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I received permission from Bishop Peter Stasiuk (an Australian UGCC Bishop) to share his comments to some questions I had asked about the new UGCC Catechism. Bishop Peter was on the committee that developed the Catechism.

First our initial correspondence:

First is the letter I wrote on June 8th to Bishop Peter:

Quote
Your Grace,

I recently read a 2005 article that you had written about the upcoming Ukrainian Catholic Catechism:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1455173/posts

There's a lot of speculation about whether the new UGCC Catechism will discuss some "hot button" issues that divide Orthodox and Catholic -- such as papal infallibility or papal universal jurisdiction. I noticed in your article, you stated:

"To make this catechism specific to the expression of our Eastern Church, the authors of this catechism will draw on the following sources: Sacred Scripture, the works of the Eastern Fathers of the Church, the teaching of the Ukrainian Catholic Fathers such as Metropolitan Andrei (Sheptytsky) and Patriarch Joseph, The decrees of the Synods of our Church, our liturgical texts, the lives of our Saints and Blesseds, sacred art, in particular our iconography, the teachings and documents of the Universal Catholic Church and, of course, last but not least, the teaching Magisterium of the Universal Church."

I was wondering if you could speak to how the new UGCC Catechism will address these possibly contentious issues? I realize that many issues between Catholics and Orthodox can be viewed complementarily -- as in the Filioque. But, the dispute regarding doctrines relating to the papacy are not so easily solved. Will the new UGCC Catechism affirm the traditional Catholic teachings on the papacy? The last sentence in the quote from your 2005 article could seem to indicate it would.

Also, is there any news as to when the new Catechism will be available in English?

Sincerely,

Dave Brown

I got an immediate response dated June 8th:

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Dear Dave,

Thank you for your interest in our catechism. I can tell you that the catechism is at the printers. The presentation of it will take place on 24th June 2011 in Lviv, Ukraine. It is a catechism by our church and for our church. The English translation can start almost immediately as the official language is Ukrainian. The Ukrainian Bishops of Canada and USA are responsible for producing the English version. I cannot guess how long it will take. There are about 400 pages. Once it comes out I would love to hear your opinions.

God Bless
+Peter

I wrote an initial reply on June 9th:

Quote
Thank you for your reply!

I am looking forward to the Catechism and I'm sure it'll be a very good one. I'm still in suspense to see how it will handle some of the possibly contentious issues that divide our two Churches. I pray for unity for Orthodox and Catholic but the issue of how to understand the role of the Bishop of Rome still remains to be resolved. I am hoping that the Ukrainian Catechism (since it was, as I understand, vetted in Rome by the Eastern Congregation) might indicate some resolving of that issue that separates us.

In XC,

Dave

Since I was invited by Bishop Peter to express my opinions I wrote a follow-up on September 24th:

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Your Grace,

I received a copy of the new Ukrainian Catechism last week and have been trying to decipher the Ukrainian text with the help of some friends. (My Ukrainian is non-existent.) I have to say I was impressed with the organization and the appendices which makes initial searching easier than I thought it should be.

As someone who writes on East-West issues I was hoping that this Catechism might be a text that could add to the ecumenical dialogue between Orthodoxy and Catholicism and that perhaps it might inspire a common Catechism that the faithful of both Churches could use. The listing of Councils on page 300 provided an easy way to reference key paragraphs in the Catechism. I got these translations of paragraphs 291 and 293:

"291. Each local congregation in administering the Eucharist by its bishop and through community of faith comes into communion with the other local congregations. Local congregations being in communion form the Local Church headed by a primate – a bishop, archbishop, metropolitan or patriarch. The first among the local Churches is the Roman Church, since it has the Pope of Rome – a successor of Apostle Peter – as its primate. He is the teacher and the rule of the apostolic faith, to whom the Lord gives a gift of infallibility in the matters of faith and morals. Just as apostle Peter expressed a love to Christ that was bigger than that of the others and received a commission from Christ to tend his flock (cf. Jn 21:15-18), so the Roman Peter’s Chair “presides in love”244 and holds primacy among the local churches245. This primacy is effected through Peter’s ministry of the Roman bishops, which our Church confesses in the title “The Most Holy Universal Hierarch”.

"[Footnote]245. VATICAN II, Dogmatic Constitution about the Church Lumen Gentium, 13, see also i.d. 18: "So that the episcopate itself would be kept in unity and indivisibility, put Saint Peter over the other apostles and established in him a continuous and visible origin and foundation for the unity of faith and communion (cf. Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, (18.07.1870): Denz. 1821 (3050 w.). And this teaching about establishment, continuity, power and sense of the sacred primacy of the Roman Hierarch and about his infallible teaching is again given by the Sacred Council to all believers for their steadfast believing.”

293 "Christ entrusts the ministry of Church universality to the apostle Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Lk. 22:32). The Bishop of Rome – a bearer of Peter’s ministry – convenes Ecumenical Councils, approves of their decisions, ascertains and expresses the infallible doctrines of the Church, resolves difficulties that arise in the life of local Churches. The ministry of the Roman Hierarch testifies of “the most ancient apostolic times"247. His ministry is to “strengthen the brothers” in common faith (cf. Lk. 22:31-42), be a “rock” (cf. Mt. 16:18) and a “shepherd” (cf. Jn. 21:15-18). “It is to him (the Roman Hierarch), in St. Peter, that Jesus Christ passed on the whole authority to tend, manage and take care of the whole Church, as it is established at the Ecumenical Councils and in the sacred canons”248.

247 - See Dmytro Tuptalo, Lives of Saints. October 11. Remembering the 7th Ecumenical Council.
248 - Council of Florence, Oros."


It was a surprise to see the reference to Pastor Aeternus but I was even more surprised to see the various references to the Florentine decree Laetentur Coeli, which can be read here:

http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/17ecume8.htm

From what I can see, the Catechism cites the papal bull of union from Florence in discussing the procession of the Holy Spirit (para. 98), Purgatory (para. 250), the Papacy (para. 293), and lastly, I believe in a context of discussion of East-West unity (para. 306).

In addition, I got this translation of paragraph 311 and its accompanying footnote:

"The Church universally confesses that Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin, and venerates her in the festivals of the liturgical year. In the festivals dedicated to the Theotokos the Church prayerfully commemorates the salvific events from Theotokos's life: Conception by St. Anna 274, Christmas, Introduction to the Temple, Annunciation, Presentation and Dormition, seeing in her an example for our growing in holiness."

Footnote 274

"The Pope of Rome Pius IX by his bull Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854) proclaimed the dogma on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "The Most Holy Virgin Mary from the moment of Her very conception by a special blessing and privilege from the Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was protected against any spot of the original guilt" (DS 2803; also CCC 491)."

I fully understand that the Catechism is a Catholic Catechism and not an Orthodox Catechism but these passages seemed to present the traditional Catholic understanding of papal supremacy, papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception in a much stronger way than many of us thought it would. Also, the several references in the Catechism to the Council of Florence union decree seem to indicate that the Florentine solution to East-West differences is the final answer.

My translation source is a friend in Ukraine who is very busy and has only provided me these few paragraphs so far. I also realize they are unofficial and possibly inaccurate. But, as an ecumenical Orthodox I am troubled by the direction these paragraphs seem to be going. Are there paragraphs which provide a bit of nuance to these issues? Also, a couple of my friends have suggested that these more direct statements might have been inserted in the text based on recommendation from the Eastern Congregation in Rome? Could you comment to these concerns?

In XC,

Dave Brown

Bishop Peter's reply is in the next post.

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I received this reply from Bishop Peter on September 27th and his permission to share this correspondence today:

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Dear Dave,

Thank you for your comments about our catechism.

You realise that our church is very diverse. It exists in many countries, has many languages, many cultures and mentalities. Ukrainian immigration is also very diverse, along with it is the result of the isolation in which our people have lived. To unify this church is a monumental task, but one which is necessary. Our bishops reflect the diversity of our church. It took us 10 years but we achieved a unanimous vote on the catechism. Since publication we seem to have nothing but positive comments from our church.

I must add that the catechism was published on the authority of our canon law without reference to other authorities. What we wrote we did of our own free will.

This is what the Ukrainian Catholic Church is. We had to tell our own people what they believe, how they pray and how they live. Many of our people around the world are not yet clear about that.

It was not written as an ecumenical statement. You cannot speak of ecumenism if you do not know who you are. I suppose this is a starting point for our ecumenical dialogue with others. But at no time did we have ecumenism in mind. Our task was to explain our church as clearly as possible to our people.

Translations into many languages have already begun. When these come out I expect to hear many more comments.

I am sure that improvements and clarifications will be made in the next edition. However, I suspect that will not be for some time, but it will come.

Your interest is healthy and welcome.

Yours sincerely in Christ
+Peter

I think Bishop Peter gives a good explanation of what to expect from the new UGCC Catechism and clears up some of the misunderstandings myself and others have had about it.

I might add that in the past few days Bishop Peter broke his arm and was hospitalized as part of the recovery. In your charity, please remember Vladyka Peter in your prayers.

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Thank you for sharing with everyone the comments of Bishop Peter.

On a side note, I think it is wonderful that a bishop, let alone a bishop heavily involved in the publishing of this catechism, is readily available and so willing to dialogue with the faithful.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Taft wrote about shortening Vespers in that last work, but he was concerned mostly with the restoration of Vespers as a liturgical service in the Latin Church, where it is almost totally unknown. His main objection to Latin Vespers is its excessively monastic focus, which makes it difficult to use in a parochial setting.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I don't want to dwell on this because Dave has bought out some very interesting information. But Fr Taft spoke of shortening our vespers at the first SS Cyril & Methodius Lecture (in 2003, I think) and the subject material was pretty much the same as what you mentioned about Latin versper ritual. I don't recall if he was speaking of publicly celebrated vespers, private vespers or both. I recall this because in my diaconate paper (written before the lecture)on reviving vespers as a small community prayer celebrated among laypersons it very much parallelled Fr Taft's talk.

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DTBrown Offline OP
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Thank you for sharing with everyone the comments of Bishop Peter.

On a side note, I think it is wonderful that a bishop, let alone a bishop heavily involved in the publishing of this catechism, is readily available and so willing to dialogue with the faithful.

Thanks, but the real person to thank is Bishop Peter who was willing to have his words made public.

I think it is important to note that in his letter he said that "the catechism was published on the authority of our canon law without reference to other authorities. What we wrote we did of our own free will."

So, while the Catechism was sent to the Eastern Congregation as was noted in earlier press releases there was no imposition of material by them into the Catechism.

Nor, as Bishop Peter explains, was the Catechism "written as an ecumenical statement." He adds that "at no time did we have ecumenism in mind."

Personally, I am disappointed in this and that the Eastern Congregation apparently did not interject some concerns.

What this might suggest to some Orthodox is that the doctrines espoused by the later Councils held in the West (like Florence and Vatican I and II) are non-negotiable in the ecumenical dialogue. This would limit such discussions to how the Petrine primacy is exercised but not to how its been defined in these Western councils. If the discussions are limited to this one aspect (how papal primacy is exercised and excluding the theological issues), I fear no real progress will be made.

A side note: perhaps discussions on comparisons between Eastern Catholic jurisdictions or issues of liturgical differences, renewal or other related subjects could be continued in new threads devoted to those subjects and the rest of this thread be limited to discussion of the new UGCC Catechism and any possible ecumenical impact? Also, further translations of paragraphs from the new UGCC Catechism would be most welcome. Thanks!

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Originally Posted by Paul B
I don't want to dwell on this because Dave has bought out some very interesting information. But Fr Taft spoke of shortening our vespers at the first SS Cyril & Methodius Lecture (in 2003, I think) and the subject material was pretty much the same as what you mentioned about Latin versper ritual. I don't recall if he was speaking of publicly celebrated vespers, private vespers or both. I recall this because in my diaconate paper (written before the lecture)on reviving vespers as a small community prayer celebrated among laypersons it very much parallelled Fr Taft's talk.

Father Deacon Paul,

This may br better as another thread.....

... but what is the, for lack of a better word, "problem" with the current Byzantine Vespers and what recommendations did you make for revival?

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Yet the belief abides that somewhere, somehow, there will come a leader who will make all right again. It's a small Church. We know who all the likely prospects are. We know all the major players, we know all the cliques and factions. If there was even a remote chance of getting some dynamic, new, transformational leadership, don't you think some of us would know whence it is likely to come?

Two dynamic leaders come to mind. Since they are dynamic there is probably little hope that they will be selected. But Fathers Eyman and Loya come to mind.

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As you said, little hope. I would have said, "Not a chance".

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... but what is the, for lack of a better word, "problem" with the current Byzantine Vespers and what recommendations did you make for revival?

The most common complaint is the difficulty of celebrating it as a typica service in the absence of a priest, which really means the almost absolute necessity of having a cantor who can sing the vesperal tones.

