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Ukrainian prelate visits Rome, pushes for patriarchate

March 30, 2011

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv, the newly elected head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on March 30.

At his regular Wednesday audience, the Pope greeted the Ukrainian prelate, promising his prayerful support. Speaking in Ukrainian, the Pontiff praised the Ukrainian Church, “which is a part of the people who over 1,000 years ago received Baptism at Kyiv.” He voiced his confidence that the Ukrainian Church will flourish “in accordance with her own tradition and spirituality, in communion with the See of Peter.”

Archbishop Shevchuk said that when he spoke with the Pope—in the first meeting since his election last week to head the largest Eastern Church in communion with the Holy See—he would renew the appeal for Vatican recognition of a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate.

The Ukrainian Church has long sought that distinction, and members of the Church routinely refer to their leader as a “patriarch.” Pope John Paul II encouraged the request, but other Vatican officials have resisted the idea, citing the virulent opposition of the Russian Orthodox Church. Pope Benedict XVI has not offered any direct public comment on the idea.


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