March 2008 Print

The Society of St. Josaphat

Fr. Arnaud Sélégny, FSSPX


On October 16, 2007, Bishop Bernard Fellay ordained seven priests for the Society of St. Josaphat in the Ukraine. What is this Society, friendly to the SSPX? Where do its priests come from? How did they become associated with the fight for Catholic Tradition? What is their present situation? This article will answer these questions.


The Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine

The members of the Society of St. Josaphat belong to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. But no small difficulty awaits the Latin-Rite Catholic who wishes to look into this Church, what she represents, and her present situation. Indeed, Eastern-Rite Churches are often very little known in the West, and we do not realize very clearly what they truly represent. Consequently, we will try to take a glimpse at this important part of the Catholic Church.

The expression "Eastern-Rite Church" actually refers to several distinct elements. First of all, it implies a geographical notion. As a matter of fact, these Churches are found especially in a definite area. However, for several of them there also exists a more or less numerous diaspora, especially in Canada, in the United States and also in Australia; yet the territorial notion remains very important. The reason is of a historical nature: most of these Churches stemmed from the reunion or union with Rome of a number of bishops and faithful from a Church which had previously separated from the Holy See. Thus, they are elements from one of the "Orthodox"1 Churches that have become attached to Rome, and since these Churches are essentially territorial, it is only normal to find the same repartition in the Catholic Churches of the Eastern-Rite. In passing, let us note that this breaking up of Orthodoxy into national Churches is connected with their "autocephalous" conception, namely a union of Churches without a unique head. Schism with Rome unavoidably led to this atomization in Orthodoxy. We must also bear in mind that the various governments were very keen to favor such a dispersion, preferring to deal with a Church which they could control in their national territory.

Thus, we find a very great number of Churches which resulted from the return of schismatics to the bosom of Rome. Next to the territorial element, an Eastern-Rite Church is also characterized by the rite or liturgy it uses. There are four great traditions: Alexandrian and Abyssinian, Syriac, Armenian, and Byzantine. The Byzantine is the most widely represented, and to it is attached the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. In this tradition, three Eucharistic liturgies are used: the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which is usually used; the liturgy of St. Basil of Caesarea, which is celebrated ten times a year; and the liturgy of St. Gregory, called the Five Pre-Sanctified Gifts, which is celebrated during Lent. The Ukrainian Rite also has some specificities, but we leave them to specialists.

Lastly, a third element must be taken into account: the sacred language. In the Churches which were gradually established in the East Slavic territory, Old Slavic, also called Slavonic, is the sacred language. It is the ancestor of today's Slavic languages and was little modified for Church use. It is used only in the liturgical Offices of the Greek-Catholic or Orthodox Churches of that area. It still uses the Cyrillic alphabet invented by St. Cyril the Philosopher.2

Now that we have some general idea of the Eastern-Rite Church, we must focus on the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Her history was very stormy, linked as it were, with that of the Ukraine itself, which in turn was indissolubly dependent upon the history of Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. You can guess that the matter is not simple. We will nevertheless attempt to describe its main features.

Around the 10th century, the Slavs of the Eastern areas united into a kingdom called Rus.3 The center of this first Russia was Kiev in the Ukraine. At that time, missionaries from Byzantium and from Rome began to evangelize the country. The first member of the reigning dynasty to receive baptism was Queen Olga, around the year 955. At first, the country looked to Germany for direction, but soon Byzantium took a decisive lead in this regard. However, Kiev was not simply annexed by Byzantium, since even after the Schism of 1054, union with the Holy See remained. The Ukraine was then repeatedly invaded: Russia invaded it first, but the country was mainly taken over and devastated by the Tartars. After the Tartars, came Lithuania, then Poland, then both countries together. During that time, the Ukrainian Church was within the sphere of influence of Byzantium. However, under the influence of the Lithuanian and Polish clergy, efforts were undertaken with a view to a reunion with the Holy See. They eventually resulted in the famous Union of Brest-Litovsk, in 1596, which marked the birth of the Ruthenian Church.4

However, difficulties were far from being over, and the Ukrainians still had to fight for a long time in order to remain faithful to Rome. It is in this context that the martyrdom of St. Josaphat took place.

