Saturday, 8 November 2008

Reforms of the Basilian Order


"When reform is dissociated from the hard work of repentance, and seeks salvation merely by changing others, by creating ever fresh forms, and by accommodation to the times, then despite many useful innovations it will be a caricature of itself. Such reform can touch only things of secondary importance in the Church. No wonder, then, that in the end it sees the Church itself as of secondary importance."
(Josef Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Presentation to the Catholic Academy in Bavaria on the question of Church Renewal, 1971).

In the history of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, of all religious communities, the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat maintains the pride of place as the most significant religious and cultural contributor. Over the centuries, the Order has undergone several reforms which have changed its identity and mission. In this article, I will present an outline of these reforms together with a reflection as to their significance for the Basilians’ historical and contemporary mission within the Church.

Before addressing the subject of recent reforms of the Basilian Order, we should have an idea about what the term “reform” meant in the past and what it means today. Today, reform is understood to mean discarding what is old and no longer useful and adopting what is new and fresh. In modern philosophies, new is considered to be better than old, and change for the sake of change is considered a sign of life. In former times, change was perceived as a sign of decay, as it is in nature. The past was considered a model for the present and changes, improvements, indeed reforms, were meant to bring a thing back to a pristine form which, ideally, was supposed to be better. This is the etymological meaning of the word re-formatio itself, to bring a thing back to its original form, not to give it a new one. Even though the intention was to bring things back to a former state, in hindsight, we can say that change indeed did occur, old realities ceased and new ones came into being.

The idea of bringing things back to an original state was the mindset behind the first Basilian “reform”, if we can call it that. Byzantine Christian monasteries generally followed the Rules Saint Basil the Great (329-379) developed by Saint Theodore Studite (760-826). The name “Basilian” was first used by Latin Catholics as a generic name for Greek monks in Southern Italy. In the sixteenth century, monastic life in present day Ukraine and Belarus was undergoing a period of laxity and decline. Immediately following the Union of Brest, two monks of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Vilnius, Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky and St. Josaphat Kuntsevych, intended to bring what they understood as an already existing “Basilian Order” back to its pristine state. In a formal sense, no such unified religious order existed. Monasteries that followed the Basilian or Basilian-Studite rules were independent of one another and fell under the jurisdiction of the local bishop. Rutsky and Josaphat’s 1617 reform actually created a new religious order along the lines of the semi-monastics of the west (the mendicants), such as the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Carmelites.

Taking its name from its first Vilnius monastery, the new Congregation of the Holy Trinity of the Order of St. Basil the Great spread and flourished across modern day Belarus and Ukraine and played a key role in the education both of laity and clergy helping preserve the distinctiveness of the Ruthenian-Ukrainian culture. Being the only religious order in the Kyivan Church, all Ruthenian bishops were chosen from among its ranks. The Basilian order was considered to be the backbone of the Uniate Church but it was virtually suppressed by outside political interference, after Russia and Austria partitioned Ukrainian lands at the end of the eighteenth century.

If we count the 1617 foundation as a reform, then the second major reform would be that of Dobromyl, began in 1882 (although several smaller reforms had taken place in the 18th and 19th centuries). We might call this the first recent Basilian reform, one that had direct consequences for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in the homeland and abroad. Austrian state interference in Church affairs, known as Josephism, proved beneficial in revitalizing the Greek-Catholic Church as a whole, but also led to the decay of monastic communities such as the Basilians. By the 1870’s, both government and Church officials had become alarmed at the growing influence of Russophilism in Ruthenian society, but it was the liquidation of the Kholm Eparchy by the Russian Empire, in 1874, that proved to be the catalyst that sparked the reform. Polish Jesuits from Austrian Galicia were secretly sent into the Kholm region to assess the situation. As a result and as a remedy to the Kholm situation, Jesuit superior Father Henryk Jackowski devised a plan to reform and revitalize the Basilian Order, virtually re-organizing it from its foundations. The Basilian provincial superior (protohegumen) Klymenti Sarnytsky sent a letter to Rome, asking for the Jesuits to enact this reform, and Pope Leo XIII confirmed the request with his apostolic letter Singulare Praesidium of 12 May 1882. Named after the site of the first reformed monastery, the Dobromyl Reform lasted until 1904, when the governance of the Order was given over to the newly reformed Basilians.

The Dobromyl reform had been designed to strengthen the Greek-Catholic Church for two main reasons: as a defense against the Russophile movement (political and religious) and to prepare dedicated celibate missionaries for work among the Orthodox populations, especially in the Russian Empire. As its mission was intended to go above and beyond Galician concerns, the Pope exempted the Order from the jurisdiction of the local bishops and substantially released the Basilians from a sedentary monastic schedule. The latter shift originated during of the Jesuits' drafting of the post-reform constitutions. The change was tolerated despite warnings by Vatican experts who foresaw that too many exceptions would endanger the order's original monastic identity.

Contrary to initial Ukrainian apprehensions, the reformed Basilians became staunch allies of the national movement. Perhaps Dobromyl’s most notable consequence was the formation of zealous missionaries and leaders for Greek-Catholic communities in the homeland and the Diaspora; among these were the great figures of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, Blessed Bishop Josaphat Kotsylovsky, Blessed Bishop Pavel Gojdych and other priest-martyrs and confessors of the Faith. Another positive consequence was that their semi-monastic regimen made the Basilians ideal for working among the Ukrainian peasants and in Ukrainian national and scholarly fields. This reform has been described by the prominent historian John-Paul Himka as “the most far-reaching response to the national movement from a Christian perspective.”

The Dobromyl Reform needs to be judged historically and by what it intended to accomplish. It did not intend nor could it resolve all of the needs of the Greek-Catholic Church nor the needs of religious life. It met a particular need of a particular situation during a particular historical period. Despite the fact that it was the only male religious congregation in the Ruthenian-Ukrainian Church, and a small fledgling one at that, the reformed Basilian Order was able to establish missions among the Ukrainian immigrants in Brazil (1897), Canada (1902) and other parts of Europe. In order to improve the quality and discipline of the secular clergy, promote celibacy and combat Russophile tendencies, the Ukrainian Bishops turned over to the Order’s direction the Greek-Catholic major seminaries in Rome (1904), Stanislaviv (1906), the wartime seminary of Kroměříž in Moravia (1915), and Lviv (1920).

The reformed Basilians were essentially instruments of Leo XIII's unionistic policy, which promoted respect for and return to the traditions of the Christian East in order to bring the Orthodox into communion with Rome. This policy was generally in force until the 1940's. Dobromyl did not intend to revive traditional oriental monasticism, something which one of the reformed Basilians, Metropolitan Sheptytsky, would address in creating the Studite communities. Indeed, Sheptytsky’s ever-deepening appreciation of his Church’s oriental heritage brought him into conflict with his fellow bishops and with the Basilians, who agreed with the generally-held hybrid model which Cyrille Korolevskij referred to as “liturgical uniatism”.

The character which the Dobromyl Reform had imprinted upon the thoroughly revamped Basilian communities can be said to have lasted, more or less intact, until the Second Vatican Council and beyond. However, imperceptible changes were taking place that would lead to a third (albeit minor) reform in the 1950's. Dobromyl achieved a major shift in attitude or in emphasis from an identity based on community to one based on mission. At first, this was hardly perceptible because the reformed constitutions were implemented in the large, older Basilian monasteries in Galicia. The missionary and other active work of individual members of the community did not affect the day-to-day monastic regimen, although the full Divine Office was only maintained in the novitiate monastery. However, a shift had occurred and the mindset had changed. The Order began to establish a large number of small mission-like communities that made even a semi-monastic regimen difficult if not impossible. Although their roots were monastic, in practice, the Basilians began move towards a lifestyle closer to that of the purely active congregations (like their mentors, the Jesuits) and away from that of the semi-monastic mendicants. With the liquidation of its original foundations in the Communist-bloc countries, the model for the Order's future essentially became the tiny missionary communities of the Diaspora, which were almost entirely orientated around parish apostolates.

The third reform codified this shift-in-emphasis into a new set of constitutions approved by the Apostolic See in 1955. These constitutions took into account both changes in Church legislation and in the growth of the Order. For instance, according to new requirements of the 1950’s, the profession of temporary vows for a minimum of three years was introduced before one was eligible to profess solemn, permanent vows. Also, since 1932, the Order had a new name, the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, and had been divided into several provinces headed by a General Curia in Rome. The new constitutions gave the ancient title of protoarchimandrite to the superior general, a title that had been abolished by the Russian Tsar in 1804. Despite the return to nomenclature of an earlier period, a further shift in mindset-identity is apparent in the 1955 constitutions. For example, the term monasterium, used in the former constitutions to designate large, established communities, was changed to domus, as in the Jesuit Constitutions. Similarly, smaller outposts followed the Jesuit designation of residentia. According to the canonical classifications of the time, the Basilians fell under the heading of clerices regulares, a very general term meaning clerics (priests) who followed a religious rule. One could say that, at least from the 1950's, the clerices component was emphasized over the regulares one. Basilians were trained to be monks during their initial formation but, once they left the novitiate, they spent much of their mission engaged in the work of secular priests. Another example of a change in mindset revealed in terminology may be found in the fact that, in Basilian Diaspora parishes, the monastery is often referred to as a rectory, the term for residences of eparchial priests.

