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Catholic World News News Feature

Ukrainian priest excommunicated November 23, 2007

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has announced the excommunication of a Ruthenian-rite priest in Ukraine, the KAI news service reports.

Father Basil Kovpak is the head of the Priestly Society of Saint Josephat Kuntsevych (SSJK), a group with ties to the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) which has been active among Byzantine Catholics in the Ukraine since the early 1990s. Bishops of the SPPX-- themselves excommunicated because they were consecrated without approval from the Holy See-- have ordained priests for the SSJK.

This is the second time that the excommunication of Father Kovpak has been announced. In 2003, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, excommunicated the defiant priest. However the Roman Rota later declared the excommunication null and void for lack of canonical form.

Last November, SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson illicitly ordained two SSJK priests and seven deacons. Father Kovpak has been excommunicated for his attendance at those ordinations.

The SSJK has a seminary and 30 seminarians in Lviv, Ukraine and has employed the assistance of SSPX clergy in the formation of its seminarians. The SSJK rejects the de-Latinization of the Divine Liturgy and promotes missionary activity among the Orthodox. Like the SSPX, the SSJK maintains that it is loyal to the Pope.

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