The next centuries were fraught with difficulties, among them the lack of a national Ukrainian territory since at the end of the 17th century it was divided again between Poland and Russia. On the other hand, the Polish clergy made its superiority heavily felt. It deemed that the Ukrainian Church should go over to the Latin Rite. This was called "Latinization," and by this means it also attempted to "Polonize" the clergy of the Ukraine. Such attempts engendered a long-lasting climate of distrust between the two countries, on the ecclesiastical level as much as in civil affairs. In this context, the Council of Zamosc took place in 1720, which remains famous in the history of the Ruthenian Church.

In 1806, Russia abolished the metropolia [the eastern equivalent of an archdiocese–Ed.] of Kiev, and the Holy See re-established it in Lviv, in 1807, for the territory under Austrian rule.

The 20th century saw no improvement, but on the contrary ever more violent persecutions. We must remember that 17 million Ukrainians disappeared in the convulsions of the Russian Revolution and World Wars. We only have to think of the great famine organized under Stalin, the systematic repressions, the toll of the two World Wars, the expulsions and deportations! It is true that the Catholics were not the only ones to bear the brunt of this horrible persecution. Yet, in 1946, Russia caused a cabal in Lviv to abolish the union with Rome. From that time on, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church no longer had any legal existence. Let us remember that the national territory of the Ukraine had become one of the satellite republics of the USSR. It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall that the Ukraine recovered its independence and that the Greek-Catholic Church was resurrected. During the intermediary period, she had lived in the catacombs. Numerous bishops and priests were arrested, expelled, condemned to hard labor or executed. Today, the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine numbers 15 bishops, 2,200 priests, 750 monks, 1,100 nuns, 3,000 churches and five million faithful.

But the last blow dealt to the Greek-Catholic Church of the Ukraine came from the Holy See itself, with the signature of the "Balamand Agreement" which annihilated the very reality of the Uniate fact. The ecumenical climate born after the Second Vatican Council was made to bear increasingly heavily on the Uniate Churches. Soon the word "Uniatism" was coined to designate a backward-looking method of proselytism which had to be rejected at all cost. The Uniate Churches came to be considered as a thorn in the side of Roman ecumenism. With the Balamand Agreement they were, in fact, more or less buried alive.

The Society of St. Josaphat

In the new Ukraine which was independent for the first time after many centuries, and intoxicated with the joy of a national union which seemed unshakable, the new liberty in religious matter looked like a miracle. Apparently everything was possible. Many were those who left Orthodoxy, and besides the Orthodox Church soon broke up into two, and then three, national Churches–something which still weakened its strength. Catholics could believe they were living in a golden age. Alas! A third world war of which they were hardly aware, shut as they were behind the iron curtain, was about to cause havoc.

The first contacts of Tradition with the Ukraine were connected with the missionary visits of Fr. Rulleau of the SSPX, now Fr. Bernard de Menthon, OSB [now with the Monastery of the Holy Cross, in Brazil, affiliated with the SSPX–Ed.]. Immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain, he traveled to the various Eastern countries just freed from the Communist yoke. Thus Basilian Sisters, just coming out of the catacombs, received the help of the SSPX. Three of them later became Oblates in the Society of St. Pius X.

The Redemptorist Fathers (of Papa Stronsay) also made prospecting visits; Redemptorists have been supporting Ukrainian Catholics for centuries.

Through them Fr. Vasyl (Basil) Kovpak came to know the traditional Catholic movement. A diocesan priest, in charge of two parishes, he felt worried about the various changes which had occurred in the Ukrainian Church. But he first wanted to take time to gather information, and he began to meet with the SSPX only in 1997. He came several times to the priory of Warsaw to obtain a better understanding of the frightful crisis which was shaking the Church, and whose extent he had not been able to fully realize because of the isolation of the Eastern countries. A decisive element proved to be the pilgrimage, organized by the Redemptorists, which he made to Fatima with the Basilian Sisters. In 1998, Fr. Stehlin, SSPX, went to the Ukraine upon the invitation of Fr. Vasyl, in order to establish a strong and lasting relationship.

But what were the disquieting changes which had thus urged Fr. Vasyl to look towards Tradition? What transformations did the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church undergo so that, so soon after leaving the catacombs, this priest was thinking of going underground again?

The Ukrainian Rite, which is a slightly modified Byzantine rite, did not undergo any of the deep deviations which the liturgical reform of Pope Paul VI imposed upon the Latin Rite. Of course, some slight changes could be observed, but they were rather accidental. On the other hand, one change profoundly affected most of the Catholics: the abandonment of their sacred language, the Old Slavonic, to the benefit of the vernacular. The change was as offensive for this Church as the abandonment of Latin in the West. Besides, as was the case also in the West, it meant breaking the unity which existed thanks to this sacred language between the various Eastern Rites (with the Ruthenian Church or the Russian Church, for instance). It was also cutting this Church off from its roots, as part of its tradition is written in this ancient language. The same causes led to the same effects. Indignant, Fr. Vasyl took up his pen to protest and wrote a book in defense of Old Slavonic. He also defended it in practice by continuing to celebrate in Old Slavonic in his parishes.

The priests who had come from the West to help the Ukrainian Church to achieve its aggiornamento, were thinking before all of favoring a rapprochement with the Orthodox. One of the means they used was, paradoxically enough, a traditional means. Here some explanations are needed.

Since the Union of Brest-Litovsk, the Ukrainian Church had often been subjected to attempts of Latinization at various levels, as we mentioned above. Popes had always fought to protect the Eastern Churches from such an invasion. There are three main reasons for this protection. First, the defense of venerable Catholic Rites which can all claim to answer the criterion used by St. Pius V when he codified the Tridentine Mass. All can prove that their origins went back to more than 200 years before the work of this holy pope. Consequently, it was an abuse, and a serious one, to want to eradicate rites rooted in high antiquity and belonging to the liturgical patrimony of the Church. To this must be added the concern to make the return of the schismatic churches easier. One of the recurring accusations against Rome was the suspicion that it wanted the hegemony of the Latin Rite. Union once accomplished, Eastern Rites would run the risk of pure and simple disappearance. It must be said that the Latin clergy were at times greatly responsible for this mistrust. Lastly, Latin remains incomprehensible to the members of the Eastern Churches. It is foreign to their culture. To want to impose it to entire peoples–and not only to a few scholars–was pure illusion.

However, with the passing of time, some Latinization had been established at various levels in the Ukrainian Church. We must distinguish what concerned the Rite itself from more or less para-liturgical elements. For instance, statues were introduced, as well as devotion to the Sacred Heart, the Stations of the Cross, the rosary and communion received kneeling. During the period of "official" suppression of the Greek-Catholic Church in the Ukraine–from 1946 through 1991–these elements had been a strong support for the Ukrainian Catholics who had become very much attached to them. Arm-chair reformers, most of them coming from the West, wanted to proceed with the "purification" of the Ukrainian Rite without taking this historical evolution into account, and they began to remove statues and stations of the Cross. The removals were occasions for protest and confrontations. In the cathedral of Kiev, the statue of the Sacred Heart was removed several times and each time it was restored to its place during the night.

But this de-Latinization also had a hidden ecumenical basis. It was a matter of bringing the Uniate Rite closer to its corresponding Orthodox Rite. On the one hand, this was along the line desired by the Roman Pontiffs ever since the beginning of the union, but on the other hand, it was now destined to show the uselessness of the Uniate Churches in order to make them disappear in the long run.

Fr. Vasyl energetically fought this questioning of devotions dear to the people whose viaticum they had been during the dark years. But he did not, for all that, wish to undermine the Ukrainian Rite, which he is defending against the innovators in other respects.

That there is a wish to see the Uniate Church disappear is no figment of the imagination nor a rash judgment passed on the reformers. It has been clearly manifested ever since 1993 with the famous so-called Balamand Agreement.

A third element was a source of concern for Fr. Vasyl, namely the arrival of charismatics in the Ukraine in the years 1994-95. Their practices deeply shocked priests attached to their religious traditions. There is no need to insist on this point.

Lastly, true Uniates were strongly concerned about the words of Our Lady in Fatima. Russia would convert to the Catholic Faith, such was Our Lady's promise. But it was permissible to wonder about the paths which would lead to this conversion. Heaven makes use of secondary causes to achieve its purpose. It seemed quite natural to think that the Uniate Church would be the spearhead, or the heart if you prefer, for the achievement of the Immaculate Heart of Mary's promise. But how could this be so, if the Uniate Church was thus promised to sure destruction?

It was then that Fr. Vasyl and six other priests–all parish priests–who wanted to join in the same fight came to ask Bishop Fellay to take them under his protection by erecting a Society according to the Ukrainian traditions, the Society of St. Josaphat of the Ukraine, which has its headquarters in Lviv. The foundation took place on September 28, 2000, and Fr. Vasyl was elected as first superior. Bishop Fellay erected the Society, as well as the Congregation of the Basilian Sisters of Divine Mercy, and he blessed the seminary on the occasion of a visit to the Ukraine in November of that same year. Eight seminarians immediately joined the Institute placed under the responsibility of our present Superior General.

