New Westminster, 10 February 2011: Today His Holiness Benedict XVI announced that he has accepted the resignation of His Beatitude Lubomyr Cardinal Husar, father and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and major archbishop of Kyiv-Halych in accordance with 126 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches. (Canon 126 – §1. The patriarchal see becomes vacant at the death or resignation of the patriarch. §2. The synod of bishops of the patriarchal Church is competent to accept the resignation of the patriarch, having consulted with the Roman Pontiff, unless the patriarch approaches the Roman Pontiff directly.) His Beatitude will celebrate his 78th birthday on February 26.
At a press conference in Kyiv Ukraine today, His Beatitude Lubomyr explained that he had asked the Holy Father to accept his resignation, saying, “Today, when I no longer have sufficient strength, I wish to handover the leadership (of our Church) to a successor, who would effectively continue this work. For this is not my work (alone) and I am not the key factor. The Church is the key factor, and the goal of our work is service to the Church, we stive to fulfill this task, as long we can do so effectively.
“I will continue to do that which I am able to do. I will pray for the Church, reflect on the past, to be vigilant so that nothing from our Church’s past is lost. I would like to hold encounters with the youth, as well as with various professional groups.”
Most Reverend Ihor Vozniak, Archbishop of Lviv (Ukraine) has been appointed Administrator of the Major Archiepiscopal Church. It will be his responsibility to convoke a Synod of the Ukrainian (Greek) Catholic Bishops to elect a new major archbishop. The Synod will most likely take place in Lviv, by the end of March of this year.
Patriarch’s Connections to Canada
As head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Lubomyr Cardinal Husar made five official visits to Canada, and has been a guest in each of the five Ukrainian Greek Catholic eparchies in this country.
In February 2001 while traveling to Australia, he visited Canada for the first time as head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and attended the installation of Most Reverend Michael Wiwchar as Bishop of Saskatoon. In February 2002, he visited Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg, reaching many faithful and religious, as well as addressing Church concerns with government leaders.
In May of 2005, Cardinal Husar called all of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops of Canada together along with the clergy, religious, and wives of clergy for a historic meeting in Winnipeg. During this encounter, they explored the future direction of the Church in Canada.
In February 2006 His Beatitude installed Bishop Lawrence Huculak as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop of Winnipeg and Metropolitan of Canada.
In spring of 2008, His Beatitude held a meeting of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Edmonton. The meeting was held in conjunction with a second encounter similar to the one held three years earlier in Winnipeg. This gathering in Edmonton continued to explore the challenges facing the Church in Canada, under His Beatitude’s guidance and blessing. From Edmonton, Cardinal Husar made a pastoral visit to the Eparchy of New Westminster in British Columbia.
“The visits by His Beatitude Cardinal Husar to Canada brought our faithful throughout the five Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchies (Diocese) much closer to one other, and strengthened the bond of union that we share with our Church in Ukraine,” said Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak commenting on the announcement of His Holiness today. “While I was ordained Bishop of Edmonton under the pastoral leadership of his predecessor, Myroslav Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky, I was installed as Metropolitan of Canada and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop of Winnipeg by Cardinal Husar. In fact, all of the other presiding Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops in Canada have also been assigned to their Eparchies under His Beatitude Lubomyr. We have all come to appreciate his fatherly support, spiritual guidance, and wisdom.”
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops from around the globe will be gathering in Lviv, Ukraine, beginning March 18, for a special Synod called to elect a successor to His Beatitude. The more than 45 members of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church represent not only the Church in Ukraine, but also local churches in North and South America, Australia, as well as in Western and Eastern Europe. The majority of the estimated 6.5 million Ukrainian Greek Catholics reside in Ukraine.
A Brief Biography of Lubomyr Cardinal Husar
Until his resignation, His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, was the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest Sui Juris Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the See of Rome. He remains a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
Born in Lviv, Ukraine, on February 26, 1933, Lubomyr Husar fled from Ukraine with his parents in 1944, ahead of the advancing Soviet army. He spent the early post-World War II years among Ukrainian refugees in a displaced persons camp near Salzburg, Austria. In 1949, he emigrated with his family to the United States of America.
From 1950 to 1954, he studied at St. Basil’s College (Ukrainian) Seminary in Stamford, Connecticut. He continued his studies at Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and at Fordham University in New York. He was ordained a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest of the Eparchy of Stamford on March 30, 1958.
From 1958 to 1969 Fr. Husar taught at St. Basil’s College Seminary, and also between 1966 and 1969 was the pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish in Kerhonkson, New York. In 1969, Fr. Lubomyr went to Rome, where he earned a doctorate in Dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbanian University in 1972. During his stay in Rome he joined the Ukrainian Studite monastic community at the Studion Monastery not far from Castelgandolfo, Italy, and was elected hegumen (superior) of the monastery in 1974.
He was consecrated a bishop in 1977 in the Studion monastery chapel in Castelgandolfo by Patriarch Josyf Cardinal Slipyj. He was named Archimandrite (Abbot) of the Studite Monks in Europe and North America in 1978.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he returned to his native country and served as spiritual director of the newly re-established Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv. In 1994, he established a new Studite monastery near Ternopil, Ukraine.
The Synod of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Bishops elected him Exarch of the Archiepiscopal Exarchy of Kyiv-Vyshhorod in 1995. In 1996, the Synod elected him as auxiliary bishop with special administrative delegated authority to His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop of Lviv. Upon the death of Cardinal Lubachivsky on December 14, 2000, Pope John Paul II named Bishop Husar apostolic administrator of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Lviv.
In January of 2001, the Synod elected him Major Archbishop of the Church and Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The following month, he was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.
In 2001, Cardinal Husar along with the Catholic bishops, clergy and faithful of Ukraine welcomed Pope John Paul II on his first visit to a former Soviet Republic. His Beatitude also became the first Chancellor of the newly established Ukrainian Greek Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. Under his leadership in August 21, 2005, the major archiepiscopal see of Kyiv-Halych was officially transferred to Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine.