Unauthorized Episcopal Consecrations in Ukraine
News is now spreading of the consecration shortly before March 23 -- Easter Sunday according to the Gregorian Calendar -- of four Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests as bishops, without being nominated by the Major Archbishop of Kyiv and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, and without receiving the necessary Papal blessing.The UGCC has issued a communique condemning the consecrations. Strangely enough, secrecy and uncertaintly currently cover the identity of the consecrating bishop, and there are questions over whether this bishop was a real, validly consecrated bishop in the first place.This comes a little more than four months after the excommunication of Fr. Basil Kovpak, founder and head of the Society of St. Josaphat (SSJK), a Ukrainian Greek Catholic society of priests which is currently associated with the Society of St. Pius X. Fr. Kovpak was excommunicated by Cardinal Husar for attending the ordination of two SSJK priests and five SSJK deacons by SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson.While the two events do not seem to be related, both have their roots in the same controversies now shaking the UGCC. In their Open Letter to the Holy Father the new "bishops" profess filial devotion to Rome while justifying their consecration as a necessary action in the face of the alleged modernism and hyper-ecumenism of the current Major Archbishop. In particular, they denounce the Balamand Agreement of 1993, which rejected Uniatism as a model for the future. They also condemn what they consider to be the "schismatic" and "apostate" attitudes of the Cardinal Husar and of the UGCC hierarchy, as well as the negative attitude being shown within the UGCC to Latin devotions such as the Rosary, Way of the Cross, Devotion to the Sacred Heart, etc. The letter also alleges that theological modernism is beginning to pervade the UGCC and even speaks of its "practical schism" from the rest of the Catholic Church. The letter, thus, reveals a theological and spiritual position nearly identical to that of the SSJK.These consecrations seem to be the latest sad chapter in the theological and liturgical debates currently besetting Ukrainian Greek Catholicism (as well as certain other Byzantine-Rite Catholic Churches). In a nutshell, the debates revolve on whether the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church must return to a purely Byzantine liturgy and theology and should attempt to be as close to Eastern Orthodoxy as possible (even sharing the same theology -- a position that Cardinal Husar has publicly endorsed while expressing his belief in the necessity of communion with Rome), or whether it must keep the "traditional" Latinizations of UGCC liturgy and spiritual life, and focus on emphasizing its distinctively Catholic identity vis-a-vis the Orthodox Church.More analysis of this event can be found here.