• Home page
  • The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: History (End of 1980s to the Present)...

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church: History (End of 1980s to the Present)

16.11.2011, 14:03
On September 6, 2004, His Beatitude Lubomyr released the proclamation “On Approval of the UGCC Patriarchal System,” which justified the validity of the desire of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics to have a patriarchal structure for the church.

Emergence from the Underground

In the 1980s, the government again intensified its persecution of all dissidents, including religious ones. It killed three underground priests and several were arrested. In September 1982, the Initiative Group for the Protection of the Rights of Believers and the Church, which was headed by Josyp Terelya, was formed in western Ukraine. After Terelya’s arrest that same year, the group was headed by Vasyl Kobryn, who was arrested in 1984. The group published the underground newsletter “The Chronicles of the Catholic Church in Ukraine.” The activities of this group, however, were not accepted by the underground church episcopate, mainly because of a disagreement with the views of Josyp Terelya.

In the early 1980s, a crisis arose in the Greek Catholic underground due to the aging of the clergy and the partial withdrawal of people who attended churches of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and who became accustomed to it. Bishops were passing away. As a result, Bishops Sofron Dmyterko and Volodymyr Sterniuk secretly ordained several new bishops. On September 7, 1984, in Rome, Patriarch Josyf Slipyj, head of the UGCC, died. He was succeeded by Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Part of the Soviet Union. The weakening of the regime, a consequence of his reforms, became noticeable in many areas of the Soviet state. In particular, many prisoners were released from prison. In 1987, one of the liberated prisoners, human rights activist and dissident Ivan Hel became chair of the Committee for the Defense of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In the same year, a group of monks, nuns, and priests led by Bishops Pavlo Vasylyk and Ivan Semedij from the Mukachevo Eparchy announced their emergence from the underground in an appeal to Pope John Paul II with the words: “We, the bishops, priests, monks, nuns, and faithful of the Catholic Church in Ukraine who signed below, declare that in connection with the restructuring of the Soviet Union and the more favorable conditions that have appeared, and in connection with the anniversary of the 1,000th anniversary of the baptism of Ukraine, consider it inappropriate to continue to be in hiding, so we ask Your Holiness to promote in all possible ways the legalization of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the USSR. Through Your Holiness we address the government of the USSR with our appeal to withdraw a certain part of the Ukrainian Catholic Church from the underground.”

The Committee for the Defense of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church organized public services to mark memorable dates. The service on Lysa Hill, near Zolochiv, to mark the anniversary of Markian Shashkevych’s birth gathered about 50,000 people.

In 1988, during the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of the baptism of Rus, Cardinals Casaroli and Willebrands, who were in Moscow for the celebration, met with Bishops Philemon Kurchaba and Pavlo Vasylyk. The bishops informed the cardinals that the Greek Catholic Church exists and seeks its legal recognition and rehabilitation in the USSR. In Rome at that time there was also a celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of the baptism, in which participated Pope John Paul II and Ukrainian bishops and pilgrims from around the world. During the celebration, the pope released a statement in which he mentioned the persecuted Greek Catholic brethren in the USSR, which provoked considerable resentment from the church and state elite of the Soviet Union. On September 10, 1988, Greek Catholics in Poland celebrated the 1,000th anniversary of the baptism of Rus.

On May 16, 1989, the faithful of the UGCC, led by priests Hryhoriy Simkaylo and Mykola Simkaylo (now Bishop of Kolomyja and Chernivtsi), Volodymyr Viytyshyn (now Bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ihor Voznyak (now Archbishop of Lviv), and Bishops Philemon Kurchaba, Sofron Dmyterko, and Pavlo Vasylyk started a chain hunger strike on the Arbat in Moscow. The bishops tried to present the case to legalize the UGCC to the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, but he was not in the capital, and they were denied a meeting with Deputy Lukyanov. On May 25, 30 hunger strikers arrived at the Moskva Hotel, where the deputies who came to attend the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR were staying. The hunger strike lasted until October 14, when during peaceful actions the bishops of the UGCC and the Chair of the Committee for the Defense of UGCC Ivan Hel were able to give interviews to several international news agencies, which greatly hindered law enforcement agencies from using physical force. Academician Andrei Sakharov and Professor Sergei Averintsev spoke out in defense of the persecuted church.

