Bishop Richard Stephen of the St. Nicholas Eparchy      Patriarch Sviatoslav of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church      Bishop Kevin Vann of the Fort Worth Diocese      Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Dallas Diocese      Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome
February 14th, 2016

Patriarch Sviatoslav on the Meeting of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Below are excerpts from an interview with Patriarch Sviatoslav on the topic of the Cuban meeting of Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. The full interview can be read in English here and in Ukrainian here. The joint declaration the two issued and on which Patriarch Sviatoslav is commenting can be read here.

Firstly, I would like to say something about the meeting of the Holy Father with Patriarch Kirill, and then I will comment on the text of the declaration.

One notices immediately, especially from their comments after the meeting, that the two sides existed on two completely different planes and were pursuing different goals. His Holiness Pope Francis experienced this encounter primarily as a spiritual event. He opened his remarks by noting that we, Catholics and Orthodox, share one and the same Baptism. In the meeting, he sought out the presence of the Holy Spirit and received His support. He emphasized that the unity of the Churches can be achieved when we travel together on the same path. From the Moscow Patriarch one immediately sensed that this wasn’t about any Spirit, or theology, or actual religious matters. No common prayer, an emphasis on official phrases about “the fate of the world,” and the airport as a neutral, that is, non-ecclesial environment. The impression was that they existed in two parallel worlds. Did these two parallel realities intersect during this meeting? I don’t know, but according to the rules of mathematics, two parallel lines do not intersect.

Speaking of the signed text of the Joint Declaration, in general it is positive. In it are raised questions, which are of concern to both Catholics and Orthodox, and it opens new perspectives for cooperation. I encourage all to look for these positive elements. However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the UGCC raised more questions than answers.

It was officially reported that this document was the joint effort of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) from the Orthodox side and Cardinal Koch with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the Catholic side. For a document that was intended to be not theological, but essentially socio-political, it is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities. This was exploited by the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is, first of all, the instrument of diplomacy and external politics of the Moscow Patriarchate. I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.

In general, I would like to say that paragraph 26 of the Declaration is the most controversial. One gets the impression that the Moscow Patriarchate is either stubbornly refusing to admit that it is a party to the conflict, namely, that it openly supports the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and, by the way, also blesses the military actions of Russia in Syria as a “holy war,” or it is appealing first of all to its own conscience, calling itself to the same prudence, social solidarity, and the active building of peace.

Nonetheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this Declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for Church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a Joint Declaration text. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is a matter of our faith. It is to him, Pope Francis, and to each of us today, that Christ says in the Gospel of Luke: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

November 26th, 2013

Patriarch SVIATOSLAV in Rome

On Nov 25, 2013, Patriarch SVIATOSLAV led a solemn Pontifical Divine Liturgy at the altar of the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the transfer of the relics of St. Josaphat, martyr for Church unity.

Speaking fluently in the pope’s native Portuguese, Patriarch Sviatoslav greeted Pope Francis by saying, “Vostra Santità, vi presento la Chiesa Ucraina Greco-Cattolica, una Chiesa Patriarcale.” “Your Holiness, I present to You the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, a Patriarchal Church.”

St. Josaphat (Kuncevych) was a Basilian monk and archeparch (archbishop) of Polotsk who lived from 1580 to 1623, which meant he faced the daunting task of bringing the local populace to accept the Union of Brest which declared the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church’s union with Rome. St. Josaphat faced stiff opposition from the monks, who feared a Latinization of the liturgy of the Church. As archeparch, he restored the churches: he issued a catechism to the clergy, with instructions that it should be learned by heart; composed rules for the priestly life, entrusting to the deacons the task of superintending their observance; assembled synods in various towns in the dioceses, and firmly opposed the Polish Imperial Chancellor Sapieha who wished to make too many concessions to the Eastern Orthodox. Throughout all his strivings and all his occupations, he continued his religious devotion as a monk, and never abated his desire for self-mortification. Through all this he was successful in winning over a large portion of the people.

