Ukrainian Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic)

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Date: 2003
New Catholic Encyclopedia
From: New Catholic Encyclopedia(Vol. 14. 2nd ed.)
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Organization overview
Pages: 5
Content Level: (Level 4)

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At the time of the Council of Nicaea (325) there was already a Church in the kingdom of the Bosporus on the north shores of the Black Sea. Arian Christianity was at that time spread among the Goths in Southern Ukraine. According to recent discoveries the first mission of Saints CYRIL and METHODIUS extended from the Black Sea to Kiev (c. 843–62). Photius stated that in 867 there was already a bishop in Rus. But official Christianization of Kievan-Rus, according to the mind of that time, took place when the ruler of the country, (Saint) Olga, was baptized in 955. Her grandson (Saint) Vladimir (baptized in Korsun, Crimea, 988) spread Christianity throughout the whole country.

Recent studies show that the immediate influence on that Church came not from Byzantium directly, but from Bulgaria. Just as the Bulgarian Church tried to have its own autonomous patriarch or at least an archbishop major, so did the Church in Kiev. The liturgical and canonical books also came from Bulgaria. There are Slavonic translations of Byzantine sources, such as the Nomocanon of Saint Methodius [Nomocanon (NC) of 50 titles—Ustiuzhska Kormcha], and even of the Nomo-canon of 14 titles of the first (pre-Photian) redaction (Yefremivska

Kormcha). The relations between Church and State were based upon the Church Statutes issued by Prince (Saint) VLADIMIR and his son Yaroslav. Even if the origin of these documents is of a later time, the law they express was from the era of these princes. The first cathedral, built in Kiev by (Saint) Vladimir, was called the church of tithes (Desyatynna), because tithes were paid to it. The first metropolitan of Kiev, Ivan, appointed about 1008, was of Greek origin; the first metropolitan of Ukrainian origin was Ilarion (1051), author of On the Law and Grace.

After the Great Schism of 1054 (see EASTERNSCHISM), the Metropolitan See of Kiev changed hands between those friendly and those opposed to Rome. In the beginning of the 12th century Kievan metropolitans, mostly of Greek origin, alienated Kiev from Rome, but in neither the 12th century nor the 13th did the Church of Rus-Ukraine officially break off communion with the See of Rome.

The attack of the Tatars in eastern Europe brought the Ukraine nearer to the Apostolic See (e.g., the participation of the Metropolitan Peter in the Council of Lyons 1245; the mission of John Piano de Carpini 1245 to 1246; the coronation of King Daniel with a crown sent to him by Pope Innocent IV, 1253). Under the Tatars the Church was respected and its rights guaranteed by the decrees (yarlycs) of the Khans.

To restore the discipline broken under the yoke of the Tatars, Metropolitan Cyrill III convoked a synod at

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Vladimir (1274), where the Kormcha Knyha was accepted as the official collection of the Slavic Nomocanon. The Kormcha Knyha was composed by the Serbian Archbishop Sava and came to the Ukraine from Bulgaria, through Prince Jacob Sviatoslavych, who was of Ukrainian origin. This canonical source underwent a double redaction, namely, Serbian and Ukrainian. The latter, with additions of sources of local origin [such as the constitution of Saint Vladimir, Niphonts' answers, some parts of Pravda Ruska, the Pravylo (rule) of Metropolitan Cyrill III], became the main canonical source for all Slavic Churches.

The fall of the first Ukrainian state (1349) brought chaos into the ecclesiastical situation in the UKRAINE, mostly because of an ardent propagandizing of Latin Catholicism emanating chiefly from the Latin metropolitanate. In the canonical field some new sources were obtained at this time: Mirylo Pravednoie (The Just Measure), a manual for judges composed of two parts, (1) instructions about just and unjust judgments, (2) 30 chapters taken mostly from the Ukrainian Kormcha; and the Instructions, which entered into the Kormcha.

Some hope for bringing order into Church relationships in the Ukraine was given by the Union of Florence (1439), in which the Kievan Metropolitan Isidore (1436–41) played a prominent part; this was an attempt to reconcile the Churches with due respect for the religious cultures of both. The immediate result of this union was the formation of the metropolitanate of Moscow (1448) and therefore, the division of the Kievan metropolitanate into two parts: the Kievan for the Ukraine and Byelorussia (1458), and the independent Muscovite, which also broke from Constantinople (1459). In the Polish-Lithuanian state the charter of King Ladislaus III (1443) acknowledged the Oriental clergy as equal to the Latin, but relations with Rome were terminated from the time of Metropolitan of Kiev, Joseph Bolharynovych (1501). His successor Jona abolished the decree against the Orthodox (1504). The next metropolitan, Joseph II Soltan (1507–21), wanted to introduce some reforms in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the synod of Wilno (1509), but they were never carried out. He also obtained from the Polish King a charter (1519) by which the rights of Kievan metropolitans over the whole Church, bishops, clergy, and monks, were acknowledged. This charter recalled the old constitutions of Kievan princes and was useful later for the Kievan Catholic metropolitans.