At that time, the head of the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret (Denysenko), stated that the Greek Catholics have no problems in Ukraine and that they were never repressed.

On September 17, 1989, thousands of people attended a demonstration in Lviv to demand the legalization of the Greek Catholic Church. On October 29, during a service in the Transfiguration Cathedral in Lviv, Father Yaroslav Chukhniy commemorated Pope John Paul II instead of the Patriarch of Moscow and announced the transfer to the UGCC. After these events, many parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church transferred to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, including in other cities of Galicia.

After the meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II in Rome on December 1, 1989, which raised the issue of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and the Vatican, the Soviet Union started to allow Greek Catholic parishes to be registered. However, the Moscow Patriarchate said that in Galicia the majority of people are Orthodox, and Patriarch Pimen urged Gorbachev to protect Orthodox believers in western Ukraine. In many cities and villages in Galicia, with the support of the government, Orthodox communities were quickly registered, even there where they had earlier not existed, to prevent the registration of the Greek Catholic communities. Often the people who registered these Orthodox communities were representatives of the Communist nomenklatura who were acting on the orders of higher authorities.

The Work of the Quadripartite Commission

Due to the worsening interdenominational situation in Galicia, a quadripartite commission was formed. (The decision to establish it was made at the meeting of the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow on January 16, 1990.) The commission was made up of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Roman Curia, the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. It held several meetings in Kyiv and Lviv (March 6-13, 1990). Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky appealed to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches to include Ivan Dacko in the commission so he could be present at all the meetings where the members were to discuss issues related to the UGCC. However, the Curia refused, arguing that only bishops can participate (though the Vatican was represented by the priest Salvatore Scribano, and representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate were priests, not only bishops). The Vatican decided to delegate Metropolitan Stephen Sulyk from the United States and Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn (from the Roman Curia, Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches) to participate in the work of the commission. From Ukraine Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk and Bishop Sofron Dmyterko of Ivano-Frankivsk participated in the negotiations. From the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Methodiy of Voronezh and Lipetsk, Bishop Theodosiy of Khmelnytsky and Kamyanets-Podilsk, who were delegated by Moscow, and Bishop of Lviv Iryney and priest Oleksandr Shvets from the former Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kyiv, which was renamed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, took part in the commission.

Over the telephone, the head of the UGCC Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky named 15 points, which he wanted teh members of the commission to consider in their work. He also had a brief meeting with Metropolitan Stephen Sulyk before his departure from the Soviet Union. Metropolitan Sulyk and Archbishop Lubachivsky first went to Moscow and then traveled to Kyiv. In Kyiv by telegram through Orthodox Bishop Iryney they invited UGCC Bishops Volodymyr and Sofron to a meeting. It was the last day before the start (Metropolitan Volodymyr was invited at 4:00 p.m. and two hours later he boarded the train to Kyiv).

The meeting of the commission was held on the premises of the Moscow Patriarchate in Kyiv. The Orthodox side stated that the return of all churches that were seized by Greek Catholics was one of the main conditions necessary to repair the situation. Only after this, in their opinion, using the statistics, could they determine to whom which churches should belong.

During the discussion, representative of the Roman Curia Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn did not give Metropolitan Volodymyr an opportunity to speak, entirely relying on the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate, Secretary Archimandrite Nestor. The Greek Catholics were not allowed to have their own secretary. The doors to the room where the meeting was held were always open, thus in the next room the staff of the metropolitanate were able to hear everything. The staff also occasionally brought messages to the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate.

In general, the commission worked without any coherent agenda. At the end of the meeting on March 7, the commission published for the press “A Message of the Quadripartite Commission for the Normalization of Relations between the Orthodox and Catholics of the Eastern Rite in Western Ukraine.” However, the document was not signed by Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk and Bishop Sofron Dmyterko, but it was signed by Metropolitan Stephen Sulyk and Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn.