St. Josaphat’s activity provoked a strong reaction. A rival hierarchy was set up by the Orthodox Church, with a monk being appointed the Orthodox Archeparch of Polotsk. Smotrytsky publicly claimed that St. Josaphat was preparing a total Latinization of the Church and its rituals. The inhabitants of Mogilev revolted against the saint in October 1618 and chased him out of the city. St. Josaphat then complained to King Sigismund who brutally suppressed the Orthodox revolt—all leaders of the revolt were executed by the king and the rival Orthodox churches were taken away and given to the Greek-Catholics.

The suppression caused the saint to be even more fiercely resisted by the Orthodox. During November 1623, despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk. There, on November 12th, the Orthodox sent to his residence a priest who stood in the courtyard of his house shouting insults like “uniate” at him. The archbishop had the priest taken away and confined to his house. In response, the town bell was rung, which summoned a mob of Orthodox Christians who rejected union with Rome. The mob attacked the archbishop’s residence, and in the course of the attack an axe-stroke and a bullet ended his life. His body was tossed into the river. It was recovered and honored, eventually transported to Rome and given the honor of burial within St. Peter’s Basilica. It was on the 50th anniversary of this transfer that Patriarch SVIATOSLAV visited Rome and held a solemn pontifical liturgy at the altar where St. Josaphat is buried. Over 3,000 pilgrims from Ukraine and Belarus were in attendance.

Pope Francis addressed the pilgrims by saying, “The memory of this martyred saint speaks to us about the communion of saints, of the communion of life between all of the people who belong to Christ.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, the best way to celebrate St. Josaphat is to love among each other and to love and serve the unity of the Church. We are supported in this also by the courageous witness of so many martyrs of recent times, which constitute a great wealth and a great comfort for your Church.”

“I hope that the deep communion that you wish to strengthen each day within the Catholic Church, will help you build bridges of fraternity also with other Churches and ecclesiastical communities in Ukrainian land, and wherever your communities are present,” the pope concluded.

Patriarch Sviatoslav St Josaphat Transfer Rome Nov 2013

Some text adapted from Wikipedia’s article on St. Josaphat under it’s creative commons license.

July 6th, 2013

Eastern Catholics Communing in a Roman Mass

Just in time for your summer travels! Those of you traveling to areas where the priests aren’t familiar with Eastern Catholicism can now print off a guide that hits all the important points about Eastern Catholic faithful communing in Roman Catholic parishes.When Eastern Catholics Commune at a Roman Catholic Mass Front

Questions answered include:

  • What should Eastern Catholics do when visiting a Roman Catholic Mass?
  • Is the Eastern Catholic held to western rules when in the Latin Church?
  • What happens when the norms contradict each other?
  • Does it contradict the Latin rite’s liturgical norms to commune an infant?
  • Is a person who is under the age of reason properly disposed to receive?
  • May the priest apply prudential judgment if he thinks the visitor is significantly lacking in knowledge or understanding of the Eucharist?
  • What if the congregation might be scandalized by a child receiving?
  • What makes an Eastern Catholic properly disposed to receive?
  • How can the Eucharist be administered to an infant or toddler?

We hope it will assist many–clergy, religious, and laity of East and West alike–in greater appreciation and participation in the universal nature of the Church. We encourage you to share it far and wide online and in person!

The pamphlet is the first major work of The Star of the East, a canonically established public association of the faithful, headquartered at St. Sophia. The Star of the East has a primary mission of disseminating reliable and orthodox material from appropriate and competent authorities to Eastern Catholic clerical, religious, and lay leaders on the topics of evangelism, catechesis, and missiology.

We want every Catholic to have free access to this meticulously accurate, easily comprehensible guide and we put in all the work to make that a reality. All that needs to happen now is to have it shared!

You can direct others to the St. Sophia website to see more about it, or to download and share the fantastic resource.