The Constitutions of 1955 were the last to have been formally approved by the Apostolic See. Not ten years later, the decrees of the Second Vatican Council necessitated another major reform. Each member of the Order received questionnaires and, based on the feedback received, an extraordinary Basilian General Chapter, held in 1969, issued experimental constitutions. With minor modifications in 1977, 1993 and 2002, these same constitutions basically have remained in force until today. Following along the lines of Latin religious Orders, the post-Vatican II reforms saw a significant change in the external formalities and obligations of religious life: external penances and the obligation to wear religious garb were relaxed. Despite the visible differences, the changes in the constitutions can be said to have been essentially cosmetic. As with the 1882 reforms, the most significant change after Vatican II was one of attitude. Immediately after the Council, Protoarchimandrite Athanasius Welykyj, especially through his annual letters to the whole order, inaugurated a new spiritual attitude of dialogue as opposed to blind obedience. An emphasis was placed upon personal responsibility, as opposed to external controls. Welykyj's wide, spiritual vision, however, was not always understood nor accepted by the local superiors, and his spiritual and scholarly inheritance remains largely unclaimed by the Order.

The principal task given to each religious community, by the Second Vatican Council’s decree Perfectae Caritatis, was to search for and to return to the charism of its founder. Essentially, the Council was asking for religious to more carefully define their identity and base their mission on it. This seemingly straightforward task was not so simple for the Basilians, as they had undergone several reforms and major shifts in identity. Postconciliar soul-searching revealed some cracks in the reality of the Order, which reflected unrefined seams still present from past reforms. Even the question of their founder’s identity proved to be difficult to answer: should the Basilians look for their original charism in the monastic communities of St. Basil, whose rules continued to be their spiritual guide? Were their origins not with the mendicant-style Order founded by Rutsky and St. Josaphat? Or should they retain the missionary and very clerical character imprinted on them by the late-nineteenth-century Jesuit reform?

The post-Vatican II Basilian constitutions also reflected the changed attitude of the Order’s superiors regarding liturgical matters. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Ukrainian hierarchy and clergy were divided down-the-middle as to whether or not the latinizations which had crept into their worship should be purged. The Basilians had generally opposed such reforms until a conflict occurred over the de-latinized liturgical books issued by the Apostolic See, beginning in 1940. This conflict resulted in the removal of the Order's interim vicar general and the suspension of priests who refused to use the new Roman editions. As a consequence, all post-1955 constitutions included stipulations for superiors to be diligent that only the approved liturgical books are used, although resistance has continued even until the present, particularly in the order of celebration for the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony.

The post-1969 constitutions were experimental, in order to allow Basilian communities throughout the world to put them to the test. After twenty-five years, the Order should have presented a definitive edition for approval to the Apostolic See. However, two key contemporary events prevented this from happening. In 1990, Pope John Paul II promulgated the Code of Canons for the Oriental Catholic Churches and, the same year, the Order was resurrected in Eastern Europe. The fall of communism allowed the underground Basilian communities to re-emerge and for the Order to re-establish its European provinces. These re-activated provinces, together with Ukraine, now held the majority of the Order's members but they had not lived through the turbulent experimental post-conciliar years. The period of experimentation had to be prolonged another ten years, in order that the European communities could integrate their experience of community life into the Basilian rules, and that these rules be made to conform to the stipulations of the new Oriental Code.

By far, the most significant change in the Basilian constitutions since 1969 has been the change in the selection process of their superiors. The Basilian electoral system was based on the highly centralized Jesuit model whereby all offices were appointed from above, rather than elected from below. A notable exception was the choice of the first reformed Basilian provincial, Father Platonid Filas, in 1904, who was selected by popular vote. Nevertheless, from the 1896 constitutions through to 1931, minor superiors were appointed by the Galician provincial superior (who acted as general superior) and his curia. These superiors automatically became members of the electoral chapters. This meant that that the collective membership of the Order had little say in the selection of their superiors, a fact which gave rise to concern among the Ukrainian Church hierarchy at the turn of the twentieth century. Metropolitan Sheptytsky drew attention to the fact that that a small group, made up of the major superior and his appointees, who numerically dominated each electoral chapter, had become a self-perpetuating ruling caste. As a result, Sheptytsky suggested that the electoral system be reformed in a way that would grant more authority to the members of the Order at large.

Little was done to reform this system until 1931, when the Order was divided into seperate provinces and the power to appoint minor superiors was given to the individual provincial superiors. After Vatican II, an indicative vote was introduced, granting consultation rights to the general membership of each province as pertaining to the selection of their provincial superiors. Nevertheless, the provincial chapters (made up largely of unelected Fathers) continued to select candidates without being bound to heed the indicative voice. These chapters then presented a ternary of candidates to the General Curia, which retained the power to appoint the Provincial superior and his counsellors. At the general chapter of 1996, a compromise formula was agreed upon in which the provincial chapters received the power to directly elect their curias, although those elected still require confirmation by the general curia. This current system gives more power to the largely unelected provincial chapters, but still fails to give adequate heed to the voice of the membership at large, as Sheptytsky had proposed. As an order of pontifical (that is papal) rite, however, the election of the general superior and his curia continues to require confirmation by the Apostolic See.

Basilian General Chapters of 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008 have all struggled to agree on a definitive version of the constitutions to present for approval to the Apostolic See. Consistent with the norms and guidelines in place for such documents, the new constitutions are made-up of a permanent, general section for the whole order (called the pravyla or constitution) and a more specific section that can be amended from time to time called the pravylnyk or directory. This distinction had already been introduced in the earlier experimental constitutions. A novelty, which is to be introduced, is that each province will have its own directory, adapted to the local culture. Also, the new constitutions will be less wordy and rhetorical than previous versions.

The process of producing a definitive text revealed diverging tendencies within the Order as to which of its past reforms should be taken as the basis for its present identity and charism. Even the term and concept of charism was hotly debated, revealing that even the more educated among the chapter Fathers could be out of touch with contemporary Church Magisterium concerning religious life. In addition, a cultural, geographical and even an age divide was revealed in the Order: the older North and South American delegates being generally orientated to the Dobromyl/mission model while the younger European Fathers looked back to the Order's foundation of Rutsky-Josaphat as the basis for their identity.

Another point of debate was over the Basilian’s traditional five vows. In addition to the standard vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, post-1882 constitutions had added the Jesuit vows, one of obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff and another not to aspire to higher offices or honours. The experimental constitutions of 1969 had reworded the vow to the Pope into a promise and discarded the vow to shun honours, although the latter was re-inserted in the 1993 text. Despite pressure based on spurious theological and canonical arguments, the General Chapter of 2004 voted to retain the oath of obedience to the Roman Pontiff in the original form of a vow, as in the last approved constitutions of 1955. Unfortunately, subsequent chapters have allowed it to be “linguistically rendered-away” into a promise.

One matter that appears to have been left untreated in the reforms of the Basilian rules is the question of the Order’s parishes. Before the First World War, with the rarest exceptions, Basilian churches did not enjoy the status of parishes. At first, in Diaspora mission territories, the Basilian mission acted as surrogate to eparchial structures. Later, due to jurisdictional and legal conflicts, the Order negotiated contracts with individual dioceses whereby their principal churches were given to the Order’s care in spiritualibus et in temporalibus, according to the canonical nomenclature of the time. This meant that the spiritual mission as well as the church property and all revenues (including collections) fell under the jurisdiction and ownership of the Order alone. The Second Vatican Council gave greater emphasis to the universal mission of the diocesan bishop and did away with the temporal-spiritual jurisdiction of religious orders in matters pertaining to the faithful. Therefore, all contracts negotiated with the Basilians lack their former canonical vigor, and yet, hitherto, neither the Basilian superiors nor the eparchial bishops have taken the initiative to renegotiate such agreements in the light of current Church law.

Another difficult question that remains unresolved concerns that of the Basilian‘s material assets and their relation to their own mission and to that of the Church. Over the centuries, through the bequests of benefactors and through a frugal and laborious life of communal religious poverty, the Order amassed large landholdings both in the Europe and in the New World. In the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, these properties and questions connected with them led to conflicts with the church hierarchy and to internal difficulties in the congregation itself. For instance, not ten years after the completion of the austere Dobromyl Reform, Metropolitan Shepytsky and his suffragens (two of them were themselves Basilians) had noticed that the Order’s superiors were already being appointed for their administrative skills and financial savvy rather than according to the spiritual and human qualities neccessary to be genuine religious leaders. They opined that the Basilians were spending too much time on oiling their worldly machinery, which distracted them from their Order’s rightful purpose and induced them to look after their own interests at the expense of those of the Church. The bishops further lamented that although Pope Leo XIII had decreed the Basilians were supposed to help the hierarchy, instead, the Order had become a competing parallel structure; in their words, “a church within a church”.

Returning to the latest Basilian reforms: based once again on feedback from the worldwide membership of the Order, the 2000 general chapter established a commission to produce a draft project of the definitive constitutions. This project was presented, voted upon, and modified by the 2004 general chapter, but later was rejected by the canonical commission which that chapter had created. The project commission had made the error of failing to take the last constitutions to have been approved by the Apostolic See (1955) as their starting point. A further complicating factor was the fact that the canonical commission and the project commissions represented the two juxtaposed outlooks of the Order; the former being composed generally of Europeans while the latter was led by canonists from the Americas. At the chapters of 2006 and 2008, the first project was largely reworked into a new text, which also incorporated the work of the canonical commission. This new draft was then amended and approved by the 2008 general chapter and was then presented to the Apostolic See for final approbation. For the first time in its history, the official text of the Basilian Constitutions is written in Italian as opposed to Latin. Official translations in Ukrainian, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian and Polish was also submitted for approval.  After examination by ecclesiastical consultants, what were to be definitive constitutions have again been approved only ad experimentum.
Although this article has described at length the various constitutions, these texts should not be equated with the reforms themselves; they are merely external and very partial reflections of the Basilian Order’s internal reality. If, in reading any given edition of the Basilians’ rules, we hope to find an accurate reflection of the Order’s lifestyle and mission, we will be dissapointed. To take only one example, the 1858 constitutions were very strict and very monastic but visitations revealed that the inidividual monks were leading decadent lifestyles and were entirely engaged by the bishops in parish work. Consistently, throughout its history, successful and lasting reforms of the Basilian Order have never emerged from the altering of their written rules. Instead, these rules were altered to conform to a shift in attitude, imparted by charismatic leaders such as Rustky, St. Josaphat, Jackowski and Welykyj. In contrast, Basilian zeal waned during periods when the Order was administered by pencil-pushers.

With vocations ever dwindling in the Americas, the future of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat lies in Europe, especially in Ukraine. The main questions that the Order needs to confront, and which will determine its fate, were already expressed by the Ukrainian hierarchy at the turn of the twentieth century. These are: What is the role of the Order in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church? What should be the Order's contribution to the religious life of our Church? What should be relationship of the Order’s churches to the eparchies? What human and spiritual qualities should be considered in choosing men as religious superiors? Should the Order reform its electoral system, allowing all the members an equal voice, to avoid the possibility of one caste perpetuating itself? How can the Order manage it’s wealth so as not to be managed by it? The final question which the Basilians need to address comes from the unfortunate reality of post-communist culture, but is also found in the decadence of the West, and that is: what is the Order’s attitude towards corruption in secular society and, where it occurs, even within its own ranks? This last issue will largely determine the place of the Basilians in the current life of the Ukrainian Church and also history's verdict as to its moral and spiritual contribution in the twenty-first century.
EVOLUTIO: On 14 July 2009, the Vatican office in charge of Latin-Rite religious communities issued instructions for the inspection of women's religous communities. The principal questions which each member of the community is called to answer are identical to those put forth in this post. Besides the fundamental questions about charism/identity and mission, the instruction clearly forsees the profession of additional vows (not merely promises), like the Basilian's (former?) vow of particular submission to the Roman Pontiff.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

In Memory of Father Isydor Patrylo, OSBM

(1919-2008)

Published in Progress Ukrainian Catholic News, no.21/2150 (16 November 2008), page 13. Also available on RISU.

On 27 October 2008, in the student monastery of Brukhovychi outside of Lviv, Father Isydor Ivan Patrylo, former general superior of the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, passed to his eternal reward. He was eighty-nine years old, had lived seventy-six years in religious life, and served sixty-six years in priestly ministry.

Born in Sudova Vyshnia, Lviv region, Ivan Patrylo was sent to the prestigious Basilian boys college in Buchach. In 1933, at the age of fourteen, he entered the Basilian Order at Krekhiv, taking the monastic name of Isydor. He made simple vows after only two years, but because of his youth was required to wait an additional six years before becoming eligible to profess solemn vows. Patrylo’s normal course of studies and religious formation was interrupted by the Russian invasion of Western Ukraine in 1939. He and several of his confrères were thus sent to complete their university courses at the Latin-rite seminary in Olomouc, Slovakia. However, in 1942 the Gestapo arrested the students and forced them to perform manual labour. The German occupiers did not recognize their monastic status, so Patrylo’s superiors decided to have him and his companions ordained to the priesthood. As there was no Eastern-Catholic bishop available, they were ordained priests by the local Latin-rite Bishop on 2 May 1943.

Despite their new status, the newly-ordained priests were still obliged to perform heavy work. In latter years, Father Isydor often reflected on his days of forced labour in Slovakia, recounting that the young priests were worked to exhaustion and often had to sleep standing up. Upon his release, the following year, Patrylo remembered having slept without interruption for thirty-six hours. Despite the difficult wartime conditions, in 1944, Patrylo was able to defend his first doctoral dissertation in Prague. For the next four years, he provided pastoral care for the deported Ukrainian workers in Germany and in England. Then, in 1948, his superiors sent him to the Ukrainian missions in Argentina. As the Basilian province in Western Ukraine had been suppressed by the Soviets, Patrylo, without a homeland or a religious province, acquired Argentinean citizenship and was assigned, on paper, to the American Basilian Province.

Father Isydor had the mind of a scholar and the eye for minute details. Thankfully, in 1952, his gifts were recognized by the Basilian general superior, the saintly scholar, Archimandrite Teodosi Haluschynsky, who called Patrylo to Rome to be his secretary. This marked the beginning of a fifty-year Roman sojourn at the Basilian General Curia. Two years later, he defended his second doctorate, in philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, and completed a third doctorate in 1961, this time in canon law, at the Pontifical Urban University. He returned to Argentina following the death of Haluschynsky, but was reappointed to the curia in 1955 as general bursar of the Order, and in 1962 he assumed the duties of general secretary.

Patrylo had been called to Rome because of his intellectual gifts and, indeed, his historical writings became his greatest contribution to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Over the years, he published numerous articles in the Basilian scholarly publication Analecta OSBM, of which he later became the director. Of particular note is his three-volume bibliography of books touching on the history of the Ukrainian Church. In addition, he published several significant articles on the history of the Basilian Order.

Isydor Patrylo’s second important contribution to the Church was his service as protoarchimandrite (general superior) of the Basilian Order. During the Second Vatican Council, another scholar, Father Athanasius Welykyj, had been elected as general superior. Welykyj was a charismatic figure, whose wide spiritual vision seemed the most appropriate for the new spirit of openness that emerged from the Council. However, Welykyj’s vision was not understood by many local superiors and his term of office was burdened with the effects of the postconciliar crisis in the priesthood. Due to a series of strokes, Welykyj became physically incapacitated and the General Chapter of 1976 elected longtime curialist, Father Patrylo, to assume the mantle of leadership. To be sure, this was considered a safe, conservative choice for difficult times.

Although he and Welykyj shared scholarly interests, in many ways, Patrylo’s character was the opposite of his predecessor. He was not a man of great vision but rather of small, intricate details and administration. His skills were useful for the period that followed the turbulent 1960’s, one where his Order needed consolidation and maintenance of the status quo. His frugal attitude and fundraising abilities helped the Order’s general curia through many financial challenges.

In 1963, the same year that Welykyj became protoarchimandrite, the primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Metropolitan (later Cardinal) Josyf Slipyj was released from the Soviet gulag and came to Rome. Although Father Welykyj had been the first to draw scholarly attention to the historical idea of a Ukrainian patriarchate, the strong personalities of both him and Slipyj soon gave rise to conflict between them. In contrast, Protoarchimandrite Patrylo’s diplomatic skills helped improve relations somewhat between the primate and the Order. Indicative of this was the fact that Slipyj would make sure that Patrylo was present at any great liturgical celebration over which he was presiding.

During the Council, Patrylo headed the commission responsible for publishing Father Ivan Khomenko's Ukrainian translation of the bible. Later, as Protoarchimandrite, he guided the publication of a practical Ukrainian language volume of the divine office, entitled Molytvoslov. This text was intended principally for the Order’s internal use but it was quickly adopted by other religious and secular clergy. To this day, this book, which contains a preface by Patrylo, remains a standard liturgical text for the entire Ukrainian Catholic Church.

The 1970s and 80s, quiet and declining years for the Basilians, were followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Order’s resurrection in the former communist countries. Beginning in 1990, most of the Basilians’ historical monasteries, which had been confiscated by the Soviet State in the 1940’s, were returned to the Order’s ownership. Once again, Patrylo proved to be the ideal man to deal with the new situation. The fact that he was a native of Western Ukraine and had lived the first decade of his religious life there, endowed him with a unique authority in the homeland. With this authority, he was able to curb the excessive zeal of some of the underground monks, and to bring them back into communal religious life. He took special care to reestablish the Order’s formation houses, in Mundare, Canada (1982) and Krekhiv, near Lviv (1991), to name just two.

As general bursar and later as general superior, Father Patrylo made several inspection visits to the Basilian communities throughout the world. During these trips, knowledge of several languages, including English, was greatly helpful to him. Notable visitations to Canada and the United States took place in 1957, 1959, 1967, 1977, 1987 and 1993. Not confining himself to Basilian monasteries, he also visited schools (Immaculate Heart of Mary in Winnipeg in 1977), and always participated in the prayers and devotions of the parishes, showing that a religious superior leads first-and-foremost by example.

Elected in 1976 and re-elected in 1988, Father Patrylo served two complete terms (a total of twenty years) as Basilian protoarchimandrite, the longest in the history of the Order. After stepping down in 1996, he showed his profound humility in behaving as an ordinary member of the monastic community. A rule had been passed that a retired protoarchimandrite could choose the community in which he wanted to live out his remaining years, except for the monastery in Rome. This latter exception was intended to free the new protoarchimandrite of any pressure from the former general superior. Nevertheless, because of Father Patrylo’s attitude of humble detachment from the affairs of his successor, and in view of his invaluable gifts, Protoarchimandrite (now Bishop) Dionysius Lachovicz made a special exemption to this rule, allowing Patrylo to remain in Rome. For an additional ten years, Father Isydor manifested himself as not merely a scholar but also a doer. While he was still able to coordinate Analecta OSBM, the journal remained active, but with his decline in health, the journal ceased publication.

Father Isydor’s last significant contributions were his participations in the Basilian general chapters of 2000 and 2004. During these meetings, he provided invaluable expertise and experience and proved to be a most important contributor. Above all, his sympathetic, moral presence was felt and appreciated by both young and old among the chapter participants. Unfortunately, Patrylo lost his sight in 2001 and was moved to the monastery in Brukhovychi in 2006. After sixty-plus years abroad, he had finally returned to live in his homeland. Father Isydor Patrylo’s death marks the end of an era and the passing of the last of the great Basilian historical scholars from Ukraine.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Prayers for the Head of State

In the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Liturgical Tradition

Published in Ukrainian in Патріярхат (2016) no. 1 (453), p. 15–17.

Canada is a monarchy where the Monarch often goes unnoticed. In the United Kingdom, however, it is impossible not to notice the monarchy, for even in the churches, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican and Protestants all pray for the Queen during their holy services. One exception appears to be the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Following the current translation in our liturgical books, we merely pray for “our nation under God, our civil authorities and all the armed forces.” In this article, I intend to provide a brief historical sketch about the prayers for the monarch in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, and discuss why the Ukrainian Church altered them in the last century and what could be done with them in future.

The prayers for the nation and the civil authorities in current-day Ukrainian liturgical services are a modern rewording of the traditional prayers for the head of state, based on the injunction of the Apostle Paul in his First Letter to Timothy:

I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men [...] for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (2:14)


Even today, some of our faithful remember when the prayers for the sovereign were still being said in the Liturgy. Until about 1970, Ukrainian Catholic services were prayed in Church Slavonic, a book language (not a vernacular) used by various Slavic peoples in the liturgical services. In the liturgical books used at the turn of the twentieth century, the prayer in the Great Ektene read as follows (in translation):

For our most faithful and God-protected Emperor (Francis Joseph), for all his palaces and armies, that the Lord would aide him in all things, hasten to grant him all his desires and place under his feet every enemy and adversary.


This form was used by Western Ukrainians (then referred to as Ruthenians) in their Galician homeland, when it was part of Austria-Hungary and was ruled by the Habsburg emperor. Previously, when under Russia, the Ruthenians had prayed for the tsar, and when under Poland they had prayed for the king. The monarch was also mentioned in other prayers, such as in the Ambonal Prayer and in the troparion to the Holy Cross:

Save Your people, O God, and bless Your inheritance. Grant victory to Your most faithful Emperor over his enemies and protect Your people by Your Cross.


The prayer for the monarch in the anaphora contained (and still contains) a direct citation from First Timothy:

Remember our most faithful Emperor (Francis Joseph) and all his palaces and armies. Grant him, O Lord, a peaceful reign, so that by his tranquility, “we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and purity.”


This prayer is itself a truncation of the older and much more beautiful form, full of quotations from the Old Testament books of Chronicles and the Psalms, found in the Liturgy of St. Basil:

Remember, O Lord, our most devout and faithful Emperor (Francis Joseph), whom you have set to rule on the earth. Crown him with a weapon of truth, a weapon of good will; let your shadow fall upon his head in the day of war; strengthen his arm, exalt his right-hand, establish his empire; subdue beneath him all barbarous nations that desire to make war; grant him deep and enduring peace; speak good things to his heart for your Church and for all your people; so that by his tranquility we may lead quiet and peaceful lives, in all piety and purity.


The reference to the barbarous nations reminds us that this prayer was first intended for the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor, whose duty it was to care for the earthly welfare of the Church. It is revealing (particularly in our day) to note that the monarch’s victory in battle was intended for the purpose of maintaining peace (Pax Romana) against those who fomented war.


The roots of the removal of references to the monarch in the Ukrainian Catholic Liturgy may be traced back to the political philosophies of national movements within multiethnic empires. These movements tended to be republican, since the fall of the ruling dynasties represented a vital step towards the political autonomy of the subject nations. So too, the Ukrainian movements were generally, though not exclusively, republican. Notable exceptions were found in Austrian Galicia, where Ruthenian notables envisioned the formation of an autonomous state within a confederation ruled by the Habsburg Monarch. Metropolitan Sheptytsky even proposed a plan for the creation of an (eastern) Ukrainian kingdom, ruled by a Habsburg prince. Also, in Eastern Ukraine, the monarchist Hetman regime was sustained by the German and Austrian Empires. However, the defeat and subsequent disintegration of the continental European monarchies, at the end of 1918, ended any practical hopes for any Ukrainian monarchy. At that point, Galician politicians and churchmen gave their full support to the creation of a Western Ukrainian Republic (1 November 1918), which brought about the first change to the prayer for the sovereign in the Greek-Catholic liturgies.

Further research is required to ascertain exactly when, in practice, the prayer for the emperor was changed. While still under Austrian rule, the Ukrainian Bishops Conference of 19 February 1918 censured demands by certain nationalists for the inclusion of a prayer for the president of the (eastern) Ukrainian Republic. Considering the pro-Habsburg sympathies of the hierarchy and general conservatism of the clergy, it is likely that some Greek-Catholic priests continued to say the prayer for their dethroned Emperor Karl, as found in the printed liturgical texts. Very quickly, though, if not immediately upon independence, the name of the monarch was replaced by the word nation: “o blahovirnim i bokhranymim narodi nashem / for our most faithful God-protected nation.”

This ostensibly auspicious, seamless textual substitution would not suffice after Eastern Galicia was annexed to the Polish Republic. The separatist feelings of the Ukrainian population induced the Polish Government to be all the more insistent that the Greek-Catholic clergy pray for the Polish head of state. What appears to be a compromise solution was achieved. An ambiguous addition to the prayer made it possible to pray for the nation (Ukrainian?) and the state without specifically mentioning Poland or its president. The new wording, which is still basically in use today, began to appear in printed prayer books: “For our most faithful and God-protected nation, the government and all the armed forces.” (later versions omitted the morally descriptive blahovirnyj [most faithful]). Ukrainians who had already emigrated to the Dominions of the British Empire continued to use the old text of the prayer, substituting the word emperor for king.

The first official change in the liturgical texts, in the twentieth century, occurred at the end of the 1920’s with the publication of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky’s revised liturgikon (missal) and trebnyk (ritual). In these books, the prayer for the monarch was replaced by the prayer for the nation and government, which had been in in use within the Polish Republic. These new editions represented an attempt by Sheptytsky to remove the major Latinizations from the liturgical texts and rubrics. These new books, however, were generally rejected by the other Greek-Catholic bishops, who did not share Sheptytsky’s views on liturgical reform, and the old editions printed at the turn of the century remained in use outside of Sheptytsky’s Archeparchy of Lviv. Since the Ukrainian bishops could not agree on liturgical reform, they ceded responsibility for revising their liturgical books to the Apostolic See.

It was in the 1930’s, then, that a commission for the revision of the Slavonic liturgical texts was formed under the auspices of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church (subsequently renamed the Congregation for the Oriental Churches). The brainchild of this project was a Frenchman turned Byzantine-rite priest, Cyrille Korolevskij. This eccentric scholar was a friend of several illustrious church leaders, including Metropolitan Sheptytsky, Cardinal Tisserant (the head of the Oriental Congregation), and Pope Pius XI himself, under whom Korolevskij had worked when the Pope (then Monsignor Achille Ratti) was prefect of the Vatican Library. The commission produced two sets of liturgical books, one for the Churches following the Ruthenian Edition, and the so-called Typical Edition for those following the Russian texts and rubrics. The first book in the series was the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which was released in 1940, followed by the complete liturgikon the following year.

The Roman editions were given full approval, promulgated on the authority of the Roman Pontiff and made mandatory on all the Slavic Eastern Catholic Churches. However, despite the high quality of the research and redaction, these editions contained several controversial points. Among these was the large number of changes in the rubrics, which were restored to their sixteenth-century forms, mercilessly eliminating any Greek or Slavic accretions. In addition, some of the terminology used in the Ruthenian Edition appeared to betray the Russophile proclivities of both Korolevskij and Tisserant. For instance, in the Cherubic Hymn, the Ruthenian-slavonic pechal’ was replaced with the Russian variant popechennije (let us now lay aside all earthly cares). The greatest changes appeared in the 1947 trebnyk, with its completely restructured order of the celebration of the Sacraments. Notably, besides linguistic and ceremonial restoration, the Roman editions also restored the prayers for the monarch to their ancient form, introducing, however, the option of commemorating an emperor, a king or simply the civil authorities. Notably, the beautiful prayer in the anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil was retained, word for word.

The return to extremely conservative texts, in this instance, is interesting, especially since no Eastern Catholics were then living under the rule of a reigning emperor (perhaps there were some in Japan or India?). The inclusion of the emperor might represent the commission taking into account the possibility of a Habsburg restoration, which was much hoped for in certain European church and democratic circles of the period. On the other hand, it could simply be the result of Liturgical conservatism. Indeed, the prayer for the emperor was not removed from the Latin Rite liturgical books until the 1955 reform of the Holy Week.

Both the textual and rubrical alterations of the Roman Slavonic liturgical books made these editions difficult to accept for a significant number of the Latinized Ukrainian Catholic clergy. Foremost among the opponents of the new version was the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, which defiantly reprinted and continued to use the old books. Despite efforts to enforce the use of the new books (even by canonical sanctions), in practice earlier editions continued to be used by many of the clergy, even well beyond the introduction of the vernacular editions. Even after the issuing of the Roman edition of the Slavonic arkhieratykon (pontifical) in 1973, some bishops continued to use the late-nineteenth-century Lviv edition well into the 1990’s; for example, Cardinal Lubachivsky. And even today, English translations of the Baptism and Marriage services not based on the Roman orders of service are widely used in Canada.

The decrees of the Second Vatican Council permitted the introduction of the Ukrainian vernacular into Ukrainian Catholic Church services (the Orthodox had introduced modern Ukrainian in 1917). At first, this was done piecemeal, especially through the printed of Liturgy books for the faithful. In 1968, the first all-Ukrainian liturgikon/sluzhebnyk was issued with the text of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Faithful to the official Roman Slavonic edition, the vernacular sluzhebnyk did make some small alternations in the text, including the return to the Ruthenian term pechal’ in the Cherubic hymn (no modern vernacular equivalent was deemed acceptable) and to the prayer for the narod as in the 1920’s books, omitting the option to pray for a monarch. Following upon other vernacular versions of the Liturgy of St. Basil, the 1980 Ukrainian edition totally revised the ancient prayer for the emperor, truncating it and jettisoning the beautiful scriptural verses which had hitherto been applied to the sovereign.

Replacing the monarch in the liturgical texts posed certain problems. For example, the first translations of the troparia to the Cross replaced the person of the sovereign with the Church, creating a rather ultramontane image of the Church Militant:

Save Your people, O God, and bless Your inheritance. Grant victory to Your Church over its enemies and protect Your people by your Cross.


Subsequent Ukrainian editions of these troparia returned to praying for the narod, and English translations followed suit: “grant victory to Your people”. In the Chrysostom anaphora, nation replaced monarch but the phrase “Grant them, O Lord, a peaceful reign” (myrne tsarstvo) was retained but now applied to the nation, the government and the armed forces. Actually, reign and rule (or govern) are not the same thing. The Queen, for instance, reigns but does not rule; the government, on the other hand, can be said to rule but certainly does not reign. The official English translation, however, rendered-away the “offensive” term:

Remember, O Lord, our nation under God, our government and all the military. Grant them a peaceful government, so that in their tranquility, we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in all piety and dignity.


Another problem in replacing the head of state with the nation is that it can obscure the meaning of the prayer, as in Ukrainian versions of the Liturgy of St. Basil:

Remember, O Lord, our God-protected nation, the government and all the military. Grant them deep and enduring peace; incline their hearts with consideration for your Church and all your people; so that in their tranquility we may lead quiet and peaceful lives, in all piety and purity.

How can the nation incline its’ heart with consideration for the people who constitute it (except according to certain nation-worshiping philosophies)? Here, the restoration of the head of state, followed the by government and military, would solve the problem.

In the next part of the prayer, the Ukrainian editions have left untouched the sentence: “for our brothers in the palace”. However, English translations were changed to read: “for those in the service of our country”. Presumably, a presidential palace or parliament (the British Houses of Parliament are the Palace of Westminster) would be excluded by the original term, considered perhaps too reminiscent of the imperial and royal courts.

The partial rejection of the Ukrainian Synod’s 1988 liturgikon and 1991 arkhieratykon can be compared to the reluctant reception of the Roman editions, albeit for entirely different motivations: the synodal texts were rejected principally due to the patriarchal movement’s veneration for the texts issued by Cardinal Slipyj, and also because they had printed numerous prayer books using Slipyj’s translation, in which the term Major-Archbishop was substituted with Patriarch. With the founding of numerous printing presses in Ukraine, a host of unofficial, revised translations of the liturgical books have already appeared.

As the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Synod prepares to re-issue standardized, official liturgical translations, the responsible commission needs to decide how to treat the prayer for the head of state. I suggest that it restores the older texts of prayers for the monarch, including however, as did the Roman editions, the option to pray for the head of state and civil authorities. Some of the reasons to do so would be:

The prayers for the emperor/king date back to the Roman/Byzantine Empire. The version in the Anaphora of St. Basil is in keeping with the rhetorical beauty of that Liturgy, which should not be cheapened by commonplace translations or redactions. After all, if we are looking for a shortened version, that’s what the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is all about.

The authority and responsibility to rule, whether in the temporal or spiritual realms, lies in the person who holds the office. This is the reason why we pray for the Pope and other members of the Chrurch hierarchy by name. The same was and should be true for earthly rulers, especially the head of state. Historical Ukrainian Orthodox liturgikons remembered princes, hetmans and other rulers of the past, in the prayer of the Great Entrance.

The Ukrainian Catholic faithful are present in many countries which have a monarch as their head of state, such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Japan, many Middle-Eastern countries, the Scandinavian kingdoms, and the United Kingdom. Even when the country is a republic, it is appropriate to pray specifically and separately for the head of state, such as the President of the United States, of Italy, of Ukraine, or of Russia, who often play a delicate role, distinct from that of the government. The present-day Ukrainian political system provides a perfect example of this distinction. In the United States, the powers of the president are considerable and his person is held in great veneration, almost comparable with that of an elected monarch. Praying separately for the head of state (emperor/king/president), can also act as a counterbalance to exaggerated nationalism and nation-worship, a sentiment at least partially responsible for inserting narod in the post-1918 Ukrainian redactions.

The restoration of the head of state to these prayers, followed by the government and armed forces, would solve the various grammatical and conceptual problems outlined above.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The Last King of Western Ukraine

Blessed Karl of Habsburg-Lorraine, Emperor and King

Published in the All Saintstide 2008 issue of Chrysostom, Newsletter of the Society of St. John Chrysostom.

The first Ukrainian immigrants to North America came from what used to be called Galicia (Ukrainians call it Halychyna), which today is Western Ukraine. Indeed, until November 1918, Galicia was part of Austria-Hungary, an empire ruled by the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. Its last ruler was Karl Franz Josef Ludwig Hubert Georg Maria, Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and Lodomeria, Illyria, King of Jerusalem etc. This is a brief history of Kasier (Emperor) Karl’s dynasty, it’s Catholic values and its connection to Ukraine.

Karl was a member of the Habsburg family, which had ruled the Holy Roman Empire (the name for Germany in the Middle Ages) and much of Europe for seven hundred years. Arguably the greatest European royal house, at one time or another, Habsburgs ruled in today’s Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, parts of Italy, Romania, Poland and Ukraine, most of Central and South America and even the Philippines (named after Habsburg King Philip II of Spain). Understandably, the Habsburg motto was “the world is not enough.” Emperor Charles (Karl) VI’s daughter and heir, Maria Theresa, married the Duke of Lorraine, prompting a change in the family name to Habsburg-Lorraine.

Besides being the first female Habsburg monarch, Maria Theresa was also significant in Ukrainian history as the first of her dynasty to rule Ukrainians. Until the eighteenth century, Right-bank Ukraine was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but in 1772, Russia and Prussia decided to divide this state and offered a portion to Maria Theresa. In those days, one country could not simply conquer another without a dynastic claim to provide some legality. Maria Theresa’s ministers satisfied this requirement by creating the fairytale Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, which harkened back to the ancient principalities of Halych and Volodymyr. Galicia contained a mixed population of mainly Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians (known then as Ruthenians); its capital was Lemberg, which is known today as Lviv.

Habsburg rule met in greatest challenges during the nineteenth century, otherwise known as the age of nationalism. At the turn of that century, Napoleon, wanting to be the sole emperor in Europe, dissolved the Holy Roman Empire. Cleverly, the Habsburg ruler of the time, Franz II, reinvented his imperial title, becoming Franz I, Emperor of Austria. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars had awakened the various ethnic groups to the notion of belonging to their own separate nation (called national consciousness). As multi-ethnic empire, Austria was plagued with the problem of conflicting national aspirations of its component peoples, among which were the Galician Ukrainians.

The most famous modern Habsburg was undoubtedly Franz Josef I, who came to the throne at the young age of eighteen, in 1848, and ruled for sixty-eight years. Most of our Ukrainian ancestors’ passports to the Americas were issued in his name. Franz Josef was unlucky in war and sought a policy of compromises with the empire’s political and ethnic groups, the most significant being the division of his realms into Austria-Hungary in 1867. He was also unfortunate in his family: his only son, Crown Prince Rudolph, committed suicide in 1889; his wife Empress Elizabeth was assassinated in 1898; and his nephew and second heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in 1914. Eventually, when the eighty-six year-old emperor died in 1916, he was succeeded by his twenty-nine-year-old great-nephew, Karl. At the time of Karl’s birth, in 1887, the possibility of him succeeding to the throne was remote. There were three others ahead of him in the line of succession, in addition to any of their future children. The untimely deaths of two uncles and his own father brought Karl to the throne.

Archduke Karl had been brought up to be deeply religious. In 1907, he chose as his wife someone who shared his Catholic outlook on life: Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma. Karl held modern views on the nationalities question and believed that, in order to best serve its people, his empire would have to become a confederation of autonomous nations linked by the Habsburg emperor as their common sovereign. He also looked favorably on Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky’s project to free eastern Ukraine from Russian domination and making a Habsburg prince its king. The main candidate for the Ukrainian throne was Karl’s distant cousin, Archduke Wilhelm, nicknamed Vasyl Vyshyvany for his embroidered Ukrainian shirts. Vyshyvany learned the Ukrainian language and led an Austro-Ukrainian corps, the Sichovi Striltsi, during the First World War.

Karl had become emperor-king two years into the war and made every effort to end the conflict. He attempted to broker a reasonable peace, even if it meant giving away some of the empire’s territory. German military leaders, however, refused to compromise. In the last month of his reign, Karl was able to enact a reform that made his empire into a federation. Nevertheless, the victorious allied powers encouraged its component nationalities to break away from Austria. Germany and Austria-Hungary surrendered on 11 November 1918, and Kaiser Karl was forced from power. He refused to formally abdicate his sacred trust and later attempted to regain his throne in Hungary, where he was still formally recognized as king. As a result, the allies exiled him and his family to Portugal where, traumatized and impoverished, he died a saintly death in 1922, at the age of thirty-five.

Dethroning the dynasty did not resolve the ethnic conflicts in former Habsburg realms. Poles and Ukrainians bitterly fought for control over Galicia, where Archduke Vasyl Vyshyvany was instrumental in furnishing military assistance to the short-lived Western Ukrainian Republic. By June 1919, however, the stronger Polish army had defeated the Ukrainian forces. After attempting in vain to obtain concessions for the Ukrainian population, in 1923, the League of Nations formally recognized the sovereignty of the Polish Republic over Eastern Galicia. Galician Ukrainians continued to fight for equal civil rights under Polish, Nazi, and finally under Soviet rule.

The Allies had forbidden the Habsburgs to reign in any of their former domains. Indeed, the the absence of a moderate monarchy in many these countries paved the way for the rule of dictatorships. In the face of Nazi and Communist aggression, Emperor Karl’s son, Crown Prince Otto, came very close to being invited to become head of state in both Austria and Hungary. For his opposition to totalitarianism, he was sentenced to death by his dynasty’s former subject, Adolph Hitler. Archduke Wilhelm Vyshyvany also opposed Hitler and Stalin. As a result, he died in Soviet prison in 1948. Remarkably, Vyshyvany replied to his interrogators in Ukrainian. More fortunate was the crown prince, who escaped his cousin’s fate. Today, at the age of ninety-five, Otto von Habsburg continues to promote the Catholic values of his family in the political forum. For example, both he and his son Karl have served as members of the European parliament. Also, in various interviews, Otto has reflected on the importance of Ukraine in Europe’s future and continues to warn of the emerging totalitarianism in Russia.

