CDF: Declaration on break away Greek “Catholic” group, excommunications

From VIS and Vatican Radio (Bolletino in Italian):

CDF issues declaration on canonical status of “so-called Greek-Catholic bishops of Pidhirci”

Given below is the text of a declaration issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the canonical status of the “so-called Greek-Catholic bishops of Pidhirci”: Fr. Elias A. Dohnal O.S.B.M., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk O.S.B.M., Fr. Metodej R. Spirik O.S.B.M., and Fr. Robert Oberhauser. The text is dated 22 February and bears the signatures of Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(1) The Holy See has followed with great concern the activities of Fr. Elias A. Dohnal O.S.B.M., Fr. Markian V. Hitiuk O.S.B.M., Fr. Metodej R. Spirik O.S.B.M., and Fr. Robert Oberhauser who, having been expelled from the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat, subsequently proclaimed themselves as bishops of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church. With their disobedience, these priests continue to challenge ecclesiastical authority, causing moral and spiritual damage, not only to the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat and the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, but also to this Apostolic See and the Catholic Church as a whole. All this provokes division and bewilderment among the faithful. The aforementioned priests, having established a group of “bishops” of Pidhirci, have recently sought to have that group recognised and registered by the competent State authorities as the “Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church”.
(2) Since the beginning of this painful episode, Church representatives of various ranks have sought to dissuade them from continuing a conduct which, among other things, could deceive the faithful, as has already happened in a number of cases.
(3) The Holy See, concerned to protect the unity and peace of Christ’s flock, had hoped in the repentance and subsequent return of the aforementioned priests to full communion with the Catholic Church. Unfortunately the most recent developments – such as the unsuccessful attempt to acquire State registration for the “Pidhirci” group under the name of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church” – demonstrates their continuing disobedience.
(4) Therefore, to safeguard the common good of the Church and the “salus animarum”, and given that the so-called “bishops” of Pidhirci show no sign of repentance but continue to create confusion and disarray in the community of faithful, in particular by calumniating representatives of the Holy See and of the local Church, and asserting that the supreme authority of the Church is in possession of documentation testifying to the full validity of their episcopal ordination, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accepting the request presented by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, and by other dicasteries of the Holy See, has decided, by this declaration, to inform the faithful, especially in the countries of origin of the so-called “bishops”, about their current canonical status.
(5) This Congregation, disassociating itself entirely from the actions of the so-called “bishops” aforementioned, and from their aforesaid declarations, formally declares that it does not recognise the validity of their episcopal ordinations, or of any and all ordinations that have derived, or will derive therefrom. Moreover, the canonical status of the four so-called “bishops” is that of excommunication, pursuant to canon 1459 para. 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO), in view of the fact that an appeal sentence of the ordinary tribunal of the Major Archiepiscopal Ukrainian Church, issued on 10 September 2008, recognised them as guilty of offences under canons 1462, 1447 and 1452 of the CCEO; i.e., the offences of illegitimate usurpation of office, inciting sedition and hatred towards certain hierarchs, provoking subjects to disobedience, and harming a third party’s good name by calumny.
(6) Furthermore, the use of the name “Catholic” by groups which are not recognised by the competent ecclesiastical authority is to be considered as illegitimate, pursuant to canon 19 of the CCEO.
(7) The faithful are, then, enjoined not to adhere to the aforementioned group as, to all canonical effects, it is outside ecclesiastical communion. The faithful are invited to pray for the members of the group, that they may repent and return to full communion with the Catholic Church. (VIS)

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  1. Dr. Eric says:

    I’ll be the first one to write this in the combox: and yet the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and the Kennedys are still not excommunicated. [Do you get that you are comparing apples and zebras?]

  2. Liam says:

    Why has this come out of the CDF on the same day that such an irenic and docile communique came out of Menzingen?

    Is someone in the curia consciously trying to derail any reapproachment between the SSPX and Rome?

  3. Liam says:

    Ah…my mistake! I thought these bishops of Pidhirci were the Lefebvrist Ukrainians. I now see that they are a different group.

  4. SonofMonica says:

    Dr. Eric, it’s okay to kill babies, just not pretend to be a a bishop! Just as it’s okay to profane the Eucharist as long as the community doesn’t know you’re doing it! Ta da!

