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February 22nd, 2014

Popular Roman Catholic Media Attacked Married Clergy

Rob Stothard/Getty Images

Ukraine, you might know, is in the middle of a revolution. The people are protesting the government’s tyranny and corruption. The Ukrainian government is responding by torturing and killing the citizens in a scorched earth policy. Numerous images of fearless priests standing between the government soldiers and the citizens, holding nothing but the cross of Christ as they call for peace, have gone viral. These images capture the manly and fatherly call of the shepherd willing to lay down his life for his flock.

The majority of the Ukrainian Catholic priests are young and married as they come from a life-filled and fruitful church, built on the blood of the martyrs. Ours is a church that has always had both celibate and married men ordained to the priesthood, a tradition whose continuance the UGCC assured when they entered reunion with Rome.



Patriarch Sviatoslav, the head of the largest Eastern Catholic Church, gave clear directions to his priests on how they’re to conduct themselves amid this revolution. His Beatitude affirmed their presence on the Maidan and their call for peace, saying, “The calling of each priest, in all frightening circumstances – is not to abandon his flock and to be with them. ‘The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ‘ (Jn 10:11). Setting aside all fear, a priest is called ‘to be a witness to Christ and His truth.’ ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mt 24:35).”

In the mean time, Fr. Robert Barron’s popular Roman Catholic catechetical and evangelization ministry Word on Fire published a photo of one of these fearless Ukrainian priests as an accompaniment to the specious argument that a mandatory celibate priesthood is supposedly “non-negotiable” for Catholics.

As a reason given to defend this novel assertion, the blog explained: “To give a dire example, in the case of a catastrophe, I would want my priest to be at the front of the lines leading his flock to shelter. If the priest had a biological family of his own, he would first think of their safety before his flock as the natural instinct would drive his protector reaction towards sheltering his own.” They accompanied this assertion with the image of a Ukrainian priest who is most likely married as their model, on a day when married priests are literally standing between their flocks and death and many faithful lost their lives.

Word On Fire Blog Image

Image from Word on Fire blog

Not only did the blog writer appear not to know that the pictured priest was Eastern and probably married, he taught that the man’s marriage undermines and invalidates his priesthood. An outcry erupted from both East and West which led to the ministry apologizing for the use of that image, but after hundreds of messages, the requests for revision of the text remained unacknowledged and the blog post stood. The silence was interpreted by many to indicate the apparent approval of the ministry’s leader Fr. Barron for this attack on married clergy; an attack so poorly formed that it likewise undermined the sacraments of marriage and ordination, the call of vocation, and manhood, not to mention the obvious attack on the unity of the Church and the Body of Christ. That the Word on Fire ministry has a history of removing the East from it’s catechesis allowed their silence and continued support of the offensive and erroneous assertion done in their name to show how far we still have to go to leave behind the legacy of Roman Catholic Bishop John Ireland.

Fr. Roman Galadza and Family

The witness of the courageous priests in Ukraine, married and celibate, proves the blogger’s notion to be nothing more than a straw man. The Lord calls each man to his vocation–whether celibacy or marriage–and the church calls these men to ministry so transformational that they are given sacramental grace in their ordination to carry it out, as we so boldly witness in the images from the Maidan and in the loving and faithful presence of our own beloved priest and his family.

We stand in solidarity with all the married Catholic clergy and their families here in DFW, in Ukraine, and around the world. We thank the priests’ wives for sharing in their husbands’ ministries. We thank their children for being an image of the Lord’s fruitful love. We pray for the safety of all in Ukraine especially those so nobly working for peace. And we pray for unity here at home and throughout God’s Church, so that we may rejoice together in God’s plan of salvation.

Our prayer for unity was answered and we have cause for rejoicing. After this commentary was published, the Word on Fire blog post was also removed because of the sustained outcry of the faithful from across the universal church. Word on Fire explained:

Thank you for all of your feedback regarding the ignorance and error in our post titled ‘Why I Don’t Want Priests to Marry’. We regret the content, which contained some theological errors, and we also regret using a photo of a Ukrainian Catholic priest, for obvious reasons.

We’ve removed the post and the photo. The mistake was an oversight and a regrettable lack of attention to detail, and was not meant to insult any priest or any rite, most especially those who are standing in harm’s way to protect their flocks. Our most sincere apologies for any offense this photo caused. We certainly continue to pray for that priest and for all priests.

We thank all who publicly shared their support for our priests and their communities, both married and celibate. Please continue to join us as we pray for our courageous priests and their families who sacrifice their lives day in and day out for our salvation.

