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Papal envoy to commemorate post-Soviet freedom of Greek Catholics in Ukraine

June 09, 2014

Pope Francis has named Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the retired Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his special envoy to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of religious liberty for the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo, which is located in southwestern Ukraine.

The commemoration will take place on June 28 in Uzhhorod, the site of the 1646 agreement in which 63 Eastern Orthodox priests entered into full communion with the Holy See.

Following World War II, Joseph Stalin’s Communist regime brutally suppressed the eparchy (diocese), which is the mother eparchy of the Eastern Catholic churches of the Ruthenian tradition and is immediately subject to the Holy See. In 1989, the Ruthenian Catholic eparchy was able to emerge from the underground.

Pope Francis’s June 7 appointment of a special envoy comes one week after a leading Russian Orthodox official strongly criticized the Eastern Catholics of Ukraine, referring to them as “a special project of the Catholic Church aimed at undermining canonical Orthodoxy.”


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