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    a) Believe it or not, this Greek issue is far more important on the international scene, even though we’re just now hearing about it. This cannot be allowed to happen anywhere, and putting a halt to this incident is important. Greece is in a state of economic collapse, and all kinds of odd things that could never otherwise happen, happen in economic collapse. There will be more economic collapses before we’re done. We may end up having one.
    b) The ordinaries of the respective dioceses where these American traitors to the Church live are the ones you should be yelling about first. They allowed this, and continue to allow it. That is the real scandal.
    c) The USA has enormous problems, as enormous as any of the other areas that that are in cultural & religious free-fall, but we’re not the center of the world. If we want things to change, WE have to get in there and do something about it.

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Alas, sarcasm in regard to unrelated issues.

    I wanted to remark that the canonical clarity of this statement is better than some other recent similar notes. We are now talking, for example, about “validity” of orders, not just “recognition” of orders. It’s a step in the right direction to say exactly what is at issue.

  7. SonofMonica says:

    Dr. Peters:

    I’ll apologize for my sarcastic tone. But I can’t agree that the issues are unrelated. [They are unrelated.]

    Here, excommunications are taking place in order to preserve the public’s perception of the integrity of the Church’s hierarchy. With respect to the Johnson situation to which I was obviously making a comparison, your reading of Canon 915 suggests to me that said Canon is all about protecting the public’s perception of the hierarchy as well, instead of protecting Christ’s body and blood from profanation. In other words, I see willingness on the part of the bishops to act whenever their reputations or their visible authority are in jeopardy, but often not when it is for the good of souls. I don’t get in their face about it because they are my shepherds and it isn’t my place. But it doesn’t mean I don’t at least somewhat resent you as a fellow lawyer for providing cover for it. I think your reading of Canon 915 smacks of worries about political-correctness, “scandal” and popular perception, and runs contrary to what Eucharistic discipline should be about: respect for our Lord and the avoidance of eating and drinking unto one’s own condemnation.

    So, again, I apologize for the sarcasm and passive-aggressiveness. But I do see a pattern here.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    Acting when the authority of the Church is threatened *IS* protecting Catholics in the pews. We’ve seen what can happen when the likes of America magazine sets itself up as an alternate teaching authority (given as an example to which Americans can relate). This can’t be allowed to happen in an open context. It opens us up to severe and lasting attack in the public square. Catholics need to start thinking and start being more discriminating about who’s in and who’s out of the Catholic community on a real everyday practicing basis. This is not the free and easy atmosphere of the last 40 years. Things have changed. Hello.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    The essence of my comments is founded on the observation that being Catholic is not only something you talk about; it’s something you do, something you belong to, something you participate in. It’s relatively easy to pretend to be Catholic, particularly if you show up on the television as a professional blabbermouth and get paid for it.

    Look, the business of the news is ratings and advertisement. It’s all about money. People get paid to appear on tv for the purposes of bolstering audience ratings which are tied to profits. They’re hired because they serve the purposes of the station, not necessarily because they have anything worthwhile to say, or even anything intelligent to say. We don’t pay them. They may or may not serve the purposes of us or the Church.

    So what do we do about these strays the media picks up to speak for us? We denounce them in a kindly but firm way. We don’t know who these people are. Nobody sees them practice anything; they certainly don’t sound like they practice anything; any Catholic would know better than to say something grossly ignorant like that; does anybody know them from a neighborhood Church? Is there any evidence that they have any standing whatsoever among us? And we ought to be able to say that in public.

  10. Dr. Eric says:


    The Greek Catholics in the group are breaking away from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church under “Major Archbishop” Sviatoslav. (They are the largest Sui Juris Eastern Catholic Church yet are not allowed to call their leader a Patriarch.)

  11. pfreddys says:

    Didn’t these priests at least have the sense to find an Orthodox bishop to consecrate them before proclaiming themselves bishops?

    Even though the show was called The Three Stooges, I do believe there were actually four stooges, as is the case here.

  12. Allan S. says:

    I do not regard the timing of this release as coincidental vis-a-vis the SSPX reconciliation coming to a head. A not so subtle “Gee, don’t we have a nice hammer?”.

    Remember – this was a text dated Feb. 22. And it’s only now being released. I don’t disapprove, but I don’t recall having seen the Holy See play hardball before. Interesting.

  13. ContraMundum says:

    The very name they want to sail under — “Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church” — should be a hint. Hey, why not go for broke: “African Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Pentecostal Church of Latter-Day Saints”?

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    Dr Eric,

    And yet they have demonstrably left the Church, which is most assuredly not news to the local Catholic population, who have probably watched the whole thing roll out for years.

  15. SonofMonica says:

    Acting when the authority of the Church is threatened *IS* protecting Catholics in the pews.

    Notice I said acting when their reputation or visible authority is threatened. I don’t think that’s quite the same. Let me give you an example: Our bishops keep insisting that the HHS fight is not about contraception, precisely because they know they have lost their authority to teach about contraception, [I reject your premise.] and they are not making any (meaningful, concerted) attempt to regain that authority. [I reject that premise too.] But once the visible appearance of authority is threatened (i.e., the state is going to make them do something against church teaching which would “scandalize” the few faithful that remain) they act under the auspices of protecting religious freedom. And Card. Dolan admits that if they didn’t do it that way, they wouldn’t win, because opposition to contraception is unpopular. [So, you would rather the bishops not fight the HHS mandate in such a way that they can succeed.]

    Now, I support them standing up for religious freedom. [Ah!] It’s one of my hot-button issues where I’m in lockstep with the bishops. But if they cared about the good of souls, [Think about the accusation you just made against a couple hundred Catholic bishops.] they would not have abdicated their authority on the issue of contraception, [Are they abdicating it now? Do you see no difference between the body of bishops in the USA now and how they were, say, 20 years ago?] and they would not be insisting that this isn’t about contraception at all. (It is both about contraception and religious freedom, and we all know it). [Just saying “we all know it” doesn’t make it so. I haven’t heard any bishops shy away from the Church’s teachings when entering into this conflict. Read their statements of protest. But if they are going to make an argument ad extra (and not just preach and urge ad intra) they have to take an argument to the public square that is going to be effective in the public square. Even there they haven’t ditched the Church’s teaching on contraception or abortion.]

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: date — The Vatican doesn’t exactly act with speed, and in this case, the Vatican groups had to coordinate with the Eastern side of things, not with Latin Rite canon law authorities. Translations into English are normally slow, but translations from minority languages into English can be glacial. So no, I don’t think any of the relevant authorities was holding this back so as to use it against the CDF, or speeding it up, or anything of the sort.

    I suggest that what we see here is a pre-Holy Week clearance of the inboxes, possibly sped up to save the faithful from having their Great Lent messed up, thanks to these Pidhirci bozos.

  17. The Cobbler says:

    “I don’t disapprove, but I don’t recall having seen the Holy See play hardball before. Interesting.”
    You think it’s interesting now… the Holy See’s idea of hardball is mixed up with the Holy See’s idea of good cop bad cop is mixed up with the Holy See’s idea of moon missions. Or something. I haven’t been able to make heads or tails of their strategy all my life (admittedly not long so far), aside from noticing that they will bend over backward to accomodate people in an attempt to get as many people as possible in through the minimal requirements of the Faith — a strategy I’m not sure works, given that boiling the Faith down to or stretching its minimum requirements never ends well, but one I at least can agree with the motive for, which is trying to bring salvation to as many people as possible and not making it more burdensome than necessary (read St. Paul and keep in mind that, to paraphrase Christ, it is necessary that burdens should come, but woe to him by whom they come). I do wish Church leaders would step up and deal with actual material dissent more often, at least investigate cases of ambiguity so people don’t think they can get away with whatever so long as they word it misleadingly, in addition to dealing with formal dissent (where the authority of Rome is defied). It’s not that what they do crack down on doesn’t need cracking down on, but that I wish more bishops would step up to the challenge of figuring out whose side people are really on when they talk gobbledygook and whatnot and start cracking down on disobedience in things other than episcopal ordinations. Heck, even the matter of defying Rome could stand more cracking down on — how many liberals have you heard preaching that there is no hierarchical authority in the Church? The trouble seems to be twofold: pastors on the ground have loyal local followers, and bishops don’t seem to be in the habit of using most of the canonical penalties in between nothing and excommunication.

    Well, that ramble went off its own topic (though it stayed around the topic of the post, I think) in multiple dimensions. Oh well. I don’t see any easy way to reorganize it into clearer sets of comments, but I don’t see that it’s irrelevant enough not to put out there… here’s hoping somebody groks it.

  18. Vincent Ferrer says:

    Apples and zebras? Unrelated issues? Why is that? They both concern enforcement of the law.