Update 2:
Word on Fire blog published a follow-up article about Ukraine: The Icon Corner of the World written by Andrew Summerson, a married seminarian for the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, Ohio. Please express your appreciation to them!

I Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

February 19th, 2014

What’s going on in Ukraine?

– AP photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

– AP photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

“I appeal to everyone to immediately stop the bloodshed,” Patriarch Sviatoslav admonished. “I call all the children of the Church to fasting, prayer and solidarity with victims. At this moment, when Ukraine is in danger of fratricide, let all the bells in the UGCC churches ring,” he said.

Specifically he stated,”Each night at 9 p.m. [which is 1 p.m. Central], pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the intention for a peaceful and nonviolent resolution to the crisis in Ukraine.”

We especially invite the community to join us at St. Sophia parish in our prayers for peace in the world this Saturday morning from 8 AM – 12 PM in our Morning with Mary.

“With a worried soul,” Pope Francis has “been following what is happening in Kyiv in these days,” Vatican Radio informs. The Holy Father assured the Ukrainian people of his closeness to them, and prayed for the victims of violence, for their families, and for the injured.

Where can you find out more?
Religious Information Service of Ukraine
Information Resource of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
Ukrainian American Society of Texas
Euromaidan in English page on Facebook
Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine article by Timothy Snyder
Decoding Ukraine article by Anne Applebaum
National Review Online coverage by George Weigel
Bishop BORYS (Gudziak)’s Facebook coverage
Espresso TV Live Streaming Video
BBC News Europe Coverage

February 8th, 2014

A Morning with Mary – Come Join Us!

Our Lady Of Fatima

February 2nd, 2014

Popcorn and a Movie with Sr. Ann and the Women of Spirit

Sunday February 23, 2014 – All are welcome!
Viewing and discussion with the film’s producer: Sister Ann Laszok, OSBM

10 AM: Divine Liturgy (Mass) fulfills the Sunday obligation
11:30 AM: Potluck for Meatfare Sunday
12 Noon: Popcorn and Movie with Sr. Ann

St. Sophia Ukrainian Catholic Church
5600 N. Colony Blvd The Colony, TX 75056

About Women of Spirit:
100 years ago, Bishop Soter Ortynsky, the first Eastern Catholic bishop in the United States, had a congregation of half a million people, many orphans among them, and he needed help. Bishop Soter reached out to the Sisters of St. Basil in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Women of Spirit is the story of how they answered the call by coming to America to minister to the needs of the faithful. Their struggles and challenges in sharing their knowledge of God, through serving and loving the people, are recounted through the stories of many of the older sisters who knew the early pioneers personally.

Women of Spirit: The Sisters of St. Basil the Great in the USA is a riveting story that attests to the impact of the catechetical and academic education of thousands of children through the leadership of the Sisters of St. Basil. The film follows the sisters through their coming to America, heeding the call, ground-breaking, life-giving and healing ministries, the influence they had and continue to have on the United States and Ukraine, and their ongoing catechesis, collaboration, and work in the Church. Humorous and deeply personal recollections and interviews by former students (among whom are bishops, priests, sisters, doctors, lawyers, and teachers) add to the total beauty and warmth of the movie.

Plan to bring friends and invite the family to attend Popcorn and Movie with Sister Ann and the Women of Spirit at St. Sophia parish in The Colony on Sunday, February 23, 2014 around 12 Noon after the 10:00 AM Divine Liturgy/Mass. All are welcome to the potluck and the movie!

December 21st, 2013

2013 Christmas Epistle of His Beatitude Sviatoslav

This is an unofficial translation by Royal Doors and is presented until such is promulgated.
To the Son, eternally and immaculately born of the Father,
Who—in the fullness  of time—was born bodily, without seed, from a Virgin,
Let us cry out to Christ-God: Holy are You, O Lord,
Who fortified our strength!
(Canon of the Nativity).

Christ is born!

Icon of the NativityAt the voice of the angel, calling to the shepherds in the dark of night, let us now hasten to the poor stable in Bethlehem. Here we see in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s arms the Son of God, who came into our world as a man. Together with them, let us rejoice and marvel; let us sing and contemplate the living and true God, who—born in a human body—gives Himself into human hands as a small, gentle and defenceless child.

Our Saviour’s Nativity reveals the depths of Divine life as well as the truth about man. He—who today appears in human flesh—existed before the creation of the world, for—as God before all ages—He is eternally and immaculately born of the Father as a son! This is the ineffable and incomprehensible mystery of Jesus Christ’s divine sonship which today is revealed and preached to all mankind. This feast makes the divine sonship accessible for all through the proclamation that God the Father loves us as his sons and daughters. In His new-born Son, we experience today our nearness to God. We experience the same warm, powerful, real and life-giving intimacy which is the Father’s intimate affection for His first-born.