Let us note that the Society of St. Josaphat cannot do without a bishop as Superior, because the Ukrainian State does not accept the apostolate of any priest who is not under a bishop–whether this latter be Catholic, Orthodox, or belonging to some sect. This dependence upon the bishop would soon prove indispensable. Indeed, one of the priests of the Society of St. Josaphat who had a parish in another diocese was quickly suspended, cast out of his parish, and denounced to the government: he was in danger of being jailed. Because his apostolate was exercised under the responsibility of a bishop, he was released. He had to defend himself as often as five times before civil tribunals!

From the beginning, the SSPX helped out financially to build churches and for the upkeep of the seminary, but also with the classes regularly taught by our priests at the seminary of Lviv.

After its foundation, the Society of St. Josaphat lived more or less underground, or at least it avoided showing itself in order to give time to the young community to be strengthened and to work on the formation of the faithful. This period lasted until 2002. At that time, the seminarians donned the cassock and it became difficult to hide them. Very soon the first measures were taken against them. Another priest had his parish taken from him, and a third was sentenced with a "major excommunication." In the month of May, the first deacon was ordained by Bishop Williamson in Zaitzkofen. He was already a sub-deacon when he joined the Society of St. Josaphat.

In 2003, Fr. Vasyl was suspected of being the superior of the Society and a canonical inquest was set up against him by Cardinal Husar, Archbishop of Lviv and an openly declared ecumenist. Fr. Vasyl responded with a vigorous book in which he recounted the persecution against Tradition in the Ukraine and the history of the defense of Tradition in the Latin Church by Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX without omitting the action of Bishop de Castro Mayer and of Bishop Lazo. He justified his foundation by the state of necessity. Three thousand copies were printed, and the book was favorably received. On the other hand, Fr. Vasyl circulated a petition of support and gathered over 7,000 signatures in his parishes! At the same time, they undertook to build a church to make possible the apostolate of the priest who had been driven out of his parish. Fr. Vasyl was summoned by Cardinal Husar, who demanded explanations and a clear stand: "It is either me or Bishop Fellay." Together with the other priests and their faithful–more than 10,000 souls–he was threatened with a major excommunication! In November, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais ordained the first priest of the Society of St. Josaphat at the priory in Warsaw.

On February 10, 2004, on the airwaves, Cardinal Husar fulminated the major excommunication against Fr. Vasyl, because he had associated with a schismatic movement. This censure, the strictest in the Eastern Rite, was passed without any trial. A complaint was filed with Rome for legal flaws. It was accepted and the condemnation was recognized as null and void because of irregularity. The Cardinal started new proceedings. On the other hand, the hierarchy attempted to reclaim the churches, including those built by the Society of St. Josaphat. On June 1, 2004, an excommunication was again pronounced for the following motives: collaboration with the schismatic group of the Lefebvrites, the illegal foundation of a seminary and of the Congregation of the Basilian Sisters, and lastly distribution of his book Tradition Excommunicated. Fr. Vasyl immediately filed an appeal with the tribunal of second instance. His recourse was accepted and examined.

But God also gave consolations, and on the feast of Christ the King, Fr. Vasyl blessed the new church in His honor, which could seat 250 persons. In the month of November, a disused 17th-century church, given by some faithful to the Society, burnt down...and an attempt was made to set the new church on fire. The police inquest concluded that it was a case of arson.

Things calmed down during the first half of 2005. The public unrest consequent upon the Orange Revolution and the disputed presidential election, which took place a second time, prevented the Cardinal from taking action. The churches of Fr. Vasyl were henceforth entirely under his control since the two curates who had been imposed upon him to watch and hinder him had withdrawn elsewhere. But in August, the hierarchy struck again. In point of fact, the tribunal of second instance had also declared his sentence of excommunication null and void because of legal flaw. New threats were made. Let Fr. Vasyl close down his seminary and the Sisters of the Society of St. Josaphat, and he would be left in peace! If he were to refuse, he would be excommunicated and his parish would be taken away! The bishop's office stated that no recourse to Rome would succeed.

