2013-01-19 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) Two papal appointments in the past two days have given Ukrainian Catholics in France and the UK a greater sense of pastoral presence and stability.
Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Ukrainian Apostolic Exarchate in Great Britain to the rank of Eparchy on Friday. He followed up on Saturday with an announcement, elevating the exarchate in France to the same rank.
The two bishops appointed to serve as eparchs are both American-born Ukrainian Catholics, who have served the Byzantine Catholic Church in the Ukraine and Europe for more than a decade.
Bishop Hlib Borys Sviatoslav Lonchyna, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, will head the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London. And Bishop Borys Gudziak, a native of Syracuse, NY, will lead the eparchy of St. Wladimir the Great of Paris. Both were previously serving these territories as exarchs.
Bishop Gudziak shared with Vatican Radio how the Byzantine Church in France offers accompaniment and a sense of security for the Ukrainian Catholic community:
“Most of our faithful now are refugees… they’re illegal migrants, they live in fear, anxiety. They cannot engage in the system, and they are on the edge all the time. So this uncomfortable spiritual and psychological position is something that needs to be addressed and ministered to by the Church.”
So what does the change from exarchate to eparchy mean? Well, an exarchate in the Eastern Catholic Church is similar to an apostolic vicariate in the Latin Rite, which is usually established in a missionary region as provisional, in the hope that the faithful will grow in sufficient number to establish a diocese.
As well, the territory of a vicariate or exarchate remains directly under the jurisdiction of the pope and is administered in his name by a vicar or exarch. In the case of a diocese or eparchy, however, the jurisdiction derives directly from the bishop.
The Ukrainian communities in France and the UK each number about 35,000.
Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci: 00:01:58:39