    The law of the Church, no more than the laws of the state, are not the private property of the hierarchy, to enforce or not to enforce at their whim. Otherwise, law does not exist. The offices of the hierarchy were instituted for the governance of the Church: to teach, sanctify, and rule. “Ruling” means making and enforcing law. The lawmaker is not above the law, it is said (in reference to the higher law, ultimately of God). Even the Pope is not above the law as it comes from Christ Himself, through the Apostles, in its fundamental provisions.

    So here we have law being enforced in one case, in one place, while law is ignored elsewhere, in other cases. Some laws are effectively dead letters: the laws against heresy, against public denials of Catholic teaching, against flagrant public immorality. The speck in the priest’s eye (who merely thought he was obeying the law) is examined through the microscope (and punished), while the beams in the eyes of bishops, politicians, and public homosexuals escape all notice of those constituted in authority.

    (And in regard to the Guarnizo case, which is only one of the issues here, if, as Dr. Roberts has commented, there is any doubt as to the facts in the case or the status of the offended party, that doubt exists solely because the archbishop refuses to proceed canonically in this matter, by an investigation and trial–in other words, to enforce the law.)

    A further point of interest is that the Basilian priests (bishops?) referred to in the CDF communiqué above have accused Cardinal Husar of publicly approving homosexual acts (citing his book), among other heresies. It is on this basis, as well as on the basis of similar accusations against other Ukrainian Catholic bishops, that they justify their actions.

  19. Vincent Ferrer says:

    Dr. Peters comments:

    “I wanted to remark that the canonical clarity of this statement is better than some other recent similar notes. We are now talking, for example, about “validity” of orders, not just “recognition” of orders. It’s a step in the right direction to say exactly what is at issue.”

    I’m not so sure. The statement says: “This Congregation … formally declares that it does not recognise the validity of their episcopal ordinations…”

    This lacks clarity in various ways. In the first place, it’s not a declaration about the facts of the matter; it’s a declaration about what “this Congregation” “recognises.” Does their “recognition” dispose of the question of fact, or does it not? This isn’t stated. (Yes, the word “validity” is mentioned, but nothing is really said about it.) In the next place, the words “does not recognise” could be taken in either of two ways: as equivalent to a mere lack of recognition, or a positive refusal of recognition. A mere lack of recognition would be insignificant, because nothing follows from it. In the third place, the whole tenor of this statement and its background makes it evident (though I would stand corrected by better information) that the CDF issued this statement on the basis of no legal proceeding whatsoever, but only, as it states, at the request of the Ukrainian bishops and others. Read what they say: the CDF

    “accepting the request presented by the ecclesiastical authorities of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, and by other dicasteries of the Holy See, has decided, by this declaration, to inform the faithful, especially in the countries of origin of the so-called “bishops”, about their current canonical status.”

    So the CDF is acting (if we define talking, i.e. merely issuing a statement, as acting), not pursuant to a canonical action, but merely in answer to these requests. And their “action” consists of “inform[ing] the faithful.” Where is the legal proceeding? Nowhere. It should further be noted that the priests involved state, on their website, that they appealed to Rome (specifically, the Apostolic Signature), and their appeal was refused.

    So what we have here is merely an informational communiqué. Nevertheless, it is dressed up and presented as though it were a disciplinary action of a dicastery of the Holy See, when it seems that it is no such thing. I don’t call that clarity.

    And to return to the point of the validity of the ordinations: the CDF indicates no basis for its “non-recognition”, whatever that may mean, of the validity of the orders. It could only have resolved such a question by a duly constituted canonical action, followed by a formal judgment, or at least by a full formal review of the proceedings of the lower court (the Ukrainian bishops, apparently). It is their solemn duty, in addition to matters of discipline, to safeguard the validity of the sacraments, another matter of enforcing the law. And the only lawful, and effective, means of arriving at truth in matters of public law (which includes, in the supernatural jurisprudence of the Church, the truth of the faith and the valid application of the sacraments), are public proceedings according to the criteria of the law.

  20. PostCatholic says:

    Isn’t about the religious freedom to object to contraception?

  21. “They are the largest Sui Juris Eastern Catholic Church yet are not allowed to call their leader a Patriarch.”

    There’s a reason.

    The patriarchate is traditionally located in Kiev, which centuries ago was taken over by those who went with the Orthodox schism, while the Major Archbishop is seated (until recently) in Lviv. Although at least one of this predecessors was popularly known by that title (if not officially), naming Sviatoslav as “Patriarch” would strain relations with the Orthodox, at a time when dialogue continues in earnest.

