Saturday, May 26
Укр Eng
Log In Register
PoliticsNeighboursEconomicsSocietyCultureHistoryOpinionsArchivePhoto Gallery
11 March, 2011  ▪  Taras Antoshevskiy

Après Husar, la deluge?

The new head of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church will have to be a team player

When I heard for the umpteenth time that His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar was deciding to resign from his post as head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), I barely stopped myself from responding, also for the umpteenth time, “The time isn’t right.” My worries about the Church concern several aspects, starting with the external situation and the fact that there has been no clear successor lined up to replace Lubomyr Husar. Still, Cardinal Husar himself has made it very clear that he trusts the Synod of Bishops to choose the right person and that external or political circumstances cannot determine the internal life of the Church.

In the 20 years since the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church emer­ged from the underground, it has gone through a number of phases. The primacy of Patriarch Lubomyr helped the Church to democratize and to rebuild its internal structure. The church has matured as the local Church of its people that cares for more than just religious services. Perhaps this is precisely why His Beatitude Lubomyr is confident of the bishops’ choice: whomever they choose, the Church will continue to move in the same direction.

As to external challenges, here there are fewer reasons for optimism. The political and social situation in Ukraine is already a challenge for any Church as a moral arbiter. So far, the UGCC was an example of the right way to co-exist with a government: when necessary, you work as partners; when necessary, you criticize it, even quite sharply. Immediately, certain speeches of Cardinal Lubomyr come to mind, back in 2002, when he criticized those who were not issuing wages to their employees and in spring 2006, when he took the Verkhovna Rada to task for its activities—then-Speaker Oleksandr Moroz even wrote a letter to Rome complaining about the bishop.

In his last public statement prior to resigning, Cardinal Lubomyr once again criticized the policies of the current Administration towards the country’s confessions, focusing not on individuals but on systems and approaches. The day before that, the UGCC had turned down potential handouts from the government because of the strings that might have been attached.

The political goal of weakening the Church’s influence among voters was one of the forces behind both a lefebvrist split and the activities of the Dognal sect.1 The efforts of the latter merit particular attention, as they are being publicly and actively supported by certain of those who favor the “Russkiy mir” [Russian World] from the Russian Orthodox Church [including] one of Education Minister Tabachnyk’s aides…

The new primate of the UGCC, whoever he may be, will find it harder to withstand pressure from the government, which seems to have finally understood that unless it can control the spiritual lives of its citizens, it will be difficult to maintain total control over the life of the country and its society.

It is no surprise that attempts to reconstruct an empire have been accompanied by manipulations at the spiritual level, by inventing and imposing civilizational, pseudo-religious formulations that are largely heretical and mythologized. The protest actions of Church dignitaries against the new authoritarianism is a major problem for its inventors. The leadership of the Church among other churches in the last decade has always been at the forefront of building civil society in Ukraine, so no matter who in particular is chosen, this will have to be a team player with a strategic development plan and a vision of its place in society. And this bears no relation to what today’s government is building in Ukraine or the ideology of a “Russian World.”

Related publications:

  • On May 16, Ukrainian filmmaker currently jailed in Russia as a political prisoner went on a hunger strike. In a public letter he wrote that he would only stop the strike if all 64 Ukrainian prisoners jailed in Russia for politically-motivated grounds are released
    day before yesterday, Stanislav Kozliuk
  • The opposition in Ukraine is mostly reactive and it chooses actions that will be most useful for criticizing the current Administration or gaining the attention of a specific part of the electorate. What Ukraine needs most right now is a consolidating program and a party that could present its own alternative for the country
    day before yesterday, Oleksandr Kramar
  • The strange multiplication by division of political parties in Ukraine and their internecine infighting
    day before yesterday, Denys Kazanskyi
  • Why are Ukrainian users more and more often finding themselves banned by Facebook?
    21 May, Yuriy Lapayev
  • How the Kerch bridge built by Russia blocks and threatens the ports in Mariupol and Berdiansk
    21 May, Denys Kazanskyi
  • Henryk Józewski represents some of the most interesting aspects in the Ukrainian-Polish history of the 20th century. What was his legacy as the voievode of Volyn and why he resigned on April 13, 1938
    21 May, Sviatoslav Lypovetsky
Copyright © Ukrainian Week LLC. All rights reserved.
Reprint or other commercial use of the site materials is allowed only with the editorial board permission.
Legal disclaimer Accessibility Privacy policy Terms of use Contact us