Gazing into the faces of the Divine Child and His Mother Mary, let us grasp the truth the Nativity teaches us about our humanity and of His humanity, which is a sign of God’s presence: “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). This child—the God of Israel, Who—in the fullness  of time—was born bodily from a Virgin without seed. He bestows upon Joseph the Betrothed, the wonderful role of guardian. At the Nativity of Christ, we receive the Eternal God in our own form. For people rightly desire to be cared for and here in Bethlehem, God himself—as a child—is the one caring for the human family!

Humaneness—as a sense of and respect for the sanctity of human life—is a moving and saving path along which—on this mysterious night—the Son of God, the Son of Mary, comes to our homes, to our families, to our nation. And this divine-humanity—the God-Manhood of Incarnate Son of God—gives us a Christmas path to follow in order to love God and neighbour. By celebrating Christmas with travellers and the homeless, or in solidarity with those who are despised and whose dignity is denied, we, Christians, as true guardians and evangelists of God’s presence among us, make our world, our society more humane and dignified for man himself.

The birth of the Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, reveals along with the greatness and glory of our God, the Creator and Saviour, the greatness and glory of man as the crown of all creation. In His Incarnation, God reveals the special dignity of man, because He is incarnated in it—that is to say, in his own image. St. Irenaeus of Lyon says: “When the Word was made flesh… He Himself became what His image was… making man like the invisible Father through the visible Word” (Adv. Haer., 5, 16, 2).

Glorifying the dignity of the human person, Christ’s Church today sings out: “Let us cry out to Christ-God: Holy are You, O Lord, Who fortified our strength!” Just as the coming to earth of the Son of God through the Incarnation became the centre of world history, similarly the dignity of the human person is the foundation for a true and indeed humane society. The Church teaches that social institutions and their leaders must respect each human person and their prime duty is to promote the holistic growth of each person. The person can never be a means for the realization of economic, social or political agendas imposed by secular authorities. Rather governments must be vigilant when placing restrictions on freedoms or burdens on a person’s private life to never harm human dignity (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, § 131-133).

There is no future for a society in which man is demeaned. The dignity of the human person is the source for just laws and equitable social order. For in the human person the temporal and eternal, the divine and human, are united. Humanity is the door to eternity opened on Christmas Day by the Son of God’s humanity. So celebrating the Nativity means to keep open the doors of our hearts to human dignity, especially of the weak and defenceless, as was the Divine Child Himself in the arms of the Virgin Mary.

Today once again Ukrainian society is striving to build its future on the foundation of the Christian faith. The new-born Saviour is the fulfilment of the hopes of all mankind for the coming of God’s kingdom—a kingdom of justice, peace and goodness. The birth of the eternal King of Peace was announced by the angel, when he said to the shepherds: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour” (Lk 2:10-11). This historic moment is important to us, for the word of the Evangelist proclaims that Christ Himself is the source of our joy and the end of our fears! In the Nativity of Christ, may our anxiety be transformed into hope, may confusion and uncertainty be directed along the path that leads to the place of our Lord’s birth. On this Christmas Day, when, according to the apostle Paul, the power of God was made manifest in human weakness (cf. II Cor. 12:9), our sense of powerlessness is turned into a realization of our self-worth. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, this realization of our self-worth becomes a force that will enable us to build a society worthy of man. That is why today we glorify the power of the divine-humanity, singing: “Holy are You, O Lord, Who fortified our strength!”

Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic ChurchDearly beloved in Christ! On this joyous feast day of Christ’s Nativity, I wish all of you my sincerest greetings. I wish for you goodness and peace, harmony and health. I desire to knock on the door of every Ukrainian family! With the sound of ancient carols, I wish to cheer every Ukrainian heart! Announcing the great joy of our Saviour’s birth, I want to gather around Bethlehem’s stable all of our church—both in Ukraine and abroad— into one community of God!

Today let us feel like one Christian family in which our Saviour is born. Along the path of humanity and Christian solidarity, we can touch all who defend their own dignity, the dignity of their family and their nation! Let us share our Christmas joy with those who are far from home, in hospital beds or prison bunks. Together, guided by the light of the star, let us make ​​haste towards our neighbours in order to see in the flesh—the Invisible One; in His poverty—the Source of all goodness; in His weakness—the Almighty, as the new-born Christ-God in the embrace of the Theotokos.

Christ is born!

Let us glorify Him!

Given in Kyiv,
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
19 December 2013,
on the feast day of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, the Wonderworker