"...for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."

-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical "Mortalium Animos"

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Nec Plus, Nec Minus, Nec Aliter: A Brief History of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church and the Russian Catholics"

The following article was excerpted from the website of the The Society of St. John Chrysostom of Ayatriada Rum Katoliki Kilise: http://rumkatkilise.org/necplus.htm
By Reader Methodios Stadnik

Copyright, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005 All Rights Reserved.
(This is an abridged version of a more detailed work in progress)

The following is a brief summary of the history of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church. For more detailed information, please consult the works listed in the Select Bibliography at the end of this history.

(An introductory note on terminology-- We tend to describe ourselves using a shorthand reference as Russian Catholics and we refer to our church as the Russian Catholic Church. Properly speaking, we should refer to ourselves as Russian Orthodox who are in communion with the Church of Rome, because we are Orthodox in our entire liturgical and spiritual practice according to Holy Tradition of the Byzantine Church and the spiritual traditions of Russian Orthodox Church. The liturgical and spiritual practices of the Russian Orthodox Church and of some of its sister churches may be referred to more generally as the Byzantine-Slavonic Rite, i.e., the Byzantine liturgical and spiritual tradition as received by and adapted to the needs and use of the Slavic peoples. For purposes of the following essay on the history of our church we shall refer to it as the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church and to the members thereof as Russian Catholics.)

The Russian Byzantine Catholic Church traces its institutional origin back to the second half of the nineteenth century in Russia where the philosophy of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900)had fostered an active debate and interest among various circles of intellectuals in the notions of the universality of the church and Church unity.

It should be noted that when Christianity came to Kievan Rus in 988 A.D., the new Russian Church, following the Byzantine tradition brought from Constantinople, was in full communion with the Holy See of Rome. The events of 1054 did not cause any immediate rupture between the See of Rome and the Russian Church; rather there was a gradual drift apart. Indeed, contact between Rome and Moscow continued. The Russian Church was represented at the Council of Florence in 1439 by Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev and several other Russian clergy. The Russian bishops signed the Act of Union at the Council and they declared the union, which was warmly received by their people, throughout their territories as they returned to Moscow.

Metropolitan Isidore and his retinue arrived in Moscow on March 19, 1441, and on that same day celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Ascension in Moscow and promulgated the Union before Tsar Basil II and his court. Four days later, Tsar Basil, motivated by a somewhat xenophobic and nationalistic desire to control the Church and to exclude foreign influences from his domain, had Metropolitan Isidore arrested. However, Isidore managed to escape to the west, apparently with the collusion of Tsar Basil himself. Although the Union was not formally upheld by Tsar Basil or Metropolitan Jonah, whom Tsar Basil appointed as Metropolitan Isidore's successor, it continued to live in the hearts and souls of several Russians and other subjects of the Tsars.

After this time, there were always some Russians who were in communion with the Holy See, albeit small in number and hardly organized. Among these, there were the isolated instances of Russians who chose to become Roman Catholics (Princess Elizabeth Golitsin, Fr. Dmitri Golitsin, S.J.--the "Apostle of Western Pennsylvania"--and Fr. Ivan Martiniov, S.J.,) or those who, retaining their Russian Orthodox tradition, suffered for their belief publicly (Blessed Deacon Peter Artemiev).

However, the more enduring presence was that of the "Starokatoliki," who derived in large part from the supporters of the Servant of God Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev and who were augmented from time to time by the descendants of Greek Catholics from the western parts of Russia, who had been sent into internal exile in the Urals, North Caucausus, or Siberia. Surviving for long periods without benefit of Byzantine Catholic clergy, these believers preserved and nourished as family traditions both their Russianness and their communion with the Holy See. In some respects, these families provided one of the several diverse sources of fertile soil upon which the seeds of Soloviev's thought would flower and bring forth fruit.

According to Soloviev's reasoning, the Russian Orthodox Church is separated from the Holy See only de facto (there was no direct formal breach between the Sees of Rome and Moscow), so that one can profess the totality of Catholic doctrine and be in communion with the Holy See while continuing to be Russian Orthodox. Soloviev was received into communion with the Holy See as a Russian Byzantine Catholic on February 18, 1896 by Fr.Nicholas Tolstoy, the first Russian Byzantine Catholic priest (see below). Soloviev's thought had a profound impact on several generations of Russian society and inspired such later thinkers as Fr. S. Bulgakov, Fr. P. Florensky, Fr. G. Florovsky, N. Berdyaev, L. Karsavin, the poet V. Ivanov, and one could even include Fr. A. Men, among others.

As a result of Soloviev's thought a movement began among various intellectual circles, spanning the aristocracy, the intelligentsia, the growing middle class and later spreading as well amongst farmers and workers, that led various Russians to seek to be in communion with the See of Rome. At first they did this by being received into the Roman Catholic Church, but this solution left all but a few of them thirsting for the spiritual richness of the Byzantine Slavonic tradition.

This tendency began to change as the nineteenth century began to draw to a close. In 1893, Fr. Nicholas Tolstoy, a Russian Orthodox priest, was received into communion with the See of Rome and was incardinated in the Melkite Catholic church. He returned to Moscow and a small community began to form around him. A few years later, it was he who received Vladimir Soloviev into communion with the Holy See. Larger numbers of like-minded individuals began to form circles and communities in St. Petersburg and Moscow and among them were a number of Russian Orthodox clergy, as well as some Russian Old Ritualist or Old Believer priests.

Decisions by these groups of people were taken to enter into communion with the See of Rome and to form themselves into more formal communities and this,was undertaken under the moral protection in part of Prince Peter and Princess Elizabeth Volkonsky and Mlle. Natalia Ushakova, who had influential connections with the authorities. In St. Petersburg, an upper floor room was rented at ul. Polozovaia 12 and outfitted as a chapel and the first priests of the St. Petersburg community, Fr. Ivan Deubner, Fr. Alexander Zerchaninov, and Fr. Eustachios Susalev (the third, a Russian Old Ritualist priest received into communion with Rome) began to hold regular services. The Divine Services were celebrated either according to Russian synodal form or to the Old Ritual, depending on which priest was officiating. In Moscow, Fr. Tolstoy's community began to form around the family of Vladimir and Anna Abrikosov and a chapel was set up in their home.