The House of Habsburg’s commitment to humanity was formally recognized by the Catholic Church in 2004 with the beatification of “Karl of Habsburg, Emperor and King”. Pope John-Paul referred to him as “a model for Christian statesmen of today.” The emperor’s four living sons and many of his descendants and relatives attended the ceremonies, together with representatives of the various nations he once ruled. Giving thanks to the Lord for Karl’s example of Christian leadership, the thousands present also paid homage to Christ’s Vicar-on-earth, the Pope, whose own father came from Austrian Galicia and who had served in the Habsburg armies. At the time of Pope John-Paul’s death, some news reports claimed that Karol Wojtyla’s parents had named him after Karl, their last emperor-king.

Боже буди покровитель / Цїсарю Єго краям,
крїпкий вірою правитель / мудро най проводить нам,
прадїдну Єго корону / борони від ворога,
тїсно із Габсбургів троном / сплелась Австрії судьба!

-Imperial Hymn in Old Ukrainian

Friday, 26 September 2008

The Greek Deacon of the Papal Rite of Mass

in Progress Ukrainian Catholic News, n. 15/2167 (23 August 2009), p. 14.

A Russian version of this article is available at unavoce.ru

Today, few people are aware of the fact that the Pope has his own particular Mass ritual. Special ceremonies and liturgical customs are present at solemn papal liturgies which are not found in the ordinary rites of the Roman Church. The reason for these special ceremonies lies in the identity of the Bishop of Rome himself: besides being the principal hierarch of the Latin Church (thus, until recently bearing the title Patriarch of the West), the Pope is the Father and Head of the Universal Church. Symbolic of this universal headship is the presence at solemn papal functions of the Greek deacon.
As Bishop of Rome, the Pope follows the rites of the Roman Church. However, until 1969, at the most solemn feasts of Christmas and Easter, the papal mass followed a unique, codified ritual, which included ceremonies performed by specific functionaries of the Papal Court and the Roman Curia. For instance, the Pope was assisted not merely by ordinary ministers but also by his closest collaborators, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, as they are officially entitled. The senior cardinal-bishop functioned as the principal assistant-priest, one cardinal-deacon ministered as the deacon of the Mass and two others as deacons of honour. In addition, a curial priest served as the Apostolic Subdeacon, so entitled by way of the fact that the See of Rome is entitled the Apostolic See because of the succession of its bishops from the Apostles Peter and Paul.
Another unique feature of this special papal ritual was the participation of Oriental clergy: in addition to the Cardinal and Apostolic Deacons and Subdeacons, the ceremonial prescribed two Byzantine-rite clerics, entitled the Greek Deacon and the Greek Subdeacon. These deacons were taken from the Greek College (Ukrainian Isidore Dolnytsky was Pius IX’s favourite) or from the Italian Byzantine-rite monastery of Grottaferrata, near Tivoli. This monastic community is not “uniate” per se, because it has always been in union with the Pope of Rome. The principal liturgical function of the Greek Deacon and Subdeacon was to sing the epistle and gospel in Greek after they had been sung in Latin by the Apostolic deacons. At the conclusion of the epistles, both subdeacons kissed the feet of the Pope, and after the singing of the gospels, the Pope kissed both Latin and Greek texts.
In addition to the ministration of the Greek deacons, the Pope himself maintained certain vestments and sacred vessels which perhaps, at one time, were common in the East and West. Over his right hip he wore a subcinctorium, which resembles a Byzantine prelate’s epigonation. The Eucharistic bread was also covered by an asterisk; a safeguard in the form of a star, which is placed over the Eucharistic bread at every Byzantine Eucharistic Liturgy. In addition, in common with the old Byzantine custom, the papal liturgies preserved the ancient usage of only two liturgical colours. Red and white were the colours of Roman senators and imperial court officials, and the Bishop of Rome was granted these colours in his personal vesture as an insignia of his rank. While the Pope now dresses almost exclusively in white, pieces of his vesture are still red, typically his outer garments such as his hat, shoes, cloak and his mozzetta. When the civic capital of the Roman Empire moved to Byzantium (renamed Constantinople) the Byzantine rite maintained this pristine Roman colour scheme, as did the Pope of Old Rome, who continued to wear white liturgical vestments for joyous celebrations and red vestments for penitential occasions and for commemorations of the martyrs.
Some argue that the presence of the Greek deacons goes back to a time when the Byzantine Rite was still commonly celebrated in Rome. However, their presence at this solemn courtly rite is likely a medieval innovation designed to illustrate the ecclesiological understanding of the Pope’s role as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Indeed, recent scholarly research (of the late Father Franck Quoëx) has shown that as each and every ritual of the Solemn Papal Mass was carefully and hierarchically choreographed for such a purpose. For instance, during the first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, the Pope pontificated from a great throne, surrounded by the Curia and Court. During the second, Eucharistic part of the Liturgy, however, he divested himself of some of these symbols, thereby assuming the role of an ordinary bishop.
During the reforms of the Roman Rite following the Second Vatican Council, the solemn papal mass was abolished but some of its unique elements were retained in papal ceremonies. The custom which has received the most attention occurs at the funeral of the Pope himself, where, as a remnant of the ancient practice, the dead Pope continues to be vested in red, his traditional mourning colour. However, because the dual colour scheme has been abandoned, confusion has ensued as to who is to wear papal mourning. Traditionally, the Pope did not celebrate funerals but only presided from the throne. He alone mourned in red (Papa luget in rubra), while the celebrant of the Mass and sacred ministers wore black or purple. Benedict XVI has partially restored some of these ancient customs: for the funerals of cardinals, he has returned to presiding from the throne and administering the absolution, vested red papal mourning; also, the asterix has recently been used to cover the Sacred Species.
Throughout the reign of John Paul II, the Greek deacon began to appear more frequently at solemn papal masses but was not longer taken exclusively from among the a monk of Grottaferrata Abbey. Sometimes he was Greek, other times Russian, Ruthenian or Ukrainian etc. and he proclaimed the gospel in the liturgical language of his own Particular Church. Any signs of inequality between the Latin and Greek ministers were been suppressed. Due to the universal and superior mission of the head of the Roman Church, subsequent to the Council of Trent, the Roman Church began to consider its rite as being superior to other rites. Such a theological trend used to be reflected in the old papal liturgy during which the Latin deacon was accompanied by seven candle bearers whereas the Greek deacon was flanked only by two. Also, only the Latin deacon carried the gospel book and the Greek ministers sat farther away from the papal throne. These distinctions were not carried over into contemporary papal ceremony, in accordance with the solemn decree of Vatican II on the equal dignity of all rites. Today, both Latin and Byzantine deacons carry gospel books in procession and both are flanked by an equal number of candles. There have even been occasions where the Byzantine Deacon took precedence. An historical example happened at the opening of the Synod for Europe in 1999, when the Byzantine deacon alone proclaimed the Gospel in the Old Church Slavonic language (the common liturgical language of the Slavic Churches). Pope Benedict XVI has returned to the custom of a Greek deacon for his Christmas and Easter Masses. However, he also sanctioned the greatest and most controversial innovation of all: a Greek Orthodox deacon proclaimed the gospel at a Papal Mass where the Patriarch of Constantinople assisted at the Liturgy of the Word.
Despite examples of his presence at notable papal liturgies, the role of the Greek Deacon has been left relitively undefined since 1969. At each celebration, he has been instructed to do different things because no one was certain as to what his role should be, other than singing the gospel. In order to help solve this conundrum, several key questions need to be answered: For example, what liturgical postures were prescribed (or assumed) by the Greek ministers at papal masses prior to and following the 1969 reforms and why? And further, what role should the Greek Deacon play in the procession or the incensing at the current liturgy? Traditionally, the presence of Greek ministers at papal mass has emphasized the universal mission of the Pope but how can the Greek Deacon’s role be defined today, in accordance with ecumenical considerations and a current understanding of the role of the Roman Pontiff vis-à-vis the Eastern Catholic Churches and even the Orthodox Churches? Answers to these questions will emerge from further historical-liturgical study of the ceremonies of the papal rites. Such research will undoubtedly reveal the reasons for the Greek Deacon’s continued presence at these rites and lend to the dignity required in celebrating one of the principal Christian sacramental rituals.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Reluctant-to-Accept and the Reluctantly-Accepted Bishop


Count Andrei Roman Alexander Maria Sheptytsky
Published in Progress Ukrainian Catholic News, no.15/2144 (24 August 2008), pages 6, 10, and 11.

Of the many Ukrainian national and religious leaders of the twentieth century, a name stands out as representing a universal father-figure. His name was reviled during the Soviet period not only because of its Catholic overtones but also because it had become synonymous with the defense of the persecuted Ukrainian identity. This name is Andrei Sheptytsky, Metropolitan of Halych, Archbishop of Lviv, Bishop of Kamianets-Podilsk, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and extraordinary Apostolic Exarch for the Eastern-Catholic Church in Russia. Surprisingly, however, during the early days of his career, Sheptytsky was not regarded very positively by Ukrainians. This article reveals key events in the hitherto untold story of how a young Polish aristocrat became a Ukrainian monastic priest, reluctantly accepted the burden of the episcopacy and was reluctantly accepted by the political leaders of his flock as their spiritual father.

