Christian differences over the nature of the Trinity and the procession of the Holy Spirit. A series of his works on the Sacraments was smuggled out of Ukraine in manuscript during Second World War and published in Yorkton, Saskatchewan (5 books in 3 vols, 1953–60). Slipy also published articles on the Church Union of Berestia, the history of the Ukrainian Catholic church, the influence of Saint Thomas Aquinas on Ukrainian theology, and other subjects; these have been collected and published in Rome in thirteen volumes (1968–84). In recognition of his scholarly work he was made full (1930) and honorary (1964) member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, full member of the Tiberian Academy in Rome (1965), and a member of the Papal Academy of Saint Thomas (1981). He also received honorary doctorates from the Ukrainian Free University in Munich and from several universities in the United States and Canada. Slipy's remains have been transferred, in accordance with his wishes, to a crypt at Saint George's Cathedral in Lviv. The ceremony was conducted on 28 August 1992 with more than a million faithful in attendance. In 1995 construction began in Slipy's hometown of Zazdrist on a multi-purpose museum-memorial complex to honor his memory.
Bilaniuk, P. ‘The Father of Modern Ecumenism: Patriarch Joseph Cardinal Slipyj (1892–1984): A Biblio-Biographical Sketch,’ Bohosloviia, no. 48 (1984)
Khoma, I.; Muzychka, I. (eds). Intrepido Pastori: Naukovyi zbirnyk na chest' Blazhennishoho Patriiarkha Iosyfa v 40-littia vstuplennia na Halyts’kyi Prestil 1.11.1944 (Rome 1984)
Pelikan, J. Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj (Grand Rapids, Mich 1990)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine