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Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

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New York, December 6, 2006

We are disheartened to learn of the ordination of priests and deacons in Western Ukraine, who follow the "Society of St. Pius X," a movement which seperated itself from the Catholic Church following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, under the leadership of the late excommunicated French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. This movement, which until the last decade was confined to the Roman Rite, has now attempted to make inroads among the Greek Catholic faithful in Ukraine, who have always followed the Byzantine-Orthodox rituals and traditions.

Using the misleading name of the "Society of St. Josaphat" this group appears to aim at gaining popularity among the Ukrainian faithful by perpetuating certain liturgical and theological sentiments, which are products of the Latin Church and belong to a different period of time and thinking. These practices, often termed "latinizations," have long been abandoned by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the entire Catholic communion as a whole, particularly since Vatican II.

Such attempts at the latininzation of the Ukrainian church have historically, always lead to tragedy, disunity and ultimately, a loss of identity for our people as a whole. In our times, the focus of inter-church relations in Ukraine has been on greater unity which, with God's help, can eventually lead to a united Ukrainian Church, faithful to the liturgical, spiritual and theological heritage we have received from our ancestors in the faith. These things can only become reality by concentrating on what we hold in common as Ukrainian Christians, not introducing novel customs which are foreign to the Ukrainian ethos and identity.

We have followed the movement of this group and its tactics inside Ukraine during the past decade and clearly see the confusion it can potentially cause for believers. Therefore, we support Cardinal Husar, Archbishop Vozniak and our brothers and sisters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in this time of latin traditionalist intrusion among the faithful in Ukraine. Likewise, we pledge our continued cooperation in fostering greater unity among Orthodox and Eastern Rite Catholics in Ukraine, praying for the day that God will grant our Motherland a united church, faithful to it's rich and particularly Ukrainian expression of the Eastern Christian faith.

(The Most Rev. Michael Javchak Champion, DD., MA Th.)
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of AllAmerica
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church