  22. Dr. Eric says:

    Father Z,

    I was pointing out that eventually someone would drag our “catholic” politicians into this discussion, I was not trying to compare apples and zebras.


    I was trying to clear up what I took as a misunderstanding of you bringing in the economic crisis in Greece. It seemed that you thought that the schismatic group was from Greece.


    The Patriarchs of Moscow, Bucharest, Belgrade, and Tblisi all had to unilaterally declare themselves Patriarch (through the synod) and get excommunicated and re-enter the Orthodox Communion. Even now there are at least three different Orthodox Churches with hierarchs in Kyiv. Cardinal Husar was referred to as Patriarch in the liturgies four times at every Divine Liturgy of the UGCC that I’ve been to. Cardinal Slipyj was also referred to as “His Beatitude” so the push for a UGCC Patriarch goes back to at least WWII.

  23. chonak says:

    A few notes:

    This is about Greek-Catholics: i.e., Byzantine-rite Catholics, not about Greece. The group is a schism from the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

    The Pidhirtsi movement’s so-called “bishops” would have been consecrated by one member, a former Orthodox priest who claims to have been consecrated clandestinely by a bishop who is now deceased. CDF therefore has reason to doubt the validity of their consecrations.

    The group was founded by a former Latin-rite Czech priest, a Fr. Spirik, who went from the charismatic movement into the Eastern church. He joined an order, and later tried to start an experimental community within it. Their rebellion against the bishops got the community suppressed. He was transferred out of Czechoslovakia to Ukraine, where he assembled his former followers and took over one monastery of the Basilian order, at Pidhirtsi.

    The word translated as “Orthodox” in their English name does not mean “orthodox” as in “Orthodox Church”. Rather, it means “right-believing”, not “right-worshipping”. The movement actually wants to keep a distance from the Orthodox Church and preserve Latinized elements in devotion and liturgy.

    The group has issued canonically absurd decrees purporting to excommunicate virtually all the Catholic bishops in the world. In videos, they read out long lists of the bishops they are condemning.

    This all got started under the reign of the previous Major Archbishop, and it has little or nothing to do with the current one.

    The group has tried more than once to physically occupy churches and chancery offices, sometimes with the help of local officials wanting to encourage division among Catholics.

    They even went so far as to issue a decree against the Pope, and declare themselves a new “patriarchate” offering to bring like-minded people elsewhere in the world (if any) under their authority.

  24. chonak says:

    A correction: the group’s founder whom I described above is Fr. Anthony “Elias” Dohnal. I’m sorry for specifying the wrong name previously.

  25. Vincent Ferrer says:

    Chonak wrote:

    “The Pidhirtsi movement’s so-called “bishops” would have been consecrated by one member, a former Orthodox priest who claims to have been consecrated clandestinely by a bishop who is now deceased. CDF therefore has reason to doubt the validity of their consecrations.”

    Why is this reason to doubt the consecrations? (At any rate, the CDF did not say it “doubts” the consecrations, but that it does not “recognize” their validity.) This is evidence, which would have to be investigated, verified, or disproved. The fact that the original consecrating bishop is dead would not prevent this. It would be a matter of witnesses, documentary proofs, and the other elements brought out in any real investigation. There is no indication, as I have said, in the CDF declaration that anyone has investigated this, simply an ipse dixit as to “not recognizing.” Truth or justice obviously are not the concern here, merely repression by force.

    (It also appears that the bishops claim to have sent proofs of their consecration to Rome along with their appeal, which as I noted earlier, was refused by the Apostolic Signature.)

    Chonak has also omitted to mention the key factor in all of this: the accusations of heresy against the hierarchy. His (her?) claim that the declarations of these Ukrainian Catholic priests/bishops are “canonically absurd” is itself absurd, but it would be slightly less absurd if he had not covered up in his posting the basis and the extreme gravity of the situation which brought forth the declarations. Perhaps he is unaware that in the history of the Church, excommunications of bishops by other bishops on account of heresy are firmly founded in law and were perfectly common in the early Church (if not since); unsurprisingly, in view of the abdication from the Faith by so many bishops in the Arian heresy, and such other major heresies as Nestorianism, etc.

    According to Chonak, “orthodoxy” does not mean “right believing” but “right worshiping,” the absurdity of which can be seen in any dictionary. Perhaps this is indicative of his apparent lack of concern for right belief, i.e. orthodoxy.

