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Ukrainian Cardinal Says Vatican Studying Steps To Make Him Patriarch

25.11.2002, 16:52
Nov-21-2002 Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is studying the practical steps that would have to be taken, including ecumenically, in order to proclaim the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church a patriarch, said Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Lviv.

The cardinal, spiritual leader and major archbishop of the Ukrainian church since 2001, has continued the 40-year campaign of his predecessors to win recognition of the patriarchal status of their Eastern-rite church. "I think something is moving," the cardinal said Nov. 20 while at the Vatican for a meeting of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. "Studies are being made because it is a very delicate question," one that could provoke strong negative reactions from Orthodox churches if not explained and discussed with them, he said. Cardinal Husar said he believes Pope John Paul II would like to give the Ukrainian Catholic Church the patriarchal status that most of the other Eastern Catholic churches have enjoyed for decades. In the past, he said, "it was simply a matter of a papal decree." But since the Second Vatican Council and its embracing of "ecumenical commitments and sensitivity," he said, the Vatican wants to ensure any decision is "supported and accepted by the Eastern churches -- both Catholic and Orthodox." In June 2001, Cardinal Husar told reporters in Rome he was "trying to convince the Holy See that both for ecumenical reasons and in keeping with the Second Vatican Council," the patriarchate of his church should be recognized. It would show the Orthodox that the Vatican fully respects the traditions of Eastern Christianity and would not try to impose structural changes on their church as a condition for full unity, the cardinal had said. In addition, he had said, the Second Vatican Council's document on the Eastern Catholic churches specifically recognized the patriarchate as "a traditional form of government in the Eastern Church" and said that "where needed, new patriarchates should be erected." But in the 38 years since the document was issued no new Catholic patriarchates have been created. The Melkite, Maronite, Coptic, Syrian, Chaldean and Armenian Catholic patriarchates, which are of ancient origin, were recognized formally in the centuries following the 15th-century Council of Florence. The powers of a major archbishop and a patriarch are the same: Both are the heads of their churches and can convoke a synod of their bishops. However, when a synod of bishops elects a patriarch, he requests ecclesial communion with the pope. When a synod elects a major archbishop, the election must be confirmed by the pope.