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June 23-27, 2001    
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Questions and Answers on the Papal Visit to Ukraine


Q: When is the papal visit?
A: The Pope is due to arrive in Ukraine on June 23 and depart on June 27, 2001.

Q: Why is the Pope coming to Ukraine?
A: The Pope has been invited to visit by the government of Ukraine and by the Catholic bishops of the country. He wants to strengthen and support the Catholic community in their faith and help foster good relations with other religious confessions in Ukraine.

Q: Where will the Pope travel to on the trip?
A: The Pope will visit two cities: Kyiv (Kiev), the capital, and Lviv, a city in western Ukraine that has a large Catholic population and is the headquarters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Q: Who are the Catholics in Ukraine?
A: The two largest Catholic groups are the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (also referred to as the Ukrainian Catholic Church and sometimes by the term "Uniate" which is derogatory) and the (Latin-Rite) Roman Catholic Church.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has nine eparchies (dioceses) and more than six million faithful in Ukraine. It observes the same Byzantine traditions as the Orthodox Church and has a high degree of autonomy but is part of the Catholic Church and is in full communion with the See of Rome. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was officially dissolved by the communist government of Ukraine in 1946 and was subjected to harsh persecution. But it survived underground until religious freedom was reestablished in 1989.
There are four Roman Catholic dioceses and one apostolic administration in the country with a total membership of about 870,000.

Q: Who is the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church?
A: The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is Lubomyr Cardinal Husar,
Major Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians and Metropolitan of Halych. He was born in Lviv in 1933 and spent many years of his youth in the United States. He was elected head of the church in January 2001 and became a cardinal in February 2001. He is normally addressed as "Your Beatitude."

Q: In general how does the Ukrainian Catholic Church differ from the Roman Catholic Church?
A: The Ukrainian Catholic Church is one of the autonomous ("sui iuris") Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the Catholic Church. Since the Ukrainian Church first received the gospel from Byzantium in the 10th century, it shares its spiritual, canonical, theological and liturgical heritage with the Orthodox Churches. The Ukrainian Catholic Church

  • -elects its own bishops within its canonical territory
  • -celebrates the sacraments according to the same Byzantine rite that the

Orthodox churches use

  • observes distinctive fasting rules
  • follows its own liturgical calendar
  • confers the sacraments of chrismation (confirmation) and first communion to children or adults at the time of their baptism,
  • can ordain married men to the diocesan priesthood.

Q: What is the population of Ukraine? What percentage is Catholic?
A: The official estimate of the population of Ukraine in July 2000 was 49,153,027. Catholics make up about 14% of the population.

Q: Who are the Orthodox in Ukraine and what is their relationship with the Catholic Church?
A: About 50% of the Ukrainian population is Orthodox Christian. Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has fostered a positive attitude towards the Orthodox. The Catholic Church recognizes the sacraments celebrated in the Orthodox Church, allows her faithful under some circumstances to receive those sacraments, and rules out efforts by Catholics to make converts among the Orthodox (an activity called proselytism). Pope Paul VI referred to the Orthodox as being in "almost perfect communion" with Catholics, and Pope John Paul II has called for unity with the Orthodox as a way of enabling the Church to once again "breathe with her two lungs" of the East and West. An official international theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church met for the first time in 1980, and most recently in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in July 2000.
In Ukraine the situation is complicated by internal divisions among the Orthodox. After the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine in 988, the historic city of Kyiv was considered the religious center among the Eastern Slavs, but in later centuries the Orthodox of Ukraine became a part of the Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate). When Ukraine became independent in 1991, however, many Orthodox Christians wanted to form a Ukrainian church that would be separate from the Russian Orthodox Church. This resulted in the formation of two churches that broke with Moscow: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyivan Patriarchate (headed by Patriarch Filaret Denisenko) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox church that remains linked to Moscow is headed by Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan. Out of respect for canonical traditions regarding the communion of Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church has an official dialogue only with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church linked to Moscow. The Ukrainian Catholic Church is developing cordial relations with the other two Orthodox Churches in Ukraine.

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