On May 22, 1908 Fr. Zerchaninov was appointed the Administrator of the Mission to the Russian Catholics. The decree from the Vatican Secretariat of State appointing him specifically states: "Therefore His Holiness commands the aforementioned priest Zerchaninov to observe the laws of the Greek-Slavonic Rite faithfully and in all their integrity, without any admixture from the Latin Rite or any other Rite; he must also see that his subjects, clergy and all other Catholics, do the same."

Subsequently, this command to observe strictly the Russian Orthodox Church's rituals and spirituality was confirmed during an audience with Pope Pius X attended by Mlle. Ushakova.

In response to Mlle. Ushakova's inquiry whether the Russian Catholics should hold firmly to their Russian synodal and Old Ritualist practices, or adapt these to the more "latinized" Galician liturgical forms, Pope Pius replied that the Russian Catholics should adhere to the synodal and Old Rite practices with the now famous response in Latin: "nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter" (no more, no less, no different). This principle continues to be observed by the Russian Catholic communities today.

The first public Divine Liturgy was celebrated, in St. Petersburg, on 29 April 1909 (Pascha, or Easter, on the Julian Calendar) by these three priests. The choir was made up of amateurs. After the Liturgy, they agreed with Fr. Susalev's idea to send the following telegram of Paschal greetings to the Czar:

"On this radiant day of Pascha, the Russian Old Ritualists in communion with the Holy See address their prayers to God for the prosperity of Your Imperial Majesty and His Highness the Grand Duke and Heir."

A cordial response was soon thereafter received from Baron Vladimir Fredericks, Minister of the Court; this response was prominently displayed in the chapel and for some time police harassment abated. In April 1911 Minister Stolypin sent a legal authorization, thanks to the intervention of Mlle. Ushakova. In 1912, the St. Petersburg chapel was moved to ul. Barmaleieva 2 because more space was needed for the growing community.

It should be noted that at this time it was illegal to be Russian and Catholic of the Byzantine rite in Russia, and this remained the case technically after the 1905 Decree on Religious Toleration. The presence amongst the early Russian Catholics of a number of Old Ritualists, whose tradition was recognized by the 1905 Decree, enabled the communities to begin to organize and function. Nonetheless, these communities were often hounded by the police and the priests and members occasionally arrested.

In spite of these difficulties, the Russian Catholics firmly believed in their faith and their goals of achieving church unity among the separated Catholic and Orthodox sister churches, keeping in mind Soloviev's view that the separation of the Russian Orthodox Church from the Church of Rome was only a de facto separation and therefore it was possible to be Russian Orthodox in spiritual practice and be in communion with the Church of Rome. Government harassment abated for a few years, but the communities continued to be monitored and occasionally harassed.

As one would expect in a thriving spiritual community, and the Russian Byzantine Catholic communities were indeed thriving even under the difficult conditions under which they functioned, persons were drawn to the religious life. To meet the needs of the Moscow community, Vladimir Abrikosov was ordained a priest on May 19, 1917 in order to serve them. He and his wife had taken vows of chastity in preparation for entering the monastic life. Anna Abrikosov, who had organized a religious community for young women under simple vows along the lines of a Dominican Third Order, became its leader as Mother Catherine.

A young man named Leonid Feodorov, who grew up in the midst of intellectual ferment of Soloviev's circles in St. Petersburg, made his way to L'viv and later to the West in order to study for the priesthood. Early on, the movement in Russia, inspired by Soloviev, had attracted the attention of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky (1865-1944), the leader of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church and he took a special interest in fostering and aiding the Russian Catholic movement and in the training of young Leonid. Upon completion of his studies abroad, his ordination, and his monastic tonsure (all punctuated by visits back to his mother and the community in St. Petersburg), Fr. Leonid returned permanently to St. Petersburg in 1913 whereupon he was promptly arrested for his association with Metropolitan Andrew and was sent into internal exile in Tobolsk until March, 1917.

In Saratov, a small community of Russian Catholics developed from the ministry of Fr. Alexander Sipiagin who had been working as a professor of natural sciences there after his reception into communion and ordination. Later, under the guidance of Bishop Pie Neveu, Fr. Alexi Anisimov and his entire parish in, Saratov were received into communion.

In June 1918, Fr. Patapios Emilianov and his entire Old Ritualist parish with nearly 1,000 members (828 adults!) at Nizhnaja Bogdanovka (200 kms. from Makieievka in the Don region) declared themsleves to be in communion with Rome. They had approached and been received by Metropolitan Andrew.

A movement toward union with the Holy See had also arisen amongst the Georgians. Many of the Georgian Byzantine Catholic priests and laity were to suffer side by side with the Russian Catholics in the maelstrom that was about to descend upon them all.

The First World War and the ensuing Russian Revolutions of March and October, 1917 followed by the Civil War brought upheaval for all in Russia, and the by now several thousands of Russian Catholics were no exception. The fall of the Czarist government in the March Revolution and subsequent grant by the Provisional Government of religious rights to all enabled the Russian Catholics to establish themselves and organize more formally. Metropolitan Andrew, due to the vicissitudes of the war, happened to have been a prisoner under house arrest in Russia at the time. The Provisional Government freed him and he was able to make his way to St. Petersburg to join the community for its first public Paschal celebrations. He convened the first sobor or council of the Russian Catholic Church during Bright Week 29-31 May, 1917 (the week after Pascha or Easter) which met for several days and adopted a set of 68 canons to govern and administer the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church. Fr. Leonid Feodorov was appointed officially as this Church's first Exarch.

St Petersburg, May 30, 1918--Feast of Corpus Christi--Photo shows Exarch Leonid and his clergy who were gueests at the celebration of their Roman Catholic brethren. This was the last public procession which the Soviet regime permitted in St. Petersburg (from Osipove, I, "Se il mondo vi odia..." Milan, 1997)

For a few months the new Church experienced some measure of relative peace and growth amid the chaos that was developing around it. At first, after the October Revolution little changed, but soon the full brunt of the Communist oppression was visited upon the all of the Churches in Russia and the Russian Catholics were no exception.

In January 1923, Exarch Leonid (photo above) was arrested and tried along with several of his clergy and several Roman Catholic priests. He served out his prison term of ten years under the extremely harsh conditions of the Solovky prison camp, a former monastery on the White Sea in Northern Russia, together with many of his clergy and with several bishops and priests of the Russian Orthodox Church. Reports from some survivors of Solovky prison in those days reported that Exarch Leonid was, even under those harsh conditions, active in the cause of church unity. With Exarch Leonid in Solovky were some of his clergy, several Roman Catholic priests, and the Georgian Byzantine Catholic exarch, Fr. Shio Batmanishvili.

The clergy imprisoned at Solovki contrived to set up a chapel and to celebrate the Divine Liturgy whenever possible under the strained conditions of the camp. For a period they were even allowed by the camp authorities the use of the chapel of St Germanus on Sundays.

Their zeal and ingenuity in doing so was truly remarkable and is underlined dramatically by an event which took place in the camp in 1928. Roman Catholic Bishop Boleslaw Sloskans was sent to the camp and soon after his arrival he ordained a young man, Serge Kasipinski, to the diaconate and later to the priesthood for the Russian Byzantine rite. A second Russian Byzantine Catholic, Donat Novitski, was soon thereafter also ordained a Russian Byzantine Catholic priest in similiar fashion. Exarch Leonid in the exercise of the special authority granted him, had already ordained both young Serge and young Donat to the subdiaconate in the camp.

Prayer and vocations flourished in the camp and were an inspiration to, and in some instances a source of conversion for, the other prisoners. Most of the reports concerning the Russian Catholic clergy and laity in the gulags reveal the same zeal and fortitude, with the clergy ministering to any other prisoners who sought their help and arranging secret liturgies when possible. It is also reported that several of the Orthodox clergy fellow prisoners with whom Exarch Leonid discussed church unity in the prison acknowledged that they could accept communion with the See of Rome upon the terms and under the understanding as explained by Exarch Leonid.

Ironically, while this systematic persecution was being carried out, the Moscow City Archives reveal that a Russian Byzantine Catholic parish--not that of the Abrikosovs--was legally registered by the Moscow Soviet in 1927. This community appears to have been different from the parish organized by Fr. Serge Soloviev, a relative of the celebrated philosopher, who was appointed Vice-Exarch for the Russian Byzantine Catholics in 1923. These parishes managed to function for several years under extreme conditions of harassment and surveillance. Vice-Exarch Serge was arrested on February 15, 1931.

An "illegal" monastery dedicated to Saint Peter was also organized in Moscow during the early thirties and functioned in the catacombs under the direction of Archbishop Bartholomew Remov, a former member of the Holy Synod who had secretly entered into communion with the Holy See. In the course of 1935 the NKVD "uncovered" the monastery and Archbishop Bartholomew and its members were arrested and tried; Archbishop Bartholomew was sentenced to death, his monastics sentenced to prison terms.

Upon completing his prison term, Exarch Leonid, as a convicted felon under Soviet law, was subject to internal exile and hence could not return to St. Petersburg, Moscow or other major cities. He spent his final years in failing health in the little hamlet of Viatka and fell asleep in the Lord on March 7, 1935, a true confessor of the faith.

Several of the other Russian Catholic clergy perished in prison, were executed, or died under mysterious circumstances. Some were able to flee to the West. On August 17, 1922 Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov was arrested, tried and sentenced to death, which sentence was commuted to perpetual external exile. He was expelled from Russia and, after some months in Rome, he settled in Paris. A year later, Mother Catherine and several of the sisters of her community, along with Fr. Nicholas Alexandrov, who had been serving the Moscow community after Fr. Vladimir's expulsion, were likewise arrested.

While imprisoned, Mother Catherine contracted cancer and under the harsh conditions of prison life, her health soon deteriorated and she succumbed to the disease. Some of the Abrikosov children were able to flee to the West to join their father. The few sisters who had not been arrested, together with the sisters who survived their prison ordeals, upon their release, remained behind and organized a Russian Catholic catacomb community in Moscow that has survived to this day.

The other communities in Saratov and Bogdanovka experienced similar fates. In October and November 1937, the greater part of the Russian Catholic clergy and faithful, together with the Georgian Byzantine Catholic, Armenian Catholic, and Roman Catholic clergy and faithful still being held in Solovki (photo above of Solovki monastery prison), were executed together with thousands of Orthodox, Protestant and Jewish clergy and faithful in one of the largest mass executions carried out in the gulags at Sandormoch and Leningrad.

The Russian Catholics who left Russia did so alongside their Orthodox brethren and along the same routes east, west and south. Hence, they were to be found in all the centers of the Russian diaspora: Harbin and Shanghai, Istanbul, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Rome, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, London, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal.

Gradually, parishes were organized in the diaspora. In Harbin, a Russian Catholic catechism was published in 1935 by Fr. S. Tyshkiewich, one of the pastors of the Harbin community. The communities in Harbin and Shanghai soon faced new threats with the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese and later the rise of the Chinese Communists. Some moved to Hong Kong and Australia, some moved to Argentina; one large group moved to the Los Angeles area and established St. Andrew's Russian Catholic Church in El Segundo, CA.

In 1927 the Russicum, the Pontifical Russian College, was established to train clergy for the Russian Catholics in the diaspora and in order to have priests to work in Russia for those who remained in Russia at such time as priests would be allowed in to serve those communities. The emigre Russian Catholics continued to be active in the intellectual circles of the Russian emigre communities as well as in those of their new homelands.

Prince and Princess Volkonsky and Julia Danzas, activists in the St Petersburg community, were active in the Paris Russian emigre community. In Brussels, Mlle. Irina Posnova founded the "Zhizn s Bogom" press of Foyer Oriental Chretien. Viacheslav Ivanov, one of the leading poets in modern Russian literature, was a disciple of Soloviov's and was received into communion with the Holy See by Fr. Zerchaninov. A friend of Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov, Ivanov was active in Paris and in Rome, where he taught at the Russicum.

Helena lzwolsky (photo above), the daughter of a former Czarist diplomat and Sorbonne graduate, was widely known in the intellectual circles of Paris and New York; a member of St Michael's, she served on the faculty of Fordham University, was the author of several books and articles and was an editor of the journal "The Third Hour". Helena was a friend of both Dorothy Day and Catherine de Hueck Dougherty, both of whom frequented the Russian Byzantine liturgy at St. Michael's in New York.

Exarch Leonid was succeeded as exarch by Fr. Kliment Sheptitsky, brother of Metropolitan Andrew. Exarch Kliment, who has been posthumously honored by the State of Israel for his aid to Jews during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine (photo below), died in a Soviet prison in 1951.

To meet the needs of the Russian Catholics throughout the world, an ordaining bishop has been appointed, beginning in 1936 with the consecration of Bishop Alexander Evreinov. He was succeeded in 1958 by Bishop Andrei Katkov. Bishop Andrei served for several decades in this postion. Perhaps the high point of his career was his invitation as an official guest of the Moscow Patriarchate to visit Russia in August and September 1969, during which trip he was accorded all the respect and honor due a bishop by his Russian Orthodox episcopal hosts.

Patriarch Alexei I himself personally presented a "Panaghia"(symbol of the Episcopate) to Bishop Andrei. Shortly thereafter, on December 16, 1969 the then Metropolitan Alexei of Tallinn, now Patriarch Alexei II, acting as Director of Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, announced the Sacred Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church's decision to admit Catholics to receive communion in Russian Orthodox churches (this decision was subsequently rescinded several years later). Bishop Andrei reposed in the Lord in September, 1996. At the time of writing, the Russian Catholic faithful around the world are anxiously awaiting the consecration of Bishop Andrei's successor.

Bishop Andrei Katkov at St Michael's in New York

Fr. Andrew Rogosh, a Russicum graduate, was sent to New York City in 1935 to minister to the Russian Catholics there. In 1936, St Michael's Russian Catholic Church opened its doors and has been serving the Russian community in New York and their supporters for over sixty years.

One of the many confessors of the faith with which the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church is especially blessed was Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.. Fr. Walter was born in 1904 in Shenandoah, Pa, where he grew up. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1928. He experienced what he described as "almost a direct call from God" to volunteer for the Russian mission in response to Pope Pius XI's appeal. He was the first American Jesuit to be ordained in the Russian Byzantine rite in June 1937. He was assigned to the Byzantine mission parish in Albertyn in eastern Poland (now in Belarus) under Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Fr. Walter found himself within the Soviet zone of occupation.

On March 19, 1940 Fr. Walter (photo on right) entered Russia proper with a group of Polish refugees, together with two of his Russian Byzantine Jesuit priest colleagues, hoping to be able to minister to their needs and those of any Russians who might request his aid. A year later he was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to fifteen years hard labor. After an initial five years of solitary confinement in Lubianka prison in Moscow, he was sent to the Siberian slave-labor camps above the Arctic Circle, part of the infamous Gulag Archipelago.

In 1947 Fr. Walter was declared "legally dead" back in the US. In 1955 he was released from prison and was given restricted freedom in the USSR. He functioned as a priest while working in factories and as an auto mechanic in various Siberian cities. In 1963 together with another American citizen, he was exchanged for a Russian couple being held for espionage in the US.

Upon returning to the US, Fr Walter served as a member of the John XXIII Center for Eastern Christian Studies at Fordham University in New York. He wrote two books about his experiences, "With God in Russia" and "He Leadeth Me". He became an internationally known director of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. During the last eight years of his life he was afflicted by a severe heart condition and arthritis, but still served as spiritual advisor to many persons, including a community of Byzantine Carmelite nuns in Sugarloaf, PA. He died at the John XXIII Center on December 8, 1984. Fr. Walter was a friend and spiritual father to many at St. Michael's and our community is honored to have had Fr. Walter celebrate the Divine Liturgy with us on several occasions.

The late Fr. Pietro Leoni who served the Russian Catholic parish in Montreal until his death had a similar experience to that of Fr. Walter. Assigned as a chaplain to an Italian military hospital that was sent into the occupied southern zone of the former USSR, he first was able to work in the Catholic parish in Dnepropetrovsk. Upon his release from military service in 1943, he went to serve a Catholic parish in Odessa. He was arrested in 1945 and held in Soviet prisons and labor camps, were he continued his apostolate as best he could, until his release in 1955.

The catacomb communities that formed in Leningrad, Moscow, and other places throughout the former USSR around the survivors of the original Russian Catholic communities, and those spiritually minded persons who were inspired by the obdurate faith of the Russian Catholics, survived as best they could. Clandestine priests of either rite would serve them when possible. Many priests were ordained in the catacombs and gulags by Ukrainian Catholic and Russian Catholic bishops also being held prisoner and would circulate and serve the communities whenever they could. As a result of this catacomb existence and the restrictions on internal movement of former gulag inmates, several new communities arose throughout the former USSR, particularly in Siberia and Kazakhstan in the smaller cities (e.g., Tobolsk, Obdursk, Krasnodar, Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk, Karaganda) where former gulag inmates (both clergy and lay people) were sent to live in internal exile.

Under the circumstances the catacomb clergy often attend to the spiritual needs of not only Russian and Ukrainian Byzantine Catholics but of Roman Catholics as well. These new communities, and our parish in Moscow as well as the "Spiritual Dialogue Club" (the continuation of the tradition of the Abrikosov's circle maintained by Sr. Nora Robashova) in Moscow, our parish in St. Petersburg and those in what is now Belarus (e.g., Minsk, Mohiliov, Homel, Brest) are a tribute to the faith and zeal of the Russian Catholics and should be an inspiration to all those who believe in Jesus Christ.

The fruits of their labors have led to a rebirth of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church in the Russian Federation, despite many obstacles and continuing repressive efforts by outside parties in both nations. Parishes have arisen in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Omsk, and several towns and cities in Asian Russia, and a new spirit can be seen in the communities of the diaspora, where an upsurge of membership has been seen in many communities and new parishes have been established. The first two exarchs of the Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, Exarch Leonid and Exarch Kliment, were beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Ukraine, and the causes of many of our other witnesses to the faith are progressing. If the blood of martyrs be the seed of the Church, we look to more flowering in the years to come.

Some Russian Byzantine Catholic Witnesses to Christ's Love Throughout History (date of repose in the Lord indicated where known; most listed here are martyrs and/or confessors of the faith):


Metropolitan Isidore of Kiev - 1385- 1463

Deacon Peter Artemiev - 30 March 1700 (an early Russian Catholic martyr)


Fr. Fabian Abramtowicz - 2 January 1946

Fr. Vladimir Abrikosov - 22 July 1966

Mother Catherine Abrikosova - 23 July 1936

Hieromonk Fr. Igor Akulov - 27 August 1937

Fr. Nicholai Aleksandrov - 29 May 1937

Fr. Alexei Anisimov - February 1931

Vladimir Balashiev - sentenced 19 May 1924, fate unknown

Sr. Catherine (Aleksandra) Balashieva - sentenced 12 September 1927, fate unknown

Sr. Eupraxia (Catherine) Bashkova - arrested 3 January 1927, fate unknown

Fr. Alexander Bilianewicz - arrested 20 August 1935, fate unknown

Anna Brilliantova - 3 November 1937

Viktoria Burvasser - 20 May 1931

Natalia Cherep-Spiridovicz - arrested 8 July 1919, fate unknown

Fr. Paul Chaleil - 22 September 1983

Catherine Cicurina - arrested 2 February 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Walter Ciszek - 8 December 1984 and his companions, Frs. Makar and Nestrov - fates unknown

Sr. Justina (Julia) Danzas - arrested 17 November 1923, released to exile, died in Rome 13 April 1942

Fr. Ivan Deubner - 12 November 1936

Fr. Patapios Emilianov - 14 August 1936

Exarch Leonid Feodorov - 7 March 1935

Fr. Vendelin Javorka - 24 March 1956

Fr. Leonid Jurkewicz - arrested 26 May 1929, fate unknown

Fr. Serge Karpinski - arrested 19 May 1924, ordained in Solovki prison, fate unknown

Fr. Jan Kellner Brinsko - 7 July 1941

Nina Kenarskaya - arrested 26 April 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Vladimir Klepfer - 4 May 1936

Fr. Boleslaw Lash - arrested I December 1937, fate unknown

Fr. Pietro Leoni - 26 July 1995

Fr. Jerzy Moskwa - 7 July 1941

Fr. Donat Novitski - arrested 16 November 1923, ordained in Solovki prison, died in Poland 17 August 1971

Fr. Victor Novikov, Exarch for Siberia, arrested 23 June 1941, died 1979 in Belebej

Fr. Deacon Anton Pastushenko - arrested 31 January 1933, died 1941

Archbishop Bartholomew Remov - condemned to death 17 June 1935 and shot in Butyrki prison

Fr. Joseph Romanjuk - last arrested 21 September 1935, fate unknown

Sr. Nora Rubashiova - arrested twice, spent 23 years in gulags

Fr. Andronikos Rudenko - arrested 20 August 1935, died in prison 12 May 1951

Alexander Rumjanchov - arrested 28 October 1929, fate unknown

Fr. Stefan Sabudzinski - arrested in 1929 and again in 1937, thereafter probably shot, fate otherwise unknown

Fr. Nicholai Schepaniuk - 27 February 1937

Exarch Kliment Sheptitsky - 1 May 1951, died in prison

Vice-Exarch Serge Soloviev - 2 March 1942

Liubov Shorcheva - arrested 21 February 1935, fate unknown

Fr. Vladimir Shtepa - 15 May 1938

Leonid Titov - arrested 30 January 1934, fate unknown

Fr. Nicholas Tolstoy - 4 February 1938

Fr. Alexander Vasiliev - arrested 15 February 193 1, died by 1944

Fr. Alexander Zerchaninov - 1933

Sr. Hyacintha (Anna) Zolkina - arrested 1941, fate unknown

Archbishop Alexander Evreinov - 1959

Bishop Paul Meletiev - 19 May 1962

Bishop Andrei Katkov - 18 September 1995

Fr. Deacon Victor Boldireff - 1996

Fr. Michael Ott - 1997

Fr. Anton Ilc - 1 August 1998

Irina Posnoff, December 1997

Georgian Byzantine Catholics who suffered and died in the gulags:

Exarch Shio Batmanishvili - 1 November 1937

Fr. Emmanuel Vardidze - 25 March 1936

Fr. Konstantin Separishvili - 13 Sept 1937

Fr. Makar - Jesuit priest, companion of Fr Walter Chiszek, S.J., arrested 1941, fate unknown

Armenian Catholics who suffered and died in the gulags:

Fr. Akop Bakaratjian - February 1936

Fr. Stepan Erojan - 3 November 1937

Fr. Ter-Assen Ter Karapetian - 8 December 1937

There are countless other Russian Byzantine Catholics, lay and clergy, who have suffered for their belief in Jesus Christ from 1893 to the present, especially the martyrs at Sandormoch and Leningrad in 1937.

There are also many brethren in Christ who have given us respect and comfort in the spirit of Christ's Love, among whom we remember in prayer and with love:

Popes Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XIV, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and His Holiness, John Paul II

Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky - 1 November 1944

Bishop Nicholas Charnetsky - 2 April 1959

Patriarch Joseph Slipyi - 7 September 1984

Bishop Boleslaw Sloskans - 18 April 1981

Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov) of Leningrad - 1979

Bishop Michel d'Herbigny - 23 December 1957

Bishop Pie Neveu - 17 October 1946

Fr. Alexander Men - 9 September 1990

Select Bibliography:

Andrews, C. & Mitrokhin, V., The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB, New York, 1999

Diaconus Basilius, O.S.B., Leonidas Fiodoroff, De Vita et Operibus Enarratio, Publicationes Scientificae et Litterarae "Studion" Monasteriorum Studitarum, No. III-V, Roma, 1966

Ciszek, W., With God in Russia, Image Books, New York, 1966

Materials of the Fr. Walter Ciszek Prayer League, R.D. #I, Box 245, Sugarloaf, PA, 18249

Fennell, J., A History of the Russian Church to 1448, Longman, London and
New York, 1995.

Keleher, S., ed. & trans., Korolevsky, C., Metropolitan Andrew Sheptitsky, Stauropegion, L'viv, 1993

Keleher, S., Passion and Resurrection - The Greek Catholic Church in Soviet Ukraine 1939-1989, Stauropegion, L'viv, 1993 (contains important data and documents concerning the Russian Byzantine Catholics)

(Both of Fr. Keleher's books are available through Eastern Christian Publications)

Mailleux, P., Leonid Feodorov: Bridge Builder Between Rome and Moscow, P.J.Kenedy, New York, 1964

Martin, S., "Former KGB Men in Control as Heads Roll", Irish Times, December 8, 1998. http://www.cdi.org/russia/dec1198.html#2

Osipova, I., Se il mondo vi odia ... Martiri per la fede nel regime sovietico, R.C. Edizioni La Casa di Matriona, Milan, 1997

Perejda, G. trans., Bachtalowsky, S.J., C.Ss.R., Nicholas Charnetsky, C.Ss.R, Bishop-Confessor, Redemptorist Publications

Reznikova, I., Pravoslavie na Solovkach: Materiali po istorii Solovetskovo Lavria (Orthodox at Solovki: Materials for the History of Solovki Lavra), Saint Petersburg, 1994

Vicini, A., "Colossei del XX secolo ... La terra restituisce i suoi morti...." 7 La Nuova Europa 1, pp. 79-85, 1998

(The works by Ms. Osipova and Ms. Vicini are available from the Centro Studi Russia Cristiana in Milan, Italy; see address list on Links and Resources Page at this site.)

From the Catechism "MY CATHOLIC FAITH"


The essential acts of the Liturgy are three: the prayers of the priesthood in the Divine Office (represented by the first angel), the Mass (represented by the second angel), and the sacraments (represented by the third angel). The term "rite" is sometimes used to refer to the liturgy according to some definite custom and language. "Rite" may also designate in a narrow sense some particular liturgical ceremony; in this way we have the "rite of Baptism", etc.

55. The Catholic Eastern Church; Rites

What is the Catholic Eastern Church? --It is that part of the Church in the East which, although using liturgies and rites differing from those of the Latin (or Western) Church centered at Rome, subscribe to the same doctrines, and recognize the same Sovereign Pontiff, thus belonging to the same Universal and True Church.

The Catholic Eastern Church includes the following: Byzantines, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Malabarese, and Maronites.

1. At the beginning of the fourth century there was one Church, one in doctrine as well as in obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff, the Bishop of Rome. Even then, however, there was no uniformity in observances, ceremonies, rites.

Our Lord had sent the Apostles to different parts, and their followers had stuck to the doctrines, but had varied the observances and rites, in accordance with the particular inclinations of the people in the region. The languages used were naturally extremely varied; the Mass was the same Sacrifice instituted by Our Lord (in Aramaic), but it must have been said in quite a variety of languages.

2. Then political dissension within the Roman Empire led to its division into East and West. Religious organization, following political developments, led to the separation of first the Greek, then the Russian Orthodox Church. (See Chapter 71 on Schism and Heresy)

These schismatical churches denied the authority of the Pope, who lived in the West as Bishop of Rome. Otherwise they continued to practice the True Religion just as Christ and the Apostles had taught. They administered the sacraments, celebrated Mass, and followed other observances.

3. Within the Catholic Eastern Church, only the Maronite Church has never been in schism. With the passing of the centuries, those in schism divided and subdivided. Then, chiefly since the 16th and, 17th centuries, most of them returned to the unity of the True Church.

The Catholic Eastern Church continues to use different rites and observances, some of which even antedated those of Rome, as having been there, long before the schisms. Thus today the groups in the Eastern Church have their own discipline and customs, the most notable of which is that with them Mass (called "Holy Liturgy") is said in the language peculiar to the church in which it is being said: whether Slavonic, Rumanian, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, or Georgian.

Other differences of practice are: administration of the Holy Eucharist to the faithful in both forms of bread and wine, the use of leavened bread for Holy Mass, Baptism by immersion, bowing from the waist with a sweep of the arm instead of a genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament.

4. Groups in the Eastern Church are chiefly those under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. In the fifth century there were five patriarchates: these four composing the Eastern Church, and the Patriarchate of Rome alone in the West.

In those days there were clear-cut geographical divisions of patriarchates; an Eastern Catholic was born within the limits of his patriarchate. Today one belongs to his rite wherever he goes, and his children inherit his rite. In the United States there are two dioceses of Eastern Catholics: one of Philadelphia (Ukranian Greek) to which some 316,800 Catholics belong; and another of Pittsburgh (composed of Russians, Hungars, and Croats) , to which some 315,200 Catholics belong. If Canada is included, almost a million among us are of the Eastern Church.

5. The Catholic Eastern Church is a living proof of the universality of the Catholic Church. The matter (including the doctrines, faith and morals) is unchanging; but the manner (including rubrics and rites, custom and practice, the externals) may change. The Church organization is malleable; but the fundamentals and essentials, the doctrines, are unchanging anywhere.

Thus Catholics under the Patriarchate of Rome in the United States have only six holydays of obligation; the Ukranian Catholic here has to observe twenty holydays of obligation. His Christmas, though also December 25th, falls on our January 7th, because he uses a different calendar. In the Eastern Churches, the married clergy can be found as often as the celibate, because married men can be ordained and retain their wives. If the wife of a married priest dies, he cannot remarry; a bachelor who is ordained cannot marry later. Bishops are required to be either widowers or single.

Unity of religion does not mean uniformity of rite. Even in the Latin Church under the Patriarch of Rome, there are variations, all dating no later than the fourteenth century. As Pope Benedict XIV said: "Eastern Christians should be Catholics; they do not need to become Latins." Externals may vary; but the core is one.

What is liturgy, and what is rite? --Liturgy comprises a public act intended for the worship of God; rite is the manner of observing the act.

At present, however, the two terms are used indiscriminately and interchangeably. Strictly speaking, "liturgy" now refers to the rite of Holy Mass.

1. The Roman Rite is for all practical purposes the universal rite used in the Western Church. In it Latin is used.

During the period of persecutions, and on account of the difficulty of communication, variety in practices was the natural and common thing. When the Church became better organized, practices became more uniform. In the Latin Church rites practically became uniform in 1570 with the publication of the Roman Missal; even today a few variations remain.

2. The Byzantine Rite, after the Roman, is the most widely-used in the Church, being found in Russia, Greece, the Balkans, and south Italy. Greek is the language principally employed, but Georgian, Slavonic, and Roumanian are likewise used.

The Orthodox Eastern Church belongs to this rite. Originally, it was of Constantinople; it is based on the rite of St. James of Jerusalem, and was reformed by St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom. Modified for use in Russia, this Rite is termed Ruthenian.

3. Other Asian Rites are: the Antiochean, Chaldean, and Armenian; in their entirety or modified, they are employed in the East.

