Reflections on H2H

Like most events of this kind, the inauguration of Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak of Philadelphia was programmatic as well as ceremonial: it sent a message about the future course of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. It was a “Heart to Heart” meeting not only among hierarchs, monastics, and pastors, but first of all between clergy and laity. This was evident, for example, when after the liturgy in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 8, priests and faithful joined in a barbecue, and the newly installed metropolitan and a leading scholar-cleric from Canada reportedly joined with children in a game of soccer.

Walking the walk

Last Christmas, nearly 600 poor and homeless people were treated to a festive meal at the church of the Protection of the Mother of God in Lviv. Organized by the lay community of Sant’Egidio and the parish, these Christmas repasts have been held since 2006. Similar ones are offered in Kyiv and Ivano-Frankivsk. Founded in Rome in 1968, the community of Sant’Egidio has held Christmas lunches since 1982, at last count serving some 240,000 needy people in 77 countries. (Patriyarkhat No. 1, 2019, p. 30)

A post-nationalist Ukraine?

The people of Ukraine have spoken. By an overwhelming majority, they have rejected the incumbent, President Petro Poroshenko, and elected Volodymyr Zelensky, an entertainer with no political experience and only the vaguest of programs. Their vote is widely understood as a protest against corruption, in which many, if not most, have themselves participated. They also seem to be emulating the politically advanced American people, voting for “change” without much regard for the kind of change, and looking to comedians for political wisdom.

Too much ritual?

For generations, we have been complaining that people are leaving our churches, especially the young. Why are they leaving, and where are they going? A sociological study may soon provide some answers. The matter is tricky, because respondents may not always want to admit, even to themselves, why they leave a church or religion. But for now, we can at least guess at some of the excuses and outcomes.

Our church press

Does this heading make you yawn? If so, I hear you. I do not mean that I hear you yawning. Rather, I understand that the average reader is not excited by the prospect of reading about parish picnics, canonical visitations, administrative regulations and pastoral letters. 

A new Orthodoxy?

A “new Orthodoxy” – isn’t that an oxymoron? The very word, with either an upper-case or a lower-case “o,” connotes conservatism. And Church “Orthodoxy,” which means “right teaching” or “right belief,” suggests dogmatism. Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church, which is the bearer of the kind of Orthodoxy with which most Ukrainians are familiar, is well-known for its conservative approach to matters both theological and political. 

What ever happened to human rights?

The news is full of reports of human rights violations: in Crimea and the Donbas since the 2014 Russian invasions, as well as in dozens of countries around the world with a variety of political systems. But compared to the vogue for human rights in the 1970s, enthusiasm seems to have waned. 

Town and country

One Easter in the early 1990s, I was taken to the village of Sholomiya, near Lviv. In a cramped house I encountered an elderly lady sitting by the television set. “It’s disgusting what they show on TV these days,” she complained. “Why, they even show people kissing!” If only you knew, I thought… 

Five good things about Washington

After a decade in Washington, D.C., Ambrose Bierce defined politics as “a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Today, most people seem to hold either of two images of our capital: a fetid swamp that needs to be drained periodically because it keeps filling up with alligators, toads, water-snakes and Democrats – or a mad Republican three-ring circus run by a clown. 

I will not commit to either of these visions of reality. But I would like to point out that there is more to Washington than politics. For if you should visit this fair city, you will find at least five other noteworthy facets of its life. There is, of course, a Ukrainian dimension to each of them. 

First is diplomacy. Washington is not only the center of national politics, but of the United States’ relations with the rest of the world.