By PATRICK O'DONOVAN
THE SAD dispute within the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite continues in Britain. Essentially it concerns the desire of the overwhelming majority of the Church in exile for Cardinal Josef Slipyj to be declared Patriarch of this Church by the Pope. It is a Church with its own rites, liturgical language and married priests.
Cardinal Slipyj is the sole survivor of the former Catholic hierarchy in the Ukraine. Some II of its bishops have died in prison or been murdered since the war.
The Catholic Ukrainians used to be the chief proponents of Ukrainian nationalism, resisting, in turn, Poles, Russians and Germans — though some did fight alongside the Germans in the hope of freedom. Ukrainians in exile feel little but hatred for Communism.
Cardinal Slipyj was himself 18 years in Russian gaols. He had been prominent as Major Bishop in resisting attempts to coerce the Catholic Church into the Russ* Orthodox Church and make its bishops, priests and laity subject to the Patriarch of Moscow, In fact this Church was united with Rome in 1596, so that there existed side by side a Ukrainian Orthodox and increasingly Russified Church and a resistant Catholic Church. There was little that was eirenic in their relationship.
After severe persecution designed to make them Orthodox, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was officially abolished by the Russian Government on January 1, and it exists now only underground. There used to be some five million of them out of a population of 40 million.
In 1969, all the Ukrainian bishops in exile, of whom there are now 14, petitioned the Pope to make the Cardinal the Ukrainian Patriarch with authority over all his scattered Church. Despite the strength of exile opinion, this the Pope refused. Among the petitioners was Bishop Hornyak, who is head of the 35,000 Ukrainians in this country.
The reasons for the Roman decision have not been given precisely. There is the legal point that a Patriarch should have authority over a defined area.
There is also the fact of Vatican Ostpolitik, which began when Pope John began to relax a little the absolute opposition to all things Communist of Pius XII. Pope Paul appears to want the legalisations of a few bishops and priests and is probably prepared to bargain the Patriarchate for this concession.
Not unnaturally, the Ukrainians have little sympathy for this relaxation and cannot see any good coming of it. Bishop Hornyak accepted the Roman decision to the letter, but about 90 per cent of his flock were grieved by it, They wanted a Patriarch as a symbol of their unity and culture and as a way of strengthening their Church.
Ukrainian bishops in Canada and Australia already accept the Cardinal as Patriarch by acclamation, and hold that the Pope's authority is not essential here. Cardinal Slipyj himself has said that the Patriarchate existed whether Rome recognised it or not. recognised it or not.
It is an obscure and disorderly dispute. There is no revolt against Papal authority as such, and the dispute is only a matter for real bitterness in this country. Bishop Hornyak has several times been prevented by singing and interruptions from preaching in his own cathedral near London's Oxford Street.
There have been no mass boycotts of churches, though one church in Wolverhampton has been closed, apparently as a result of a financial dispute between priest and people. The legality of four ordinations performed by authority of the Cardinal is under investigation.
Thereis a Ukrainian cultural organisation, the Banderists, named after a Ukrainian leader murdered by the KGB in Munich in 1959. Ukrainian leaders here deny that this organisation has played any role in the present dispute which, they say has been exacerbated by the bishop's refusal to receive a delegation.