Representatives of the UGCC had a number of comments on the document: there was disdainful terminology regarding the UGCC, there was very vague language regarding church buildings. The commission did not resolve the issue on the return of the cathedrals of the UGCC in Lviv and Uzhhorod. Greek Catholics did not agree with the fact that the ROC did not recognize the UGCC as a church, but as a group of Greek Catholics. Thus it appeared that property could only be claimed by a certain group of believers, where they are in the majority, and not the church—the successor of the UGCC prior to 1946.

On March 8, the members of the commission came to Lviv, where they were greeted by over 2,000 Lvivians led by two Greek Catholic bishops. Many people welcomed the guests on their way to the Transfiguration Church.

Due to the noncompliance, the initiative of the representatives of the Vatican and Greek Catholic bishops from Ukraine led to a significant misunderstanding between them. The representatives of the commission also avoided talks with people who approached them. To this end, the Orthodox delegation repeatedly modified the route of its visits. Later Bishops Volodymyr and Sofron accused Metropolitan Sulyk and Archbishop Marusyn in fulfilling the wishes of the Moscow Patriarchate, not the people. Moreover, the Orthodox delegation under the name of the commission tried to convince local politicians of the need to prevent parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church from transferring to the UGCC.

After Metropolitan Volodymyr raised the question of the return of the Cathedral of St. George to the Greek Catholics, representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate threatened that they would leave their work with the commission. Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn ordered the metropolitan to stop all discussion on the matter.

On March 11 at the Transfiguration Church with the participation of Metropolitan Volodymyr, Bishops Philemon Kurchaba, Julian Voronovsky, Mykhailo Sabryha, Sofron Dmyterko and Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn and Metropolitan Stephan Sulyk, a Liturgy was celebrated. About 30,000 Lvivians attended the service. Myroslav Marusyn urged believers to have confidence in the Holy See and the commission. However, critical sentiments about the commission’s work spread among the lay activists (among them was Member of Parliament Iryna Kalynets and Chair of the Committee for the Defense of Catholic Church Ivan Hel). Later, representatives of the Vatican had a meeting with 10 bishops of the UGCC, during which the latter noted that the commission avoids resolving significant issues.

The last meeting of the Quadripartite Commission was on March 13. Metropolitan Volodymyr and Bishop Sofron negatively assessed the commission’s work and presented 14 demands from the UGCC, which were developed jointly with the head of the UGCC. They then left the meeting, refusing to continue to participate in it and to sign any documents.

Metropolitan Stephan Sulyk and Archbishop Myroslav Marusyn left Ukraine. Metropolitan Volodymyr advised them not to return. In his recollections of these events, Metropolitan Stephan Sulyk calls the main reason for the unsatisfactory work of the commission the lack of coordination between the Vatican delegation and the Ukrainian underground bishops, as well as the Greek Catholics’ inability to prepare for the work of the commission due to the fact they did not have qualified personnel and structures through which they could collect relevant data to support their position before the Orthodox.

On March 22 in Lviv bishops of the UGCC in Ukraine with the participation of Auxiliary Bishop of the Mukachevo Eparchy Ivan Margitych signed a joint declaration, which declared any decisions made by the Quadripartite Commission invalid for the UGCC. The main reasons for the protest against the legitimacy of the commission were the following: none of the documents were signed by Metropolitan Volodymyr; the refusal of the Moscow Patriarchate to recognize the UGCC as a church, as a juridical-canonical structure, rather than as a group of believers; the impossibility of organizing the work of such a commission until fundamental problems were solved; the UGCC’s moral and legal right to demand the return of property that was forcibly taken in 1946 by the Soviet authorities. The UGCC also demanded that the ROC recognize the illegitimacy of the “Lviv Council” of 1946.

The position of the Moscow Patriarchate during negotiations Metropolitan Sterniuk later described using the Latin proverb “melior est positio possidentis” (the position of the owner is better because he does not have to prove the right to property).