This pamphlet is offered under an “Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives” Creative Commons license. That means others may download and share the pamphlet as long as the author/publisher is attributed, it isn’t used commercially or for profit, and isn’t changed in any way. Using 2-sided printing, it fits on a single 8.5″ x 11″ paper.

March 18th, 2013

Patriarch Sviatoslav on Pope Francis

Patriarch Sviatoslav speaks highly of Pope Francis:


Patriarch Sviatoslav: Newly elected Pope knows Ukrainian Catholic Church, its Liturgy and Spirituality

RISU correspondent in Rome Oksana Shkodziska took the commentary of Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk about newly elected Pope Francis.
13-03-2013. Source RISU
Patriarch Sviatoslav With Pope Francis From RISU

“I would first like to say that the newly elected Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil who is now buried in the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome. Today’s Pope, during his time as a student of the Salesian school, awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr. Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.

The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine. I asked him to bear witness to the process of beatifying Fr. Stepan Chmil, to which, he gladly agreed. The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality.

Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy. Our Eparchy in Argentina is, let’s say, suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires. In this way, Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help. Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.

In regards to the personality of the new Holy Father – he is an incredibly modest person. For example, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he never relied on his own automobile, rather relying on public transportation, always in simple clothing. He mostly stands out in his enormous care for the less-fortunate, visiting the most impoverished neighborhoods. He is a person, I would say, of great pastoral foundation.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is an incredibly deep intellectual. I can attest to the fact that his homilies are quite short, sometimes no longer than five or six sentences, but he manages to fill them with such deep meaning, always leaving the faithful in silent contemplation upwards of five-to-seven minutes”.
(Translation by Julian Hayda)

January 13th, 2012

Roe Memorial Events

Roe Memorial Events – January 21, 2012
On January 21, 2012, Dallas will mark the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s tragic Roe v. Wade decision of January 22, 1973, legalizing abortion in America and leading to the death of over 50 million unborn children.  Roe v. Wade started here, and what started in Dallas must end in Dallas.  Come and be a voice for LIFE!

7:30 a.m.: Buses at the Cathedral are boarded for the Roe Memorial Rosary to be prayed with Bishop Mark Seitz outside the Routh Street abortion center, 4321 Central Expwy., Dallas.

10:00 a.m. Roe Memorial Mass:  In memory of the more than 52 million babies who have died and in prayer for the mothers and fathers who have been hurt by abortion, a bilingual Mass will be concelebrated by the Most Reverend Kevin J. Farrell, Bishop of Dallas; Auxiliary Bishops of Dallas Mark Seitz and Doug Deshotel; the Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Fort Worth; and diocesan clergy at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 2215 Ross Ave. at Pearl St., Dallas, with homilist Fr. Jason Cargo and music led by Curtis Stephan.

10:00 a.m. Alternative: Praise & Worship Service at First Baptist Dallas, 1707 San Jacinto.

12:00 p.m. Dallas March for Life and Ecumenical Rally: The Dallas March for Life begins at downtown Cathedral Plaza, 2215 Ross Ave. at Pearl St., proceeds to First Baptist Dallas, 1707 San Jacinto, and continues to Rally outside the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse where Roe v. Wade was first filed in 1970.

1:45 p.m. Pro-Life Ministry Fair at First Baptist Dallas.

Bishop Farrell would like for as many families and young people as possible in the diocese to participate in this great witness for Life!  Bring your family-friendly signs and club or school banner for the Dallas March for Life!  For more information, visit or call 972-267-LIFE (5433).

November 19th, 2011

Roman Catholics reflect on the East’s Spiritual Treasures and Venerable Traditions

Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, the National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer (a Roman Catholic apostolate) reflected on Pope Benedict’s prayer intention for this month:

“For the eastern Churches, that their venerable tradition may be known and appreciated as a spiritual treasure for the entire Church.”

November 1st, 2011

Pope’s General Prayer Intention

The pope’s prayer intention for November 2011:

“For the eastern Churches, that their venerable tradition may be known and appreciated as a spiritual treasure for the entire Church.”