The future Kyr Andrei entered the world as Count Roman Alexander Maria Szeptycki (Polish spelling). His father’s lineage was an ancient Ruthenian (as Ukrainians were once called) noble line which had adopted the Latin Rite and become Polish. Roman was born in 1865 at Przylbice (Prybylchi) in the Kingdom of Galicia, a portion of Poland which had been partitioned to Austria in 1772. At the time of his birth, the Austrian empire was rife with political tensions between its component nationalities. The following year (1866) saw a crucial military defeat for Austria, which hastened a radical, internal state reform along national lines. A year later, in 1867, the emperor divided the government of his realms, creating the dual-monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Two additional consequences of this compromise were the granting of parliamentary ministerial government and the handing-over of political power in Galicia to the Polish aristocracy. These two decisions would come to have a major effect on the process of choosing future leaders for the Greek-Catholic Church.
Virtually all of the Ruthenian nobility had adopted the Latin Rite to secure a political and social position. This left the clergy as the nation’s leaders and foremost among them was the metropolitan of Halych, who had inherited the Greek-Catholic primacy when, in 1807, Pope Pius VII transferred it from Kyiv (under Russian domination) to Lviv. The metropolitan commanded great political authority among the Ruthenians and promoted a policy of absolute loyalty to the ruling Habsburg dynasty in exchange for political concessions. However, by the 1860’s, the Ruthenians were developing their own educated laity and political class. By handing political power to the Poles in 1867, Austria had dealt a severe blow to the authority of the Greek-Catholic hierarchy. Believing that their nation had been sacrificed by Austria, Ruthenian leaders began to look towards Russia for political and spiritual fulfillment. This movement became known as Russophilism and it represented a serious threat to Austrian rule and to the Catholic Church in Galicia.

In the 1880’s, the Apostolic See of Rome had also turned its gaze towards Russia. The Vatican shared Austria’s fear that this aggressive Orthodox empire (and its international arm of pan-slavism) would continue to severely persecute any Catholics who fell under its rule. Nonetheless, Pope Leo XIII took a positive approach to the issue by seeking to improve diplomatic relations with the Tsarist regime. This new openness accorded with the optimism that was being expressed by Russian thinkers such as Vladimir Solovëv, who began to look positively towards Rome as the centre of Christian unity.


Pope Leo’s vision was far from Austrian political concerns. In Galicia, spiritual Russophilism within the Greek-Catholic Church seeped over into political Russophilism in Ruthenian society. The Austrian government admonished the Greek-Catholic hierarchy to curtail the movement, but throughout the 1870’s Russophile clergy succeeded in occupying the chief administrative posts of the eparchial consistories. In the early 1880’s, certain radical Russophile leaders openly declared their Russian sympathies and one parish even attempted to break with the Catholic Church (hitherto, there had not been a single Orthodox church in Galicia). The Austrian government reacted by sentencing the ringleaders and calling for the removal of Metropolitan Josyf Sembratovych, together with leading clergy. After years of delaying, it also agreed to subdivide the enormous archeparchy of Lviv by creating a second eparchy of Stanislaviv. In doing so, it hoped to lessen the authority of the Russophiles who held sway in Lviv. As a final measure, Austria sanctioned the Galician Jesuits reform of the Basilian Order, the only Ruthenian religious order then in existence.
There remained the problem of a shortage of acceptable episcopal candidates. The government was looking for bishops who would be both loyal and capable administrators. For the sake of the public peace, it sought candidates who would be acceptable to the Ruthenians and, at the same time, not antagonistic towards the Poles. The Apostolic See, meanwhile, was looking for zealous reformers who would not only decrease the influence of Russophilism but also strengthen the Church’s bonds with Rome. Looking beyond the backwater of Austrian-Galicia, Rome viewed the Ruthenian Church as an ideal base from which to spearhead a mission to Russia and the Orthodox world.


One of the major limitations concerning candidates was the lack of unmarried Ruthenian clergy. From the Union of Brest (1596) until the end of the eighteenth century, only Basilian monks were eligible to become Uniate bishops. While Austrian reforms generally strengthened clerical and educational institutions, they weakened monastic communities, thus leading to in a period of decadence among the Basilians which resulted in a lack of suitable candidates from their ranks. However, by the 1870’s, choosing Basilian bishops was again becoming a necessity, for Rome began rejecting all widowers, further narrowing the list of eligible secular priests. In 1891, the Greek-Catholic Synod of Lviv followed up by incorporating the exclusion of widowers into its own particular church law.
Enter Roman Sheptytsky who, socially speaking, had the world at his feet but having been brought-up in a very pious familial setting, it is not surprising that he gravitated toward a religious vocation. In this decision, he was much influenced by one of his mother’s spiritual advisors, Father Henryk Jackowski, Provincial of the Galician Jesuits. Jackowski also happened to be a protagonist in Pope Leo’s plan for the Greek-Catholic Church in Russia and the Basilian reform. Accordingly, the young count decided take part in Jackowski’s project-in-the making and join the Ruthenian Basilians, even though he had been brought up in the Latin Rite. His family initially expressed opposition but later acquiesced when they became convinced, with Jackowski’s help no doubt, that the new Basilians were destined to be of better spiritual calibre than the Greek-Catholic secular clergy.
Entering the Basilians in 1888, Sheptytsky took the monastic name of Andrei. Quite independent of his superior upbringing, the young monk’s spiritual and intellectual qualities were quickly noticed by his superiors. Ever watchful of his progress, Jackowski continued to entrust Father Andrei with key positions in the reformed order. Soon after his priestly ordination, in 1892, Sheptytsky was the first reformed Basilian to be appointed to the crucially important position of novice master. Four years later, he became the first reformed superior of St. Onufri monastery in Galicia’s capital city of Lviv. By all accounts, the young levite was entirely focused on the religious life, free of any desire for greater leadership outside of his religious community.
Such a naturally and spiritually gifted individual could not go unnoticed by religious and civil authorities, especially in view of the lack of celibate episcopal candidates. Besides his personal qualities, Father Sheptytsky fulfilled all Rome’s prerequisites: not only was he unmarried but he was prayerful, zealous and a convinced follower of Pope Leo XIII’s policy of respect for the traditions of the Eastern Churches and openness to Russia. In addition, he was not antagonistic to either the Latin Church or Polish society, in which he had been educated. Such qualities endeared him to a fellow Polish nobleman who was the head of the Vatican department in charge both of worldwide missions and also the Eastern Catholics. This man was Cardinal Mieczyzlaw Ledóchowski, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide.


1. Candidate for Przemysl, Lviv and Stanislaviv
Archival sources show that, only four years following his priestly ordination, in 1896, Sheptytsky was already being considered to replace the recently deceased bishop of Przemysl (Peremyshl). This nomination was premature and his Jesuit superiors begged Cardinal Ledóchowski to pass over the candidacy for the time-being, considering the vital role this young monk was playing in the delicate beginnings of the Basilian reform. In the end, the primate, Cardinal Sylvester Sembratovych (nephew of ex-metropolitan Josyf) proposed Canon Konstantyn Chekhovych, having omitted to mention that he was a widower. Two years later, Sembratovych himself was on his deathbed and asked for a coadjutor-bishop, again presenting one of his widower canons. This time in the know, Propaganda Fide replied that it was impossible to exempt from the laws of the Synod of Lviv (which they had worked for so many years to achieve). In the meantime, Cardinal Sylvester died before being able to present an alternative candidate.
Obtaining a successor was not a simple matter for the nomination process had become very complicated. First of all, since the Union of Brest, the Greek-Catholic primate held the privilege of nominating his suffragen bishops, not by right but in the name of the Apostolic See. The metropolitans of Halych partly inherited this privilege by being able to present three candidates to be vetted by Propaganda Fide and the papal secretariat of state. However, the Holy Roman (Austrian from 1804) emperor also held the personal privilege of presenting episcopal candidates within his realms. With the introduction of ministerial government, candidates had also to be approved by the foreign ministry and the ministry of religion. In Galicia, the local viceroy also had to be consulted. The Apostolic See was not happy with government intrusion and the nuncio reminded the emperor that the privilege of presentation was accorded to him alone, not to his ministers. In addition, the liberal ministries of the 1870’s sought confrontation with the Vatican, initiating an ever-growing conflict over episcopal appointments. This situation made it exceedingly difficult to find a candidate who was simultaneously acceptable to the Apostolic See, to Ruthenians, Poles and to all levels of government.
By 1897, Father Andrei Sheptytsky was the favoured candidate in both Vienna and Rome but not in Galicia. Ruthenian political leaders were extremely wary of Polish manipulation of their most important national institution, their Church. They had reacted strongly against the Jesuit reform of the Basilians and had been further alienated by Cardinal Sembratovych’s attempts at détente with the Polish Galician rulers (known as the New Era). The Ruthenian press had predicted that Sheptytsky’s entry into the Basilians was an attempt by the Poles to control their church from the inside. Sembratovych himself had explicitly excluded the young Basilian as his successor but for just the opposite reason; he feared that Sheptytsky would show inordinate zeal on behalf of the Ruthenians, thus upsetting the political balance that he had worked to establish.