However, the situation became more complicated due to the emergence in Galicia of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). On August 19, 1989, two priests from the ROC—Volodymyr Yarema and Ivan Pashulya—announced their withdrawal from the underground and desire to be under the omophor of Metropolitan Mstyslav Skrypnyk of the UAOC in the United States. Influenced by events in western Ukraine, the Ukrainian Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church was renamed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to provide the Ukrainian part of the Russian Church a national character. Thus at the beginning of 1990 in Galicia, three churches—the UGCC, ROC (UOC-MP), and the UAOC—were drawn into conflict.

The work of the Quadripartite Commission had no positive results also for the reason that Orthodox representatives, who did not wish to be under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, were not involved in its work. In western Ukraine most of those who truly did not want to join the UGCC transferred to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

After the debacle of the Quadripartite Commission, Greek Catholics continued to demand the return of their property, especially their central church—St. George's Cathedral in Lviv. On April 9, 1990, the Lviv City Council decided to return the cathedral to the Greek Catholics by April 12. However, the Moscow Patriarchate refused to comply with this decision. The church choir members declared that they were Greek Catholics and refused to sing during services.

The chancellor for the head of UGCC, Father Ivan Dacko, and Marko Tomashek of the organization Church in Need visited western Ukraine in the spring and summer. After studying the situation, they wrote a report on the state of the church, which became of considerable interest to Pope John Paul II. At that time many Western journalists were visiting Ukraine. At a meeting, in response to the journalists' questions about the Greek Catholics, Mykola Kolesnyk, head of the Commission for Religious Affairs of the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR, said that the Greek Catholics voluntarily gave up their churches in 1946 because they wanted to hold services outdoors. This statement provoked laughter from the Western journalists.

On May 18, after a visit to Moscow, the Vatican’s papal nuncio to the USSR Msgr. Francesco Colasuonno visited Lviv. He passed to the UGCC bishops an invitation to meet the pope in Rome. On May 19, he celebrated Mass in the Church of Transfiguration with Metropolitan Volodymyr and Bishop Vasyl Losten of Stamford, who arrived in Ukraine on special instructions from the head of the UGCC.

On June 25-27, all the bishops of the UGCC convened for an extraordinary synod in Rome. It was the first synod of the Greek Catholic bishops from around the world since the dissolution of the church in 1946. Metropolitan Volodymyr Sterniuk, locum tenens of the church, reported on the status of the UGCC in Ukraine. The metropolitan said that when the church emerged from the underground, the church was served by the archbishop and six bishops (three bishops were in the Mukachevo Eparchy), 456 priests, 258 of which left the ROC. The number of believers was approximately 1.5-1.8 million. Over 100 churches were registered, although in reality there were 803 churches. The metropolitan also raised before the pope the issue of the normalization of the life of the eparchies of the UGCC in Ukraine and all over the Soviet Union, as well as the recognition of the patriarchate.

At the synod in Rome, the UGCC bishops appealed to the pope, asking him to officially recognize the episcopal ordination of the underground bishops from Ukraine. The synod also recognized the canonical appointment of the following Ukrainian bishops: Volodymyr Sternyuk – locum tenens of the Lviv Major Archbishopric; Philemon Kurchab – Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv; Julian Voronovsky – Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv; Mykhailo Sabryha – Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv; Sofron Dmyterko – Eparch of Ivano-Frankivsk; Pavlo Vasylyk – Coadjutor Bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk; Iryney Bilyk – Auxiliary Bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk; Ivan Semedij – Eparch of Mukachevo-Uzhhorod; Ivan Margitych – Auxiliary Bishop of Mukachevo and Uzhhorod; Josyf Holovach – Auxiliary Bishop of Mukachevo and Uzhhorod.

In Lviv, the local government repeatedly demanded that the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate free St. George’s Cathedral. But Bishop Andriy Horak refused to do so. The local council postponed the date for the transfer several times. Greek Catholics repeatedly organized massive processions to the cathedral but avoided a violent seizure of the church.

