What's in a Name? (continued)After WW I, our people in Galicia followed Eastern Ukrainians and began using an ancient nickname for our nation of Rus', namely Ukrayina, and called themselves Ukrayintsi (Ukrainians). Thus, we came be the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Interestingly, our brethren on the southwest side of the Carpathian Mountains kept the ancient nomenclature, Ruthenians, and identified themselves with the Transcarpathian region, where one can drive form Uzhhorod to Slovakia in 15 minutes, to Hungary in 30 minutes, and to Romania in 70 minutes. To get to L'viv, one had to drive at least six hours and cross the treacherous Carpathian mountain passes. Imagine what that was like before cars! Thus the Transcarpathians, not surprisingly, found it more convenient to identify with their multi-ethnic regional neighbors than with the Rusyns who had switched to a new-fangled name - Ukrainians.
To disassociate themselves from ethnic Greeks, the Transcarpathian people chose, ever more frequently, to use the term "Byzantine," that referred to a liturgical tradition. So, (Galician) Ruthenian Greco-Catholics became "Ukrainian Catholics", while those from Transcarpathia became "Byzantine Ruthenian Catholics". In time many dropped the name Ruthenian, and called themselves "Byzantine Catholics." With their own Metropolia in the United States, they became the first self-governing Eastern Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere.
Ukrainian Catholics, however, feeling Ukraine's very existence threatened, chose to remain closely associated with the Church in Ukraine rather than seek autonomy as a U.S., Canadian, or North American Church. Some even feared inordinately that the Byzantine Catholic Church, centered in Pittsburgh, would try to gain control over Ukrainian Catholics and others who used the Byzantine liturgical tradition (Romanians, Melkites, etc.) Whenever a Ukrainian Catholic parish identified itself as "Byzantine" or "of the Byzantine Rite" some of our people responded with apprehension, bordering at times on the irrational.
Because the very existence of the Ukrainian people was indeed threatened, the general acceptance of the "Ukrainian Catholic" name seemed to be a triumph to many members of this long suffering nation and Church. At last, many thought, this is a guarantee the Ukrainian people will not be wiped from the face of the earth. With the staggering loss of more than 20 million Ukrainian lives from unnatural causes in the 20th century due to wars, persecutions, and man-made famine, it was not an unfounded fear though more trust in God would have been desirable.
When the Church in Ukraine emerged from the underground and sought to re-establish ownership to thousands of church properties confiscated by Stalin and given to the Moscow Patriarchate or converted to secular uses, it had to revert to the Greco-Catholic name, since that was its name on the old real estate deeds. Some enemies of the Church tried to claim the pre-World War II Greco-Catholic Church had ceased to exist and that the Ukrainian Catholic Church was a new creation of the Vatican in the 1960's. I personally witnessed many such foolish, but threatening debates in Ukraine in 1990 and thereafter.
This is how we again became the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church. In this transition, we sought explicit ties to the Church of the Martyrs in Ukraine to help our Mother Church and, in turn, receive her help with immigration of new faithful and clergy from Ukraine. Our bishops, meanwhile, began thinking about our Church's name. From a theological viewpoint, calling it Ukrainian was not correct, for it implicitly excluded anyone not ethnically Ukrainian. A Church for just one ethnic group cannot be a Christian Church. Jesus commanded us: "Go and make disciples of all nations..." We would not be good Christians if we closed our doors to non-Ukrainians. The only legitimate way to keep our ancient Christian identity and the treasures of our religious tradition, was to do so in a way that shared the riches of the faith. We are a Church that came from the Ukrainian people, but a Church that is open to all people, no matter their ethnicity.
Accordingly, our Bishops have been seriously examining alternative names for our Church that focus on the name of the ecclesiastical see that is the center and identifying mark of our Church. That is the Church of Kyiv. Just as we do not refer to the Italian Church, but rather to the Church of Rome, or to the Church of Constantinople vs. the Turkish Church; just as the Patriarchate of Moscow is the correct name for the Orthodox Church in Russia, so we are the Church of Kyiv, in full, visible communion with Rome and Western Catholics.
That we are the Church of Kyiv is clear. It was the Metropolitan of Kyiv and the bishops of the Kyivan Metropolia that re-established communion with Rome in 1596. The more difficult part is how to express the rest of our identity for that part of the Church of Kyiv now in full, visible communion with the Church of Rome. Various alternatives have been examined: The Kyivan Catholic Church, The Kyivan Church of the Catholic Communion, The Kyivan Ecumenical (in Ukrainian: "Vselens'ka") Church, The Orthodox-Catholic Church of Kyiv, to name but a few.
One thing is certain. We cannot go on officially calling ourselves the Ukrainian Church, because that is heretical. We must embrace the entire Christian heritage established under the rule of St. Volodymyr in Kyiv. We cannot accept the Muscovite theory that after the 1240 Mongol devastation of Kyvian Rus', the Church of Kyiv moved north and became the Church of Moscow and that it is now the "Mother Church" of the Kyivan Church that it claims we re-established much later, after a period of "emptiness" in the South. The Church of Kyiv, established in 988, has never ceased to exist. In 1596, a large part of the Church of Kyiv re-established the unity of the first Christian millennium. We are that part of the Church of Kyiv. We retain the treasures of more than a thousand years of the Christian tradition of the Rus'-Ukrainian people, but we also welcome all who can find their way to God through our way of worshipping and theologizing, and our individual and corporate spirituality and way of ordering our church life. The martyr Church of Kyiv is from the Ukrainian people, but it also serves all who seriously embrace this Church's Holy Tradition and want to live out that Tradition, whether in Ukraine or any other land on God's earth.
Zdanie komentarza - pogląd, jakoby samo użycie terminu "ukraiński" w nazwie było "heretyckie", uważam za przesadzony. Heretycka może być (ale nie musi) interpretacja tego terminu. Np. gdy termin ów wyprowadzimy z faktu, że terytorium własne UKGK leży w granicach kraju/państwa pn. "Ukraina" (a tak jest!) - trudno zaiste się przyczepić, bo w czym gorsze jest oznaczenie geograficzne terytorium od oznaczenia geograficznego Pierwszej Stolicy? Podobnie, gdy powiążemy przymiotnik "ukraiński" z obrządkiem (sensu largo) - określenie UKGK jako tego z Kościołów greckokatolickich, który wyróżnia sie akurat ukraińskim wariantem obrządku bizantyjskiego, jest wg. mnie najzupełniej ortodoksyjne. Nb. w prawosławiu standardem jest nazywanie Kościołów autokefalicznych czy autonomicznych wg. kraju, w którym dany Kościół się znajduje - i wcale nie musi to prowadzić do herezji filetyzmu. Polski Autokefaliczny Kościół Prawosławny jest tu klasycznym przykładem.