  26. chonak says:

    I wasn’t stating my definition of the English word “orthodox”, Vincent. I was clarifying that their name UOGCC does not express a similarity to the Orthodox churches, because there are two different Ukrainian words involved.

    The excommunications would be absurd even if the UOGCC’s accusations of heresy were all true, because no one but the Pope has authority to judge a bishop guilty of an ecclesiastical offense. I hope this helps clarify a couple of points.

  27. Vincent Ferrer says:


    “I wasn’t stating my definition of the English word “orthodox”, Vincent. I was clarifying that their name UOGCC does not express a similarity to the Orthodox churches, because there are two different Ukrainian words involved.”

    I don’t follow your point here. Do you know Ukrainian? What are the two words involved? Why are they both translated the same if they are different?

    As for heresy, it isn’t a question of authority over ecclesiastical offenses. It is a question of refusing communion with heretics, who condemn themselves by their contradiction of Church teaching. This is the teaching of Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, and of the Popes. In the case of Nestorius, the people refused to recognize him as bishop after he began preaching his heresy, before the case was judged in legal manner by the Pope, who fully approved of and confirmed what the people had done. This is presented by St. Robert Bellarmine (Doctor of the Church). No, if anything is absurd, it’s maintaining that heretics can be members of the Church. St. Thomas teaches that heretics hold no authority in the Church. Likewise with those who approve of unnatural crimes that cry out to heaven for vengeance. These people (e.g. Wuerl and Lubomyr Husar) obviously don’t believe in St. Paul (cf. Epistle to the Romans ch. 1) any more than they believe in the Real Presence, or anything else Catholic.

  28. chonak says:

    Vincent, the UOGCC website’s list of publications contains the documents by which they purported to proclaim thousands of bishops excommunicated and “anathema”: for example, a statement dated 5/24/2010 lists hundreds of Latin-rite bishops of the Americas. (Video of the leaders reading out the list is on the site too: see their videos for April and May 2010.) By that declaration, they were attempting to usurp a jurisdiction that belongs to the Pope.

    As for the two Ukrainian words, you don’t have to believe me; just check their websites: Ukrainian Orthodox churches use the word “???????????” (pravoslavnya), while the UOGCC’s website contains the word “??????????” (pravovirnya). I mentioned this distinction lest anyone might think that the movement is aligned doctrinally with the Eastern Orthodox churches. Instead, the movement claims to be defending Catholic doctrine.

    Yet already the group is defining itself as “beyond the jurisdiction of the Vatican”. In an April 2, 2012 public statement to Cdl. Levada, they defended their use of the name “Catholic” by citing a bunch of other denominations doing so:

    The word “Catholic” is found in the names of about 20 Churches which are beyond the jurisdiction of the Vatican. In no way is it to be considered as illegitimate. Example: Old Catholic Church (established 1871), Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada (1968), Evangelical Catholic Church (1976), American Catholic Church in the United States (1999) …

    That is: the UOGCC defends itself by citing the example of heretics — including trivially small sects devoted to condoning immorality! The movement is descending from tragedy to farce.

  29. chonak says:

    Alas, the Cyrillic letters in my comment don’t seem to have been processed intact. You may read the Wikipedia article about the UOGCC and see the name issue discussed; the Cyrillic words display correctly there.

  30. Vincent Ferrer says:


    Are you the author of the Wikipedia article on the UOGCC? It appears so. There is no reference in the article for the issue of the different words used, so we have only your (presumably) word for it. Also, it appears that you do not know the significance of the difference either (as opposed to mere conjecture on your part), so I wonder why you make an issue of it. What concerned me was the clear implication of your words above:

    “The word translated as “Orthodox” in their English name does not mean “orthodox” as in “Orthodox Church”. Rather, it means “right-believing”, not “right-worshipping””

    This is confused, but if it means anything, it means that “orthodox” (the English word) does not mean “right-believing.” It also means that “orthodox” in “Orthodox Church” would mean “right-worshiping.” Both of which are absurd. What you really seem to be saying is that the Ukrainian name for what is known in English as the “Orthodox” church (i.e. schismatic) does not really mean “orthodox”, i.e. “right-believing,” and therefore is mistranslated. Would you agree with that? I appreciate that you are trying to differentiate the UOGCC from the schismatics, but that’s perfectly evident from their repeated insistence that they are Catholics, and subject to legitimate Catholic authority.

  31. Vincent Ferrer says:


    On the substance of this issue, which is the question of heresy, you seem determined to defend heresy while seeing heresy only where it does not exist.