By right of patronage belonging to the Polish king, the highest spiritual posts were assigned to the laity, who were often unworthy. Monasticism fell into complete disorder and the secular clergy were uneducated. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church found itself under pressure from Latin Catholicism, as reformed by the Council of Trent, and from Protestantism. In the midst of this situation the leaders of the Ukrainian people came to the conclusion that the only feasible solution was communion with Rome. This was the origin of the Union of Brest Litovsk (1595–96). Prince Kostantin Ostrozhsky, with the papal legate Possevino, and Ipaty Potiy, with other bishops of the Metropolitanate of Kiev, had prepared the ground for this union. In 1594 in a secret meeting they decided to send to Rome Bps. Ipaty Potiy and Kyrylo Terletsky. In the autumn of 1595 these two legates, in the name of the Kievan Metropolitan Michael Rahoza and other bishops, submitted the Ecclesiastical Province of Kiev to the Roman pontiff. Pope Clement VIII issued two important documents at that time: the bull of union Magnus Dominus, Dec. 23, 1595, and the apostolic letter Decet Romanum Pontificem, Feb. 23, 1595. A concession was made to the Kievan metropolitans to appoint and consecrate bishops of the Kievan province without recourse to the Holy See. But the Pope wanted the formal act ofPage 279  |  Top of Article union to be performed in the synod of bishops, which was held in Brest-Litovsk (1596). In the same ciity, at the same time, anothe synod was held by the opponents to the union, among whom were two bishops and Prince Ostrozhsky. This opposing faction then became the Orthodox Church in the Province of Kiev.

The History of Union (1596 to 1839). In this period of its history the Ukrainian Catholic Church was most expansive and had a rich canonical evolution, but it had many struggles. In 1620 the patriarch of Antioch, Theophanes, under the protection of Ukrainian Cossacks, consecrated Job Boretsky as the Orthodox metropolitan and consecrated also other bishops, among whom was Meletius Smotrytsky, learned and famous at that time. The Polish Catholics of the Latin Church were discouraged about even the possibility of the union; even Rome was in doubt. But the martyrdom of (Saint) Josaphat Kuntsevych, Bishop of Polotsk (1623), helped stabilize the union. In fact Bishop Meletius Smotrytsky became a Catholic (1624). At the end of that century the bishoprics of Galicia, Peremyshl in 1692 (led by Bishop Innocent Wynnytsky), and Lvov in 1700 (led by Bishop Joseph Shumlansky), as well as the bishopric of Lutsk in 1702 (led by Bishop Dionysius Zhabokrytsky), were reunited with Rome. Even in the Carpatho-Ukraine, a union was concluded in Uzhhorod (1646).

Along with the burden of expanding the union, the bishops were faced with the task of internal organization. The first two metropolitans, Rahoza and Potiy, were occupied primarily with defending the union; polemic literature of that time abounded. The real internal organization of the whole Church was the task of later metropolitans, among the most famous of whom was Joseph Velamin Rutsky.

Other metropolitans (as Sielava, Kolenda, Zhokhovsky) had to defend the union against the attacks of the Orthodox, especially during the Ukrainian people's insurrection for independence under Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky in 1648. The defeatist attitude of Polish Catholics concerning the future of the union was often the object of Polish political bargain. In those turbulent times the interior life of this Church was also in disorder. There were dissensions between the hierarchy and the Basilian Order, caused by the metropolitan's seeking to be elected protoarchimandrite of the order. The many letters and decrees of the Roman Curia sought to resolve these dissensions.

After all these troubles the union in the Ukraine and in White Ruthenia was strengthened internally, especially by the synod of Zamost (1720, approved in specific form by Pope Benedict XIII 1724), which became the common law for the whole Ukrainian (Ruthenian) rite. In general the 18th century can be considered as the golden era of that union. Two-thirds of Ukrainian and Byelorussian people (about 11 million) were Catholic. West of the Dnieper River, union of the Orthodox Church with the Church of Rome was prevalent. In this expansion and development of the union the Basilians and their publications played a large part. The Basilian colleges, which rivaled those of the Jesuits and the Piarites, performed a great cultural mission to students from Russia, Moldavia, Rumenia, and Bulgaria.