Once again, some consolations were in store for the valiant soldiers. On October 13, 2004, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima was solemnly received in the Ukraine. Three thousand faithful were present to welcome it. It was first placed in Fr. Vasyl's church. Day and night, faithful were lining up, waiting for their turn to pray at least a few moments before the statue and touch it. Any faithful above 16 years of age could enroll in the "Fatima Book," declaring that he had the privilege of praying in person before the statue, desired the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, and supported Catholic Tradition. When the statue left the Ukraine at the end of October, some 20,000 persons had enrolled. Astonishing facts occurred which had seldom been seen before: seven state schools requested the visit of Our Lady, and the rectors–together with the teachers and all the children–consecrated their schools to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A considerable number of faithful came back to Catholic Tradition, and some schismatic Orthodox even converted. When the statue left the Ukraine on October 31, some 6,000 persons came to wave it goodbye, and no eyes remained dry. It was a real triumph for Our Lady of Fatima in this country which suffers deeply.

On the other hand, a new archbishop of Lviv was appointed in November, after the major archiepiscopal see had been moved to Kiev, where Cardinal Husar took residence. The new prelate, Archbishop Igor Vozniak, began by warning against the Society of St. Josaphat, fearing the expansion of the "Lefebvrites" in the area: "The Lefebvrite Society is spreading its tentacles among us, and is gaining ground among the laity by trying to open its own chapels," he explained. "There is a serious threat of division in the Church about which I have already warned the parish priests in a special communiqué." He also announced that he would discuss the problem with the official authorities on the occasion of his upcoming ad limina visit.

As for Bishop Viktor Skworc, of Tarnow, in neighboring Poland, he joined parish groups in Janov for a march "against the Lefebvrites, who have founded a seminary and a convent, as well as various parishes in the area."

On February 15, 2006, two members of the Society of St. Josaphat were ordained to the sub-diaconate, and to the diaconate the next day, according to the custom of the Greek Catholic Church. The ordination took place in Warsaw in the presence of five priests of the Society, five Sisters, seven seminarians, and some faithful. The ceremony went very well, but as Bishop Tissier de Mallerais had forgotten to bring his crozier, we had to borrow one, which was readily lent "for a visiting French bishop" by a diocesan structure! Fr. Vasyl had been threatened with excommunication in case the ceremony would take place. It came soon after and was followed by a new recourse to the Roman Rota. This latter declared itself incompetent and sent the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which delegated Cardinal Husar to pass the final judgment, this time without any possible recourse. During the time necessary for the procedure, the Society continued to grow, and henceforth ordinations were taking place on a regular basis.

The year 2007 saw new sentences against the priests of the Society of St. Josaphat. On this past October 16, 2007, Bishop Fellay ordained seven deacons to the priesthood thus bringing to 18 the number of priests in the Society of St. Josaphat. The seminary numbers 19 seminarians, and 25,000 faithful attend their various places of worship. On Friday, November 16, the final decree of excommunication of Fr. Vasyl was released...


Fr. Arnaud Sélégny, FSSPX, is the Secretary General to Bishop Bernard Fellay. Reprinted with permission from the November-December 2007 issue of Christendom, published by DICI, the international news bureau of the SSPX. It is available on line at



1 The word is here taken in a broad sense to designate all the non-Catholics of the Eastern Rite.

2 It would seem that St. Cyril invented the Glagolitic alphabet, which was later simplified and perfected by his disciple Clement of Okhrid.

3 Actually, the word comes from Finnish, because this first kingdom was originally organized by groups of Scandinavian soldiers under a certain Rurik, called Rus in Slavic.

4 The adjective "Ruthenian" refers to Ruthenia, which is a part of the Ukraine. It long served to designate the Ukrainian Church, but at present, it designates another Uniate Church whose territory is partly in Slovakia, partly in Poland, and in the Ukraine.


The Eastern Catholic Churches and Their Traditions

Alexandrinian/Abyssinian Tradition:

Coptic Catholic Church • Ethiopian Catholic Church

Syriac Tradition:

Syriac Catholic Church • Maronite Church • Chaldean Catholic Church

Armenian Tradition:

Armenian Catholic Church

Byzantine Tradition:

Greek-Catholic Melkite • Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church • Romanian Church United with Rome • Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church • Byzantine Catholic Church • Slovak Greek-Catholic Church • Czech Greek-Catholic Church • Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church • Bulgarian Greek-Catholic Church • Croatian Greek Catholic Church • Apostolic Exarchate of Serbia and Montenegro • Macedonian Greek-Catholic Church • Russian Byzantine Catholic Church • Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church • Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church • Italo-Albanian Catholic Church • Greek Byzantine Catholic Church • Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholic Community

