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New Ukrainian Catholic leader to ask Pope for patriarchal status

March 29, 2011

Two days after his March 27 enthronement as head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said he would ask Pope Benedict to raise the Eastern Catholic church to the dignity of a patriarchate.

“Today I'm departing with my bishops and all of the metropolitans of our church to Rome, because it's our duty to make a courtesy visit to the Holy Father,” said Archbishop Shevchuk, 40. “We’re really going to tell of how our church is developing and that each developing church [becomes] a patriarchate, because a patriarchate is a period in the completion of the development of a church.”

Archbishop Shevchuk’s predecessor, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, had also pressed for the elevation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to the dignity of a patriarchate. Pope John Paul II had indicated that he was sympathetic to the desire, but felt the time for such a move was not ripe in light of Orthodox opposition.

With 4.4 million members, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest of the 21 Eastern Catholic churches. The Coptic Catholic Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Maronite Catholic Church, Armenian Catholic Church (based in Lebanon), and Syrian Catholic Church are the only six with patriarchs; all are headquartered in the Middle East.


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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Mar. 29, 2011 6:01 PM ET USA

    Moscow certainly wouldn't be very impressed, and given the recent rapprochement with Rome, perhaps the idea should be revisited, as skladach says, in about twenty years.

  • Posted by: skladach - Mar. 29, 2011 12:04 PM ET USA

    After an almost gridlocked "conclave", an ailing, limited Major Archbishop has just been replaced with his young former secretary, who has been a bishop less than three years. And they're talking about a Patriarchate? With all due respect: ask again, maybe twenty years from now.