    The only question that matters here is whether Cardinal Husar, or Cardinal Levada, or Cardinal Wuerl, etc. etc. are or are not heretics. On this, you remain entirely silent.

    On the other hand, the word “heresy,” otherwise absent from the vocabulary of Vatican II apologists, is brought out against those who accuse heretics of heresy. The words of the “heretics” are examined under the microscope. Unfortunately, the speck you claim to find is not there (in fact, it’s not in the CDF declaration either, so I wonder where you get the right you deny to others), and so you must have recourse to falsifications. A word is read into a statement that neither says nor implies it. You say “Yet already the group is defining itself as “beyond the jurisdiction of the Vatican”.” But they use that phrase (“beyond the jurisdiction of the Vatican”) not about themselves, but about the other groups using the word Catholic in their name. When speaking of themselves, they say that they are “bishops of the Ukrainian orthodox Greek-Catholic Church who fall within the jurisdiction of the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate.” They also say, “UOGCC accepts the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. ” Whatever their point about the use of the word “Catholic,” by heretical groups, which they don’t explain, and which I may or may not agree with, your attempt to take this out of context and pretend that it’s a rejection of papal authority is vicious, and I might add, absurd.

    I want to make it clear, in case anyone else is reading this, that I am not, per se, a defender of the Pidhirci group nor do I judge whether or not it is entirely within the bounds of Catholic principles on every single point. No, the issue here isn’t this tiny group, but the truth of what they are saying. That won’t be determined by baseless assertions by prejudiced persons or their apologists. The issue is not some obscure people in Eastern Europe, but some very big people, in some very big places. The hypocrisy and heresy of these people is what aroused the justified outrage of some people on this blog and elsewhere. They are all too visible. Too bad you are completely blind to them.

  32. chonak says:

    Of course, Vincent, your suggestion is offensive and false. I haven’t addressed the particulars of UOGCC’s accusations of heresy even once in my comments above, so your suggestion that I “seem determined to defend heresy” is baseless.

    The Pidhirtsi fathers’ usurpation of the episcopacy makes them unfit to complain about other clergy’s doctrinal errors. Usually I would be attentive to such complaints, but when the Pidhirtsi fathers expand their complaints to accuse virtually every Catholic bishop in the world, and the Pope himself, of heresy, then their credibility starts to suffer.

    In the end, they resorted to schism. Schism is a crime even worse than heresy, because heretics even within the Church eventually die and their influence fades; but schism is rarely healed.

    Vincent, to verify that the UOGCC’s term “orthodox” is not the same as that of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches, just look at their respective Ukrainian-language websites and read the Cyrillic lettering. It’s right there.

  33. Vincent Ferrer says:

    You defend heresy by your silence, as well as by false accusations of heresy against those who denounce heresy (thus assisting that heresy), in accordance with their sacred duty as Catholics and priests, under Catholic law.

    No, schism isn’t a worse crime than heresy; it’s the other way around. Heresy includes schism. A heretic is divided from the Church by both belief and obedience; a schismatic is divided only by obedience. (Of course, I am not granting there is any schism at issue here.)

    Thus, you are misled when you write “heretics even within the Church.” That is a contradiction. A heretic is one who has departed from the Church by rejecting her Magisterium, her teaching authority. (That is true of one who publicly reveals his heresy; an occult heretic, one who exteriorly acts like a Catholic, remains in the Church.) As St. Athanasius said to the faithful, orthodox remnant who refused to recognize the authority of heretical bishops, “They have the buildings, we have the faith.” The Church is where the faith is. That is exactly the situation today.

    Why talk about credibility? The accusations are based on publicly known facts. The facts in the Wuerl case are also publicly known. “Fitness” has nothing to do with it. Actual schismatics (“Eastern Orthodox”) make accusations against Catholics. Those accusations must be examined in light of the facts. The “unfitness” of the accuser has no relevance.

    You say that you would usually be attentive to complaints of heresy. I would be interested to see something you have published that would be an instance of that; or, of course, any occasion on which you have pointed out anyone’s heresies (there is no shortage of material these days). If your concern for heresy is sincere, there must be some such instances.

  34. chonak says:

    Thanks for your comments, Vincent, but this thread is about the UOGCC, not me. I feel no need to prove my sincerity to some anonymous guy on the Internet. If you want to write about a heresy case, do it on your own blog. Maybe you can accomplish something constructive that way.

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