However, the main problem concerning the restoration of Vespers as a distinct liturgical service in the Ruthenian Church is simply the refusal of the bishops to require it, combined with a preference for the hybrid "verspergy". One priest told me outright that the people would not come to a service where they could not receive communion.

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Hi Dave,

I am very glad that Vladika Peter allowed his words to be made public. I found this paragraph of interest

Quote
You realise that our church is very diverse. It exists in many countries, has many languages, many cultures and mentalities. Ukrainian immigration is also very diverse, along with it is the result of the isolation in which our people have lived. To unify this church is a monumental task, but one which is necessary. Our bishops reflect the diversity of our church. It took us 10 years but we achieved a unanimous vote on the catechism. Since publication we seem to have nothing but positive comments from our church.


The words that I put in bold are important, IMHO.

From my understanding, in the Ukrainian Church you have the Studites on the more Orthodox side and then you have the Basilians on the other. The Studites seem to be up and coming in the Ukrainian Church.

I think the nuanced stance on P.I is a start in the right direction. Would the more ultramontanist forces in the UGCC sign on for a more Orthodox view of the papacy? No, I don't think so. It would divide the Church.

So I am hopeful that as the new leadership of the UGCC under Patriarch Sviatoslav and the Studites continues to grow and the older generation of fades into history.

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From my understanding, in the Ukrainian Church you have the Studites on the more Orthodox side and then you have the Basilians on the other. The Studites seem to be up and coming in the Ukrainian Church.

I think the nuanced stance on P.I is a start in the right direction. Would the more ultramontanist forces in the UGCC sign on for a more Orthodox view of the papacy? No, I don't think so. It would divide the Church.

I've heard those characterizations of the different orders before from others but can't comment on the accuracy of it.

I think it's too early to say there's a "nuanced stance" on papal infallibility in the Catechism. It clearly cites Pastor Aeternus. My take on the Catechism's reference to it is that Ukrainian Catholics are to accept what Pastor Aeternus teaches.

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The Basilians and the Studites have been going at it since the days of Metropolitan Andrij. Were that Father Serge were in better health--he can lay out the whole story in great detail. But the statement that the Basilians are more latinized and are hostile to the Studites is correct in its essentials. If Metropolitan Andrij is never canonized, linger Basilian hostility will largely be to blame.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
Taft wrote about shortening Vespers in that last work, but he was concerned mostly with the restoration of Vespers as a liturgical service in the Latin Church, where it is almost totally unknown. His main objection to Latin Vespers is its excessively monastic focus, which makes it difficult to use in a parochial setting. Taft would like to roll back Latin vespers to something approaching the ancient cathedral rite, stripped of excessive psalmody, to create something that the Latin faithful could learn and celebrate together.

Ordinary form Roman Rite Vespers hardly has excessive psalmody.

Opening Verses
Hymn
Psalm with Antiphon
Psalm with Antiphon
New Testament Canticle with Antiphon
Reading
Responsory
Magnificat with Antiphon
Intercessions
Our Father
Collect
Blessing and Dismissal

Hard to see what could be stripped out to make it simpler. Perhaps one antiphon all the variable psalmody rather than three for each psalm/canticle. I found it interesting that the Anglican Use kept Evening Prayer from the 79 BCP verbatim but not the Order of Worship for the Evening which consist of:

Mozarabic Lucernarium greeting: "Light and Peace in Jesus Christ our Lord."
Short Reading
Prayer for Light
O Gracious Light with candle lighting
then Vespers continues with the Psalmody.

and is a very Cathedral element that could be used to enrich not only the Anglican use but the Roman Rite as a whole.


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Originally Posted by StuartK
However, the main problem concerning the restoration of Vespers as a distinct liturgical service in the Ruthenian Church is simply the refusal of the bishops to require it, combined with a preference for the hybrid "verspergy". One priest told me outright that the people would not come to a service where they could not receive communion.

A priest once told me the same thing as well. His name was Archimandrite Robert Taft. He basically said that Catholics (the majority) are so Eucharist reception centered there is no use of trying to convince them of the importance of a non-Eucharistic service as they are simply incapable of accepting such. One must start with the new generation.


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On the defects of the Hours in the Roman rite, see Taft, Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, pp.314-317.

On the Catholic reduction of liturgy to the Eucharist, yes, Taft has said this, but I had a different priest in mind. Archimandrite Nicholas of Holy Resurrection Monastery also said the same thing in a presentation to the Orientale Lumen Conference, some time around 2000-2001.

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