Moscow Patriarch Alexy II sent a letter to the government of Lviv and to Metropolitan Volodymyr on the inadmissibility of allowing the Greek Catholics to worship in the cathedral, saying it would destroy the ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox.

St. George's Cathedral finally returned to the Greek Catholics on August 19, 1990. On the Feast of the Transfiguration a massive procession from the Transfiguration Church to the cathedral was held with the participation of 300,000 faithful. It was the largest religious event in the history of the city.

At the next synod of the UGCC, which was held February 3-10, 1991, in Rome, the bishops from Ukraine were asked to consider a new division of eparchies in Ukraine and coordinate their boundaries at the next synod.

Normalizing Church Life in 1992-1997

On March 31, 1991, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, returned to Ukraine. Immediately after his arrival, the head of the church began to visit the faithful. And on April 23, the Supreme Council of the Ukrainian SSR passed the Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations,” which lifted the ban on religion and religious organizations. Citizens were given the right to freedom of religion.

In May 1992, Lviv hosted the Synod of Bishops, which was attended by the first Nuncio in Ukraine Antonio Franco. The synod resolved to establish the Patriarchal Curia and the permanent synod. Members of the Permanent Synod became: Bishop Sofron Dmyterko – Eparch of Ivano-Frankivsk; Bishop Mykhailo Hrynchyshyn – Exarch of France, Benelux and Switzerland; Bishop Ivan Martynyak – Eparch of Przemysl; and Bishop Ivan Margitych – Vicar of Mukachevo. Deputy members of the Permanent Synod: Bishop Myhailo Sabryha – Eparch of Ternopil; Bishop Vasyl Losten – Eparch of Stamford; Bishop Mykhailo Kuchmyak – Exarch of Great Britain; and Bishop Philemon Kurchaba – Vicar of Lviv.

After the synod, the new division of eparchies in Ukraine was presented to the pope: Archeparchy of Lviv; Eparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk; Eparchy of Mukachevo; Eparchy of Ternopil; Eparchy of Kolomyja and Chernivtsi; Eparchy of Sambir and Drohobych; Eparchy of Chernihiv and Vyshhorod. The synod also asked the pope to approve a second eparchy in Argentina, a metropolitanate in Brazil, and a metropolitanate in Poland. (On January 25, 1991, the Przemysl Eparchy was restored in a papal bull and was led by Bishop Ivan Martynyak, who was ordained in 1989.) Synodal commissions were formed on theology, ecumenism, anniversaries, Christian marriage and family, liturgy, seminaries and vocations, and monastic life.

For the first time in history a bishop of the Orthodox Church was present at the synod. Vsevolod Maydansky, Bishop of Skopelos of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, attended the synod and gave a speech at the meeting.

The synod in 1992 also adopted the following resolution: “To send a separate letter to the Holy Father so that the Holy See reminded monastic orders of the Latin rite which want to work in Ukraine to found homes and even provinces of Eastern rite as defined by the Second Vatican Council.”

The synod called for the return of the Przemysl Eparchy to the Metropolitanate of Halych and the official subordination of the Mukachevo Eparchy (Auxiliary Bishop of Mukachevo became a member of the Permanent Synod). (Starting in the early ’90s the Mukachevo Eparchy was in a temporary status of sui juris because of an internal ethno-political conflict.) On August 27, 1992, the remains of Patriarch Josyf Slipyj were moved from Rome to Lviv. His body was reburied in the crypt of St. George’s Cathedral.

On April 20, 1993, the formation of new eparches—Kolomyja and Chernivtsi, Ternopil and Zboriv, and Sambir and Drohobych—were approved.

At the church synod, which took place February 20-27, 1994, the bishops decided to ask the pope to extend the authority of the head of the UGCC to the entire territory of Ukraine. They proposed to divide the Mukachevo Eparchy into two parts and thus to form a Metropolitanate of Mukachevo (to preserve its traditions), which would be part of the UGCC. The same was proposed to be done in Poland by creating another eparchy. The synod also suggested an exarchate be created in Russia for Greek Catholic believers.