The Antiochean Rite is the source of many derived rites; it traces its origin to St. James of Jerusalem. The Syrians, Chaldeans, Malabarese, and Maronites use derivations. The Chaldean Rite is used by the Chaldeans and Malabarese. Syriac is the principal language used in both these rites. The Armenian Rite is in use among Armenians, found in the Levant, Italy, and Austria. The Armenian tongue is used. It is the Greek Liturgy of St. Basil.

4. In African Catholic churches, the principal rite used is the Alexandrian. This is called the "Liturgy of St. Mark"; but the original has been greatly modified. The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches use it.

The Catholic Copts are under the Patriarch of Alexandria, living in Cairo. Old Coptic and Arabic are the languages used in their liturgy: The Ethiopian Church uses a version of the Liturgy of St. Mark; it is as a whole the same as that of the Copts.

The ceremonies of these Rites may indeed seem strange to us of the Latin Rite. But the bishops and priests are real bishops and priests, though vested differently; the Mass and Sacraments are genuine, though performed with an unknown ritual. The Church in the East is the same Church in the West, the same founded by Jesus Christ, the One True Catholic Church.

Aquinas, a Light to the East?

Maybe Taft’s definition of Eastern Catholic Theology (ECT) is too broad and, thus, allows a big Latin fish like Aquinas to fit into net of ECT's extention (cf. previous post: Eastern Catholic Theology - Is There Any Such Thing?). Nevertheless, a “practioner” of ECT, like the Eastern Catholic and a Confessor of the Faith — Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, who Taft names as “one of the greatest Eastern Catholic leaders of modern times,” sees Aquinas as a Light to the East.

It was under Pius XI’s pontificate that Slipyj was nominated Rector of the Seminary and Theological Academy in L'viv. At that time he founded the Ukrainian Theological Society and its periodical Bohoslovia.

Before we look at the program of theological renewal in L’viv under¬taken by Slipyj, let us briefly examine two monographs that he wrote at the beginning of his theological career. They not only symbolise his entire theological endeavour, but they are representative of the tension that has long existed in Ukrainian theological centres of thought — namely the in¬terrelationship between St. Thomas and the East: “The tension represented by that complex interrelation between Thomism and the East was an undercurrent throughout his years as a student, and it was to recur throughout his career as a theologian and churchman.… Even at the end of his life, his young semi¬narians used to refer to Josyf Slipyj affectionately as ‘a Thomist in a klobuk,’ a reference to the distinctive headgear of a Ukrainian clergyman that he would often wear” (PELIKAN, Confessor between East and West, 103-104).

In 1924 the young theologian Josyf Slipyj wrote a series of dissertations that were to be given at the Congress for Church Unity held in Velehrad (located in the present-day Czech Republic). One of those dissertations was: De valore S. Thomæ Aquinatis pro Unione eiusque influxu in theologiam orientalem [Bohoslovia 3 (1925)]. There he argued that within the explicit teaching of the Magisterium — to follow the doctrine, method and principles of St. Thomas — there is also an implicit desire (desiderium implicite) of the Church that the philosophical and theological work for Church unity be founded upon the teachings of the Angelic Doctor: “Ecclesia catholica maximas laudes Aquinati tribuit et Summus Pontifex nupperime stu¬diorum ducem honorifice eum declaravit edicens ad theologiam philosophiamve S. Thomæ redeundum easdemque in spiritu et sec. mentem Doctoris Angelici evolvendum esse. In qua exhortatione etiam desiderium implicite contineri puto, ut labor scientificus unionisticæ actionis super Aquinatis fundetur” (ibid., 1-2).

He also accounted for the fittingness that St. Thomas be studied in the East — namely because scholasticism was born in the East and evolved from Greek philosophy and Greek Patristic theology, and because it was under the influence of St. Thomas and the Scholastics that philosophy and theology in Ukraine were revived and Church unity was promoted, especially by Metropolitan Peter Mohyla ) and the Kyivan-Mohylian Academy (founded in 1615): “Puto me non multum a veritate aberesse cum affirmem, quo profundius theologi Orientales opera S. Thomæ cognoverint, eo firmius Unioni ecclesiarum adhæsisse” (ibid., 18).

Following the erection of the Theological Academy (1929), in a monograph entitled De S. Thoma Aquinate atque Theologia et Philosophia scholastica, Slipyj continued his effort to correct the subjective evaluation of scholasticism that crept into the Ukrainian centres of philosophy: “We still are plagued by an out-dated notion of the Middle Ages and especially of scholastism… Therefore, since the doctrine of Thomas found a strong echo in our theology, I endeavoured as much as is possible to make this known, especially the interrelation between western scholastism and Ukraine. At the same time, I wanted to speak about the necessity of a revision of the notion of scholastism in Ukraine,” (Opera Omnia Kyr Josephi (Slipyj - Kobernyckyj - Dyckovskyj) Archiepiscopi Maioris et Cardinalis (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa, 1969), vol. 2, 9-10).

This monograph is divided into twelve chapters:
In the first chapter, "The Jubilee of St. Thomas (600th Anniversary of His Canonisation) and the Restoration of Scholasticism," Slipyj invited the whole Ukrainian nation to duly honour and praise St. Thomas because it was under his influence that education and theology were reborn in Ukraine (especially in the XVII century), and it was upon his doctrine that the idea of Church unity found its theological support.

Slipyj urged Ukrainian historians of philosophy, who at that time were heavily influenced by Protestant and liberal thought, to review the reasons for their opposition towards scholasticism. He demonstrated how their arguments were based upon an inherited prejudice rather than upon historical evidence. They were uninformed about the accomplishments of the golden age of scholasticism in the XIIIth century, and they identified scholasticism as a whole with its period of decadence in the XVI-XVIIth centuries. Moreover, the Ukrainian contribution to scholastic thought was a most neglected area of their research. He concluded that the restoration of scholasticism in Ukraine would cause a renewal in both philosophy and theology.

In the following chapter, "The Concept of Scholastic Theology and its First Fruits," he defined scholasticism and showed that its origin is in the Greek Fathers and theologians (St. John of Damascus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen).

In chapters 3 through 10, Slipyj briefly summarised the history of scholasticism in the West and of the life and work of St. Thomas. In chapter 11, St. Thomas and Eastern Theology, he showed that in the East there have always been theologians who have accepted and defended the doctrine of St. Thomas. After the fall of Constantinople, the centre of theological studies in the East moved to the Kyivan-Mohylian Academy, where Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Romanians, Croats, Bulgarians and Serbs all studied the doctrine of St. Thomas, revering his doctrine's intrinsic authority.

