OF THE DEATH OF
METROPOLITAN ANDRIY SHEPTYTSKYJ
20TH CENTURY UKRAINIAN PASTOR & PATRIOT
LABORER FOR THE UNITY OF THE UKRAINIAN CHURCHES
This year marks the 40th. anniversary of the repose of the renowned Metropolitan of Lviv, Andriy Sheptytskyj. He was known throughout the entire world for his labors on behalf of Christian Unity, particularly the unity and cooperation of all of the Ukrainian Churches. He did not limit his efforts only to his own Greek Catholic Church, but used his respected position to staunchly defended the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church when it was liquidated and its hierarchy, clergy and faithful persecuted by the Russian Soviet Regime. He was well ahead of his time in his pioneering vision of the unity of all of Ukrainian Christianity, an ideal that is still alive and sought after in our own day.
Metropolitan Sheptytskyj saw his role as leader of the Ukrainian Church as one which extended to and united Ukrainian eparchies and parishes in both Ukraine and the Diaspora. Through his many pastoral visits and the broad episcopal authority granted him by the Apostolic See, he set in motion, the structure and events that have led to the idea of a Ukrainian Patriarchate encompassing Ukrainian Christians everywhere.
Truly, the primatial role which he claimed on behalf of the church made him the first unilateral Ukrainian churchman of modern history and the precursor of today's philosophy of an indigenous Kyivan Church and universal Ukrainian Patriarchate. Already in June of 1918, because of his strong leadership and pro-Ukrainian views, he was approached by leaders of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox movement, to accept the position of Father and Head of a unified Ukrainian patriarchate, free from the clutches of Moscow and inclusive of all Ukrainian believers. The historical circumstances of the First World War and the communist system however, prohibited this goal from becoming a reality.
During the decade of the 1930s, when the free Ukrainian Orthodox Church was fiercely persecuted by the authorities, Metropolitan Andriy firmly protested this action to the federal government. When this did not lessen the terrorism forced on the UAOC, the Metropolitan also appealed to the Vatican to intervene. Then, on July 20, 1938, he published a firm pastoral letter denouncing the actions of the government against the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, exposing the terrorism and ill-will used against it.
Later, during the Second World War, he wrote another pastoral letter, striving to safeguard the human rights of the Jews in the face of severe persecution from the Nazi Gestapo. Throughout the entire German occupation of Ukraine, he assisted many Jewish families, providing shelter for them in his own palace or in one of the monasteries. Many of those who survived the Holocaust did so because of the direct efforts of Metropolitan Sheptytskyj and the Ukrainian clergy and religious who followed his example. It was in this way that the Metropolitan showed his love and concern for all of God's people and proved to be a strong defender of the dignity of all human beings. These ideals of "human rights" are those which we as Christians are still fighting for today in other lands where harsh forms of dictatorship have reigned.
In honor of this historic anniversary, articles, programs, prayers and cultural events are taking place throughout the Ukrainian world. An article on the world-known Metropolitan's life and work will appear here in the immediate future. Below are featured an icon of Metropolitan Sheptytskyj and a prayer for his glorification.
article above by Vladyka Michael Jafchak Champion
Metropolitan Stephan Asks the Faithful to Pray for
the Glorification of Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytskyj.
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