In 1992, with the blessings of the Major Archbishop of the UGCC, Archbishop Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, a commission was created to renew the Theological Academy. In 1994, the Lviv synod voted to restore the Lviv Theological Academy (LTA). In September of that year, the academy was officially opened. In 1998, the LTA was recognized by the Congregation for Catholic Education.

In 1995, with support from the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine Antonio Franco the process of the formation of the Mukachevo Metropolitanate began, but due to strong opposition from some of the clergy, the process was suspended.

The 1995 synod approved the Charter of the Synod of Bishops, reformed the old and created new commissions on liturgy, theology, canon law (particular law), ecumenism, beatification and canonization, marriage and family, evangelization and pastoral planning, catechism, monastic life, priestly vocation and education, budget and finance, anniversaries to attract church unity, the preparation of the council, youth.

In 1996, due to ill health of Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, the synod appointed Bishop Lubomyr Husar as his assistant. In the same year the Exarchate of Kyiv and Vyshhorod was created for central and eastern Ukraine, and the first session of the Patriarchal Synod of the UGCC, which focused on the new evangelization, was held.

In 1996, the UGCC Metropolitanate in Poland was founded. It consists of two eparchies: Przemysl and Wroclaw-Gdansk. It is led by Metropolitan of Przemysl and Warsaw Ivan Martynyak.

In 1998, the second session of the Patriarchal Council, dedicated to “The Role and Place of the Laity in the Church,” was held

UGCC in the Third Millennium

The head of the UGCC Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky died on December 14, 2000, in Lviv. On January 25, 2001, at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops Bishop Lubomyr Husar was elected head of the church. In the same year, the first time in the history of Ukraine, the pope (Pope John Paul II on June 23-27, 2001) visited Ukraine. The services in which the Holy Father participated took place with the participation of a huge number of faithful. There were two liturgies in Kyiv (Byzantine and Latin Rite), a meeting in Lviv, and two liturgies in the Lviv hippodrome. More than a million faithful from all over Ukraine attended the Byzantine liturgy in Lviv. Pope John Paul II proclaimed blessed 28 martyrs of the twentieth century: bishops, priests, monks, and nuns of the UGCC and one layman, who were martyred for their faith.

According to the decision of the Synod of Bishops, which was held in Lviv July 1-5, 2001, the Exarchate of Donetsk-Kharkiv was established in eastern Ukraine from the Exarchate of Kyiv-Vyshhorod. The decision, which was blessed by Pope John Paul II, was announced on January 11, 2002. Bishop Stepan Meniok became exarch. In 2002, the Exarchate of Odesa-Crimea was established; in 2003, Vasyl Ivasiuk became the exarch.

On June 28, 2002, the Lviv Theological Academy was reorganized into the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

From June 30 to July 4, 2002, the third session of the Patriarchal Council, dedicated to “Jesus Christ: The Source of the Revival of Ukrainian People,” took place in Lviv. The purpose of the council was to revive the Ukrainian people through sanctification of the sacraments that the church gives to people of good will and that lead to self-reflection and the formation of the Christian response to specific social problems.

At the Synod of Bishops on October 1, 2003, the bishops expressed that they “consider the declaration of the patriarchate of our church a momentous step to further its activities. Having taken into regard the proposal from members of our church from all over, the bishops at the synod recognize that the patriarchate is a natural step in the development of our church and meets the regulations of the Second Vatican Council, and have unanimously appealed to the Holy Father so that he will approve this decision with his authority. In our intention to declare the patriarchate, it is difficult to overemphasize the consensus of the bishops, clergy, laity, which was evidence of the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit that in unity and peace appeals to all the faithful of our church. Despite the existence of opposition on every side, we are sure that we will fulfill God's will, expressed and confirmed by the Second Vatican Council, and look forward to a positive resolution of the matter...”