Destruction of Union under Russia (1839). At the end of the 18th century the union in the Ukraine was endangered by the interference of RUSSIA in dismembering POLAND. Russia made use of the Haydamak Rebellion (1768), a social revolution, to persecute the union. To suppress the rebellion, the Russian armies invaded the Ukraine and carried out a purge against the union. The partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795) placed under Russian rule all the parts of the Ukraine and White Ruthenia inhabited by Ukrainian Catholics, except Galicia, which passed under Austria and Carpatho-Ukraine. The suppression of the union under Russia was started by Empress CATHERINE II. Metropolitan Rostotsky was taken to Petersburg, other bishops were expelled from their sees, except the bishop of Polotsk, Heraclius Lisowsky, famous for his initiation of liturgical reforms (1785–95). After the death of Catherine II (1796), two Catholic eparchies were restored for the Ukrainians in Lutsk and Brest and in general an alleviation of persecution existed under Czar Paul I (1796–1801) and his successor ALEXANDER I (1801–25). A new and decisive suppression of the union in the Russian Empire was carried out by Czar NICHOLAS I (1825–55), using for this purpose three bishops, Siemashko, Luzhynsky, and Zubko, who formally transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church (1839). Under the rule of the czar there remained in union with Rome only the eparchy of Kholm, which was located in the territory of the autonomous Polish Kingdom; even this was suppressed in 1875 after the Polish revolt of 1863 to 1864.

The Ukrainian Metropolitanate of Galicia (1807 to 1946). In Galicia, which in the partition of Poland became a part of Austria (1772), the Ukrainian Catholic Church, whose membership comprised almost the total Ukrainian population, was highly developed. The metropolitan See of Halych-Lvov, reestablished by the bull of Pope Pius VII (Feb. 24, 1807), inspired a new life in this part of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Outstanding metropolitans headed the reorganization and evolution of Catholic life, e.g., Cardinal Michael Levytsky (1816–58), Cardinal Sylvester Sembratovych (1882–99), Andrew Sheptytsky (1901–1944), and Joseph Slipyj, Archbishop Major (1944–). The Austrian government gave to the Ukrainian Catholics a special name, "Greek Catholics,"Page 280  |  Top of Article which is a misnomer. There were three eparchies (Lvov, Peremyshl, and Stanislaviv) and in 1934 the eparchy of Peremyshl was split in two parts by the erection of the Apostolic Administration of Lemkivschchyna. Each eparchy had its own major seminary, and in Lvov, Metropolitan A. Sheptytsky founded the Theological Academy (1928), directed by Joseph Slipyj. Even the chapters of canons were erected in each diocesan see in Austria. The Basilian Order (1882), renewed under Jesuit guidance, cooperated in the development of Catholic life in that province (both religous men and women). Missions, editorial work, and schools were administered by them. Studites (founded by Metropolitan A. Sheptytsky) as well as a Ukrainian branch of the Redemptorists were active. Several congregations of Sisters have been founded: Studites (1921); Servants of Mary Immaculate (1892); of the Holy Family (1912); of Saint Josaphat (1911); of Saint Joseph (1894); and Myrophores (1910).

Under the same Austro-Hungarian Empire, Carpatho Catholic life in Carpatho-Ukraine was concentrated in Uzhhorod, to which the bishopric see was transferred by Bishop Andrew Bachynsky (1772–1809). A theological seminary was founded there also. In 1816 in the western part of this diocese there was erected a separate Diocese of Pryashiv in Slovachia from the former separate vicariate.

In Hungary the Diocese of Hajdudorog (1912) for Hungarians and the Apostolic Exarchate in Miskolc (1923) for Carrpatho-Ukrainans were erected For Ukrainian emigrants, Croatians and Macedonians, the Diocese of Krizhevtsi (1777) was erected in Yugoslavia.

Destruction of Union in Galicia and Carpatho-Ukraine. Russia looked upon Galicia with hostile eyes even during World War I, and in the temporary occupation of Galicia in 1914 the Russians incarcerated Metropolitan A. Sheptytsky in a monastery of Suzdal (Russia).

In World War II the Communists, after final occupation of Galicia and Carpatho-Ukraine, determined to destroy completely the union in that area. In 1945 the Bolsheviks, after the death of Metropolitan A. Sheptytsky, arrested his successor Joseph Slipyj and all bishops ordinaries and auxiliaries: Hryhory Khomyshyn, Ordinary of Stanislaviv; Josaphat Kotsylovsky, Ordinary of Peremyshl; Nykyta Budka, Auxiliary of Lvov; Hryhory Lakota, Auxiliary of Peremyshl; and Mykola Charnetsky, Apostolic Visitor in Volynia. They all died except Slipyj who was liberated after 18 years of prison in Siberia and went to live in Rome (1963); he was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Paul VI in February 1965. The clergy who refused to accept Orthodoxy were arrested and deported or shot. But even worse, the Communists called a mock synod at Lvov in 1946, composed of some terrorized priests, who proclaimed the union with Rome made in Brest Litovsk in 1596 null and void.