Slipyj concluded this chapter in these powerful words: “It is indeed clear that those Eastern theologians, who more intensely studied Thomas — more firmly supported Church Unity… There is now no need to fear, that having fallen into the clutches of Aquinas's Summa, the East will lose its distinctive character in the development of theology. The Magnum opus of scholasticism contains within itself the quintessence of theological knowledge and, therefore, constitutes the indispensable foundation for further studies. It would be rash to ignore and not consider the Summas in contemporary eastern theology” [«De S. Thoma Aquinate atque theologia et philosophia scholastica,» Opera Omnia Kyr Josephi (Slipyj - Kobernyckyj - Dyckovskyj) Archiepiscopi Maioris et Cardinalis (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa, 1969), 91-92].

In the last chapter, "A Summary of St. Thomas's Creativity," he briefly outlined Aquinas's theory of knowledge, his natural theology and his political philosophy.

Slipyj’s early theological ideas found their authoritative support in Pius XI's Magisterium. In 1931, six years after his appointment as rec¬tor of the Greek-Catholic Major Seminary in L’viv, he began the UGCC's reform of higher education modeled upon Deus scientiarum Dominus: “Scholastic philosophy has in the East a well-founded tradition, which was prepared by the Greek Fathers, especially Damascenus… The development of theological studies must advance along the path which the Church Fathers have marked out. Obviously, it cannot limit itself to a historical repetition, rather it must adapt itself to modern tendencies and problems, using the accomplishments of western theology: the development of theories, a clarified terminology, the latest pedagogical studies and methods, which have elevated western theology to such a high standard” (SLIPYJ, Opera Omnia, vols. 3-4, 96) (my translation); and in the section on Curriculum studiorum et examina, we find the doctrine of St. Thomas explicitly mention in both the Studia Philosophia (ibid., 109) and Studia Theologia (ibid., 111).

Pius XI's Magisterium was obeyed to the letter. St. Thomas’s doctrine played a key role in the contemporary ecclesiastical context of the UGCC. This structure of theological education lasted in Ukraine until the UGCC was liquidated at the ‘L'viv Sobor’, 8-10 March 1946, by the Soviet authorities, the Moscow patriarchate, and the so called ‘Initiative Group of the Greek-Catholic Church for Reunion with the Orthodox Church’ set up by the People's Commissariat of State Security.

On 13 March 1969, N.B. just after Vatican II, at the Angelicum, as part of the celebrations for the feast of St. Thomas, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj gave a lecture on St. Thomas: Theology and Philosophy in the East [«San Tommaso e la scienza teologica e filosofica nell'Oriente,» Angelicum ), 3-15].

The theme of Slipyj's discourse was to examine what the Eastern theological tradition had to say about St. Thomas and western scholasticism, and what St. Thomas, on the other hand, had to say about the Eastern Tradition.

He noted that in the East many Greek and Russian theologians speak with indignation of scholasticism because having examined scholasticism only in its period of decadence, they fail to see in it the continuation of the teachings of Greek philosophy and of the Greek Church Fathers: “Infatti fondamentale per la scolastica è la filosofia aristotelica e la teologia dei Padri greci e di Sant'Agostino. È incredibile come San Tommaso, commentatore del greco Aristotele, versato nella patrologia greca, con la sua calma ed oggetività, con il suo carattere stabile ed inflessible, e con la sua santità — santissimus inter doctores et doctissimus inter sanctos, — non abbia potuto infrangere questo muro divisorio e penetrare nelle menti e nei cuori degli Orientali ed aprire gli occhi anche agli Occidentali. Veramente la scolastica si è svillupata dalla dottrina dei Padri greci, e San Tommaso — il più eccelente filosofo e teologo scolastico — ha preso come fondamento i Padri greci, ha esposto il loro pensiero e ha preparato così lo svillupo posteriore della teologia greca e della stessa missione delle Chiese” (ibid.)

Slipyj went on to demonstrate the influence of Greek thought in the works of the Scholastics, especially in those of St. Thomas and, in turn, the influence of St. Thomas's doctrine on the East. He emphasised the mediating role that St. Thomas's doctrine has played and continues to play in bringing both East and West together: “Concludendo si può affermare tranquillamente che le opere di S. Tommaso hanno contribuito molto all'avvicinamento delle due Chiese in Oriente ed Occidente. La sua argomentazione può essere presa come solido fondamento nelle discussione e polemiche, in tutte le questioni controverse fra le Chiese d'Occidente e d'Oriente, perché poggia su una salida base” (ibid.).

In the UGCC at that time, Slipyj was not alone in his heavy reliance on St. Thomas in his theological works. Both of the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrij Sheptyskyj's major theological works, The Wisdom of God (Metropolita Andreas Szeptyckyj, Opera: ascetico-moralia (Romæ: Universitas Catholica Ucrainorum a S. Clemente Papa,1979), 1-126) and On Christian Righteousness (ibid., 127-413) are replete with references to St. Thomas. In The Wisdom of God, he includes as an essential part of his theological method a consultation of St. Thomas's doctrine: “Therefore, under the guidance of St. Thomas, a great teacher in the theological school, which is now approved by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, we will examine the virtues of Christian righteousness…” (ibid., 27).

The present rector of the Holy Spirit Seminary in L’viv, Fr. Sviatoslav Shevchuk, summed up the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Theology according to Slipij’s vision as: “the inheritance of Kyivan Christianity. Today many speak about the special characteristic of the Kyivan Church as a Church that feels the need of a dual communion: from one hand, with the Latin Church, and, from the other, with the Orthodox. Naturally, the theological tradition of this Church grew and ought to grow in a dual theological and intellectual communion that is essential to it. In the works of Josyf Slipij sounds a clear warning against ecclesial and theological separatism as regards the West. Such a separatism would lead to an ignorance of Western Theology and would lead to controversy and schism (“The Identity of Ukrainian Theological Studies in the Light of Patriarch Josyf’s Testament” Bohoslovia 66/), 137).

Could it be that, in the light of Josyf Card. Slipyj’s reflections on Eastern Catholic Theology, Aquinas indeed is a Light to the East, because his theology reflects the Lux ex Oriente? Maybe Taft’s definition of ECT is right and Aquinas does fall within its parameters!?