The Various Catholic Eastern Churches

Patriarchal Churches

Maronite Church (See in Lebanon) • Coptic Catholic Church (See in Egypt) • Armenian Catholic Church (See in Lebanon) • Syriac Catholic Church (See in Lebanon) • Greek-Catholic Melkite Church (See in Syria) • Chaldaean Catholic Church (See in Iraq)

Major Archiepiscopal Churches

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church • Syro-Malabar Catholic Church • Syro-Malankara Catholic Church • Romanian Church United with Rome

Metropolitan Churches

Byzantine Catholic Church • Ethiopian Catholic Church

Other Churches and Communities

Ruthenian Greek-Catholic Church • Slovak Greek-Catholic Church • Hungarian Greek-Catholic Church • Bulgarian Greek-Catholic Church • Apostolic Exarchate of Serbia and Montenegro • Croatian Greek Catholic Church • Macedonian Greek-Catholic Church • Czech Greek-Catholic Church • Russian Byzantine Catholic Church • Belarusian Greek-Catholic Church • Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church • Italo-Albanian Catholic Church • Greek Byzantine Catholic Church • Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholic Community

The Balamand Agreement

On June 23, 1993, the Declaration of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was released. This declaration condemned Uniatism, namely the 1,000-year-old practice of the Catholic Church to help the schismatics to return to the bosom of the one Church by the creation of dioceses of the same Rite as theirs. This meant the condemnation at the same time of the Uniate Churches, which had suffered martyrdom in order to remain Catholic. The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity signed a text which put forth the following ecclesiological principles:

In order to legitimize this tendency, a source of proselytism, the Catholic Church developed the theological vision according to which she presented herself as the only one to whom salvation was entrusted.1

This is a pure and simple denial of the unity of the Church. And the document goes on:

Because of the way in which Catholics and Orthodox once again consider each other in relationship to the mystery of the Church and discover each other once again as Sister Churches, this form of "missionary apostolate" described above, and which has been called "uniatism," can no longer be accepted either as a method to be followed nor as a model of the unity our Churches are seeking.2

And it adds:

On each side it is recognized that what Christ has entrusted to His Church—profession of apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops—cannot be considered the exclusive property of one of our Churches....It is in this perspective that the Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose.3

Henceforth the Orthodox Churches seem to be part of the Catholic Church, without however submitting to the pope. Lastly, in the practical rules, they naturally concluded:

Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Eastern, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox....passing beyond the outdated ecclesiology of return to the Catholic Church.4

This is a theology of contempt.


1, §10.

2 Ibid., §12.

3 Ibid., §§13, 14.

4 Ibid., §§22, 30.

Who Was St. Josaphat?

St. Josaphat was born in Wladimir, a town in Poland, from a family of modest origin. At baptism, he received the name of John. At 20, he entered the order of the United Basilians of Poland and took the name of Josaphat.

The superior of the community, who had secretly gone over to schism, vainly tried to bring Josaphat to rebel against the Holy Father. To the great displeasure of the schismatics who showered abuse and sarcasm upon the saint, Josaphat denounced the archimandrite to the metropolitan, who deposed him. Though merely a deacon, Josaphat exhibited a burning zeal for the conversion of those who were not in union with Rome and brought a good number of them back into the Church. Once ordained a priest, the holy Basilian monk became the apostle of the area, giving himself entirely to preaching and the hearing of confessions, while practicing a strict observance of his rules. God had granted to Josaphat a special gift to assist those condemned to death. He used to visit the sick and the poor, wash their feet, and procure remedies and food for the needy. Appointed as archimandrite of the Convent of the Trinity, which was mostly made up of young religious, he formed them to the monastic life with true fatherly vigilance. At the age of 38, St. Josaphat Koncévitch was consecrated archbishop of Polotsk in Vilnius.

While the archbishop attended the Diet in Warsaw to which several bishops had been convoked, a schismatic bishop took his see unexpectedly. St. Josaphat hurried back to his fold to bring the rebellious sheep back to obedience. When he tried to speak, the mob, excited by the schismatics, pounced on him. He would have been mercilessly massacred if the armed forces had not intervened to free him.

On the morning of November 12, 1623, as he was praying in the chapel of the episcopal palace of Vitebsk, a furious mob invaded that holy house. St. Josaphat promptly came forward when he heard the tumult: "If you are looking for me," he said to these murderers, "here I am." Two men came up to him. One of them hit his forehead with a pole, the other split his head with a halberd. Finally, he was shot twice in the head. He was 44 years old. St. Josaphat is the patron saint of the Ukraine.