With the cardinal primate’s death, the responsibility for the nomination passed to Emperor Franz Josef, a devout Catholic who attempted to mitigate conflicts with the Church. Already at the end of the previous year, His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty had heard favorable reports of Sheptytsky, no doubt from his Polish-Galician ministers (although Sheptytsky’s biographer, Cyrile Korolevskij, erroneously assumed that “his name was not known in Vienna”), and promised the nuncio that he would favour the candidacy. But when the nuncio suggested Sheptytsky to the government, Galician leaders once again urged caution. This time it was the viceroy, Count Leon Pininski, who repeated the same objections as the late Cardinal Sembratovych. He also suggested that, at thirty-three, two years shy of the canonical age, Sheptytsky was too young and inexperienced to become metropolitan-archbishop directly. Pininski proposed that the older and more experienced Bishop Chekhovych be transferred to Lviv and that Sheptytsky be made bishop of Przemysl. Propaganda Fide rejected the proposal outright for two reasons: firstly, Chekhovych was a widower, a state that was unsuitable for Greek-Catholic primate; secondly, Chekovych was held to be weak, and the Holy See reminded the government about the problems created by the last metropolitan who had been soft on Russophilism. In any case, Cardinal Ledóchowski had always favoured Sheptytsky and he continued to press for his candidacy.
The government then proposed promoting the aged Bishop Julian Sas-Kuilovsky of Stanislaviv and assigning him a Basilian auxiliary-bishop, who would begin to combat Russophilism by assuming the direction of the Lviv seminary. Sheptytsky was then to replace Kuilovsky in the small Stanislaviv diocese, in order to gain experience. This plan was acceptable to all concerned except Father Andrei, who had no such ambitions. He had already refused the nomination to Przemysl, two years previously, and was uncomfortable with the pressure that the government was exerting. In a desperate attempt to resist, Sheptytsky wrote three letters to the Apostolic See refusing the episcopacy, claiming that he was “unworthy” of the honor. The Jesuits, however, had grafted two special vows onto the Basilian constitutions: the first to spurn promotions and the second of particular obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff. With the second vow in view, Sheptytsky had to include the proviso that he would only accept if ordered to by the Pope and such was indeed the will of Leo XIII and his minister, Cardinal Ledóchowski, who had been cherishing such hopes for several years. Sheptytsky’s refusal had also been prompted by his apprehension of the desperate moral state of Stanislaviv’s population, especially the clergy, imbued with Russophile tendencies. Thus, he made his acceptance of the imperial nomination conditional upon the government fulfilling its long-delayed promise of constructing a seminary for that diocese.
Having received the go-ahead from the nunciature, on 1 February 1899, Emperor Franz Josef simultaneously presented the names of Bishop Julian of the knights Sas-Kuilovsky and Andrei Count Sheptytsky to Pope Leo XIII, who announced their promotions in the consistory assembly of 19 June. Sheptytsky was ordained bishop in Lviv, on 17 September, by Metropolitan Kuilovsky, assisted by Bishop Chekhovych and Bishop Weber, the Latin-Rite auxiliary of Lviv. The following day, he was enthroned as bishop of Stanislaviv. The new Bishop immediately began a dynamic spiritual, moral and educational reform of his diocese. Not two months later, the apostolic nuncio was already praising his “rare qualities”, noting that “with prudence and caution, he has began to manifest an exceptional zeal in the government of his Diocese, where there is an extreme need to summon the clergy to a more disciplined life, which conforms to the priestly state.” Bishop Andrei’s “firm resolve” combined with his profound spirituality and warm attitude towards both clergy and laity won the hearts of the flock. Even hitherto skeptical Ruthenian-Ukrainian nationalists leaders somewhat changed their opinion of Sheptytsky from wariness to praise for his dedication to the people.


2. Nomination as Metropolitan-Archbishop
Like all Greek-Catholic episcopal nominations since the 1870’s, the 1899 nominations amounted to what had become the standard compromise between various interest groups of church and state. In addition, just before his formal nomination, Bishop Kuilovsky rejected Basilian Father Platonides Filas as his designated auxiliary-bishop and seminary rector. It was understood that the elderly bishop could not manage the large archdiocese alone and the government contemplated leaving aside Kuilovsky’s nomination altogether. At this point, Cardinal Ledóchowski made one last effort to propose Andrei Sheptytsky as metropolitan. However, since the emperor had already signed the presentation, Rome decided to go ahead, in the hope that the new metropolitan would accept Filas in time. It did not have long to wait for a solution to present itself because the infirm Kuilovsky died less than a year later, on 4 May 1900.
Now the path seemed to be cleared for the favoured candidate, Sheptytsky, who had gained experience and popularity in the eyes of his flock and of church and state leaders. The apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Emidio Taljani, stated that, “despite his youth, he possesses all the requisite qualities to become an excellent archbishop.” However, even this second nomination would not go as smoothly as planned. Papal secretary of state Cardinal Rampolla informed the nuncio of the Pope’s will that Sheptytsky accept the promotion to Lviv and that Father Filas replace him as bishop of Stanislaviv. This proposal appeared to acceptable to all when Sheptytsky traveled to Vienna to perform the bureaucratic procedures. There he was presented with a new condition by the government, which he and the nuncio both deemed unacceptable; a condition which had its root in the very foundation of the Stanislaviv eparchy.
In the eighteenth century, Austria took over the financial administration of the Church and established a Religion Fund to pay salaries and expenses. It had promised to found a third Greek-Catholic eparchy as far back as the 1780’s but continued to procrastinate. Finally, during the height of the Russophile scare, the government agreed to create the Stanislaviv eparchy but could not come to a final agreement as to how it would be funded. In relinquishing his office in 1882, ex-Metropolitan Josyf Sembratovych had been granted a pension by the Lviv Archeparchy. Upon his death, instead of returning the revenue to Lviv, the government planned to use part of it to fund Stanislaviv, thus exonerating itself of having to use the Religion Fund. Sheptytsky stood firm on refusing the nomination under such conditions, and submitted a clever counter-proposal containing the proviso that any decision on the Lviv revenues be subject to the approval of the Apostolic See.
Rome, however, chose not to challenge Austria on a financial issue, in view of the fact that negotiations for new bishops were becoming ever more difficult. The nuncio assured Cardinal Rampolla that, since the government was willing to defer financial negotiations, the emperor was ready to sign the nomination. It was precisely during this period of intense negotiation that Bishop Sheptytsky led a group of pilgrims to Rome to celebrate the Jubilee Year. There he met with Cardinal Rampolla, who instructed him to accept the nomination and to forward a report on the issue for a future decision by the Apostolic See. In an audience of 29 October 1900, two days before the emperor had signed his letter of presentation, Pope Leo XIII announced to the pilgrims that their bishop was to become the new metropolitan. The following 5 November, the Viennese nuncio was instructed to initiate the canonical process of collecting testimonies from three well-known priests, which was performed on 12 November.
As if the saga had not been complicated enough, Sheptytsky sent a letter to the nuncio on 11 December, placing the decision regarding the finances in the hands of the Pope. In the same missive, however, he resolutely declared that he was not willing to endure any further government pressure and, if necessary, was ready to renounce the episcopacy to return to the monastic life. Sheptytsky’s inflexibility can be further understood in the light of the fact that he had invested personal funds in Stanislaviv, expecting the government to fulfill its promise to fund a seminary on condition that he accept the episcopacy. As a result, the bishop was left financially destitute but his persistence succeeded in convincing the government to reduce some of its claims. Andrei Sheptytsky’s nomination as Greek-Catholic archbishop of Lviv was finally proclaimed at the papal consistory of 17 December 1900 and he was enthroned as metropolitan of Halych on 12 January 1901. Having agreed to Sheptytsky’s promotion, the government nonetheless suspended the nomination of his successor in Stanislaviv for another three years, until the financial issues could be resolved.
Already in the first months of office, the new Metropolitan surprised everyone by unequivocally supporting the national and political demands of his flock, just as Cardinal Sembratovych had predicted. Despite this fact, the Ukrainian national movement continued to be wary of the Polish aristocrat, whom they suspected of being a traitor in disguise. While Sheptytsky supported every honorable Ukrainian aspiration, he continued to be misunderstood by both Ukrainian and Polish nationalists. Many of them held anticlerical or even agnostic views, having been educated in Austrian legalist philosophy which looked upon the Church as an earthly instrument of the nation. With much prejudice and little foresight, Ukrainian notables continued to passionately oppose Basilian episcopal candidates, such as Platonid Filas and Josaphat Kotsylovsky, men who were to become defenders of the national identity and even protagonists in the formation of the short-lived Western Ukrainian state. While recognizing these faults, instead of withdrawing from the political forum “into the sacristy”, Sheptytsky challenged the intelligentsia and attempted to bring the teaching of Christ to the national movement. He also emasculated the Russophile movement by inaugurating a ritualist revival that was both faithful to his Church’s Kyivan roots and also to the unity of the Universal Church. It might be said that, in some respects, he beat the ritualist and political ideologues at their own game.
With the blessing of Leo XIII’s successor, Pope Pius X, Kyr Andrei also began a secret mission to establish an authentically Russian Eastern-Catholic Church. Remarkably, not only the Tsarist government but so too the fledgling Ukrainian government objected to this mission, both for nationalistic reasons.
Metropolitan Andrei’s breakthrough with the Ukrainian national movement finally came after he had been imprisoned. The Russians imprisoned him in Siberia, in 1914, because he was a danger to their plan to Russianize the Galician Ukrainians and to make them break their ecclesial unity with the Roman Pontiff. The Polish army confined him in his own archiepiscopal palace, in 1919, after they had captured Lviv from Ukrainian forces. The Polish Government tried everything to have Sheptytsky removed as Greek-Catholic archbishop of Lviv because he was an obstacle to their plan to Polonize the Ukrainians. Having failed to achieve their designs, when Sheptytsky attempted to return to his diocese from abroad in 1923, as the Pope has specifically commanded him, the Polish Government ordered that he be interned in Poznan, in an attempt to extract from him an unconditional oath of political loyalty. Notwithstanding Sheptytsky’s consistent resistance to government intrusion in Church affairs, he outlasted each one of the regimes that persecuted him. At the time, these regimes appeared to represent the greatest danger but Kyr Andrei understood that the moral condition of the individual human beings that constitute the nation had an infinitely greater and lasting significance. Throughout his episcopal ministry, Andrei Sheptytsky retained the “firm resolve” that had been credited him by the papal representative in 1899. In exile, former political leaders lost any effective voice in the homeland. The Metropolitan never fled persecution however, and he remained to comfort his people in their plight and was finally recognized by the nation a great hero and a moral figurehead. Most significantly, he remained a living martyrios, a witness to his people of Catholic unity and fidelity (not merely in theory but also in practice) to his spiritual Father, the Roman Pontiff, Successor of Blessed Peter the Apostle.