In a similar way the Communists destroyed the Catholic Church in Carpatho-Ukraine. Bishop Theodor Romzha of Mukachevo was killed in 1947, and Bishop Paul Goydych, a Basilian of Pryashiv, as well as his auxiliary, Bishop Basil Hopko, were imprisoned in Slovakia. P. Goydych died in prison in 1960. In both Galicia and Carpatho-Ukraine a new Orthodox hierarchy was imposed by the patriarch of Moscow. Not one Ukrainian Catholic bishop passed over to Orthodoxy. Whatever the role that the Moscow Patriarchate played in the suppression of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, relations between the Catholics and the Orthodox became highly poisoned. From 1945 to the 1980s, the Ukrainian Catholic Church survived as an underground church, their clergy and faithful harassed and persecuted for refusing to join the officially sanctioned Orthodox Church.

In the wake of the 1980s glasnost that President Gorbachev initiated, the Ukrainian Catholic Church emerged from the underground and were allowed to register as a church on Dec. 1, 1989. Their faith strengthened, many closet Ukrainian Catholics emerged and new churches were opened. In many places, after much persistence the Ukrainian Catholic Church managed to repossess some of their church properties, which had been handed over to the Orthodox Church. As the situation improved, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, who was living in exile in Rome, was able to return to the archiepiscopal seat in Lviv. Since then, church life has grown by leaps and bounds. To cope with this growth, the Archepiscopal Exarchate of Kiev-Vyshhorod was established in April 1996, covering central and eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Catholic Church also received a big boost with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine in 2001.

Ukrainian Catholics in North America. There is a large Ukrainian Catholic diaspora in the United States, comprising four dioceses and 209 parishes. The Metropolitan See of Philadelphia is the principal Ukrainian Catholic See in the United States.

Ruthenian children in Sunday clothing, waiting for church, c. 1920, Tedevlja, Carpatho-Ukraine, USSR. ( Scheuffler CollectionCORBIS) Ruthenian children in Sunday clothing, waiting for church, c. 1920, Tedevlja, Carpatho-Ukraine, USSR. (© Scheuffler Collection/CORBIS)
Exterior view of Ukrainian Catholic Church, Lexington, New York. ( Nik WheelerCORBIS) Exterior view of Ukrainian Catholic Church, Lexington, New York. (© Nik Wheeler/CORBIS)

Bibliography: A. M. AMMANN, Abriss der ostslawischen Kirchengeschichte (Vienna 1950). A. BARAN, Metropolia Kiovensis et Eparchia Mukačoviensis (Analecta Ordinis S. Basilii Magni, ser.2, sec.1, v.10; 2d ed. Rome 1960). B. BOYSAK, The Fate of the Holy Union in Carpatho-Ukraine (New York 1963). T. HALUŠČYNSKYJ and M. M. WOJNAR, eds., Acta Innocentii Pp. IV (Sacra Congregazione Orientale, Codificazione orientale, Fonti (Rome 1930–), ser. 3, v. 4.1; 1962). M. HARASIEWICZ, Annales ecclesiae Ruthenae (Lvov 1862). E. HERMAN, De fontibus iuris ecclesiastici Russorum (Codificazione orientale, Fonti, ser. 2, fasc. 6; 1936). G. HOFMANN, Die Wiedervereinigung der Ruthenen, pt.1 of Ruthenica, 3 pts. (Oriontalia Christiana, v. 3.2, no.12; Rome 1925). H. D. HOLOVECKYJ, Fontes iuris canonici ecclesiae Ruthenae (Codificazione orientale,Page 281  |  Top of Article Fonti 8; 1932) 585–646. M. LACKO, "The Forced Liquidation of the Union of Uzhorod," Slovak Studies I, Historica 1 (1961) 145–85. J. PELESZ, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom, 2 v. (Vienna 1878–81). I. WLASOVSKY, Outline of the History of the Ukrainian Church (New York 1956–), in Ukrainian and English. I. PATRYLO, Archiepiscopi-metropolitani Kievohalicienses (Analecta Ordinis S. Basilii Magni, ser. 2, sec.1, v. 16; 2d ed. Rome 1962). B. PEKAR, De erectione canonica eparchiae Mukačoviensis (an. 1717) (ibid., ser. 2, sec. 1, v. 7; 2d ed. 1956). S. TOMAŠIVSKYJ, An Introduction to the History of the Church in the Ukraine (ibid. v.4, fasc.1–2; 1931), in Ukrainian. A. G. WELYKYJ, Documenta pontificum romanorum historiam Ucrainae illustrantia, 2 v. (ibid. ser. 2, sec. 3, v.1–2; 1953–54). M. M. WOJNAR, De regimine Basilianorum Ruthenorum a Metropolita J. V. Rutskyj instauratorum (Rome 1949); "The Code of Oriental Canon Law De Ritibus Orientalibus and De Personis," Jurist 19.4 (1959). R. ROBERSON, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey (6th ed. Rome 1999).


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Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3407711321