September, 1997


His Beatitude, Miroslav-Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky

and the Fathers of the Holy Synod

L’viv, Ukraine



Your Beatitude, and dear Fathers:


Slava Isusu Xristu!


We welcome the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches as we would any instruction of our Fathers which conveys the intention of assisting the faithful to strive for holiness and to increase in charity.


At the same time, we wish to bring to the attention of the Holy Synod certain conditions in North America which may seriously interfere with a correct, prudent and fruitful application of the Instruction.


A growing body of Eastern Catholic faithful are becoming increasingly aware of and concerned about two currents of opinion and practice within the Ukrainian Church in North America.


On the one hand, there are those who exhibit what may best be described as an intemperate affection for things and practices Orthodox, especially (but not exclusively) as pertains to the Divine Liturgy.


On the other, there are those (among them not a few young priests, having imbibed the innovations of neo-Modernism from education in Latin Rite seminaries) who would continue naively to welcome in our Church many similar misapplications of reform introduced to the Western Church for the past 30 years, mutatis mutandis.


There are, thank God, a significant number of priests and laymen whose first priority remains to save souls by the grace and Gospel of Jesus Christ and who will avail themselves of any ready and moral assistance to this end. Nonetheless, the innovative opinions and practices of the two above mentioned groups have been the cause or at least the condition for a disturbance in the peace among the faithful.


Meriting grave concern is the incursion of neo-Modernism to our Church, transferred by contact with Western Catholics (primarily through the education of our priests in Latin seminaries and

institutions), the borrowing from dangerous Latin catechesis for our children, as well as from the new scholarship and from defective Latin liturgical and scriptural translations.


If or whenever some corrections involving modifications to our public prayer and devotional practices are needed, we expect those practices incompatible with our Eastern tradition to be expunged first which have most recently been introduced. There is a common term for this in the United States, used by businessmen: “Last in, first out”. In other words, what has most recently been introduced to our liturgy, catechesis (et cetera) should be the first expunged. This certainly pertains to innovations of neo-Modernist influence from the Latin Rite in the past 30 years.


There is a sense in which these times mark a more or less defining moment for the Ukrainian Church. On the one hand, there is the great opportunity for the Eastern Churches to act as the bridge of reconciliation between Orthodoxy and the Holy Roman See. On the other hand, the effect of 30 years of experimentation, innovation and aggiornamento in the Western Church has left the Church there weakened and in need of restoration. The Eastern Churches have been spared much of the same trouble, and have been a kind of refuge for so many (both Byzantines and former Latins) seeking the strength of orthodox Catholicism practiced authentically.


We hope that the Fathers of the Holy Synod are aware of similar potential consequences and, moreover, that You wish only to avert such misapplication. We therefore humbly submit the attached points for Your consideration at the Holy Synod with the hope that they will assist You in exercising the pastoral discipline required of our pastors in the application of the Instruction.


We submit these points from the point of view of the faithful, clergy and lay, who, thanks be to God, have accumulated years of experience in our particular professions, apostolic work, state in life and as active Ukrainian Catholics. We have very carefully studied the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. It is our sincere hope that each and every implementation of this document will assist souls attain to greater states of perfection.


Accordingly we are praying for and requesting that the Holy Synod do the following:


(1) Make only those changes in practice (whether liturgical, catechetical or otherwise) which will more readily assist souls to attain to the perfection of holiness. Historically this has occured, in liturgical matters, organically, not juridically. Under the present circumstances, following upon years of innovation and experimentation in Catholic practice in the West, it seems most reasonable to avoid artifical changes.


(2) Consider whether proposed changes or modifications meet the standard of pastoral prudence under the present conditions which we have described.


(3) Wholesome practices introduced by custom and by centuries of inculturation should not be disturbed. (For example: retain and encourage devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Rosary and recover the recitation of the Jesus Prayer. Confer nos. 6 & 7 in section IV of the attached points.)

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