Based on the decision of His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which was blessed by the Holy Father John Paul II, and in accordance with canon 57 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, after the approval of the Synod of Bishops, held in Kyiv on October 5-12, 2004, the seat of the head of the UGCC was moved to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on August 21, 2005. On this day the title of the head of the UGCC changed from “Major Archbishop of Lviv” to “Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych.” The transfer of the center of the UGCC from Lviv to Kyiv drew considerable criticism from representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine and Russia. The autocephalous Orthodox churches in Ukraine—the UAOC and the UOC-KP—were not opposed to such a move.

On September 6, 2004, His Beatitude Lubomyr released the proclamation “On Approval of the UGCC Patriarchal System,” which justified the validity of the desire of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics to have a patriarchal structure for the church.

The fourth session of the Patriarchal Council was held in 2007 in Kyiv and was dedicated to youth: “Youth in the Church of the Third Millennium.” At the council the participants analyzed the current state of youth in the church and society, outlined possible solutions to existing problems, suggested new forms and methods of evangelization of the youth, and worked on a program for a youth apostolate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In early 2011, on February 10, His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, head of the church since 2001, stepped down due to his age and poor health (including vision). At the extraordinary synod, held in Bryukhovychi from March 21 to 24, Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who ministered the eparchy in Argentina, was elected the new head of the UGCC. The enthronement took place on March 27 at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv. The inauguration was attended by representatives of all Orthodox Churches in Ukraine—UOC, UOC-KP, and UAOC—as well as by heads of Eastern Catholic Churches.

The fifth session of the Patriarchal Cathedral was held from August 31 to September 4, 2011, in Prudentopolis, Brazil. Its purpose was to consider monastic life in the church, what it should be like, and what the church expects from consecrated persons.


[1] Serge Keleher “Passion and resurrection – The Greek-Catholic Church in Soviet Ukraine 1939-1989”, Lviv “Stauropegion” 1993 p.166

[2] The Ukrainian Weekly 1990-14 // http://www.scribd.com/doc/16292831/The-Ukrainian-Weekly-199014

[3] Serge Keleher “Passion and resurrection – The Greek-Catholic Church in Soviet Ukraine 1939-1989”, Lviv “Stauropegion” 1993 p.169

[4] Там само.

[5] Стефан Сулик «Як Стефан став митрополитом», Львів 2001 с. 456-479

[6] Телефакс ОВЦС Московского Патриархата. 12.4.1990 // http://krotov.info/acts/20/1990/shtric_20.htm

[7] Програмова промова владики Володимира Стернюка // http://risu.org.ua/ua/index/resourses/church_doc/ugcc_doc/33829/

[8] Serge Keleher “Passion and resurrection – The Greek-Catholic Church in Soviet Ukraine 1939-1989”, Lviv “Stauropegion” 1993 p.169

[9] Рішення і постанови Надзвичайного Синоду Української Греко-Католицької Церкви, що відбувся у Ватикані в днях з 25 і 26 червня 1990 р. Б. // http://risu.org.ua/ua/index/resourses/church_doc/ugcc_doc/44197/

[10] Рішення і постанови Надзвичайного Синоду Української Греко-Католицької Церкви, що відбувся у Ватикані в днях 3-10 лютого 1991 р. Б. // http://risu.org.ua/ua/index/resourses/church_doc/ugcc_doc/44199/

[11] Закон України «Про свободу совісті та релігійні організації» // Відомості Ради УРСР. — 1991. — No 25. — С. 656—666.

[12] Рішення і постанови, Схвалені Синодом Єпископів Української Греко-Католицької Церкви, що відбувся у Львові в днях 16-31 травня 1992 р. Б.  // http://risu.org.ua/ua/index/resourses/church_doc/ugcc_doc/44200/

[13] Serhii Plokhy «Between Moscow and Rome: Struggle for the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine» Journal of Church and State, XXXVII, 4 (Waco, Tex., 1995) pp. 849-868

[14] Белей Любомир «Закарпатський казус із Мукачівською греко-католицькою єпархією»// http://ua-reporter.com/novosti/83823