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from issue no. 11 - 2003


Slipyj’s pupil

by Gianni Valente

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar

The curriculum vitae of Cardinal Husar reflects the current profile of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Eastern rite, between attachment to its own traditions and the capacity to act with shrewdness in the cosmopolitan context of globalization. He was born in 1933 in Leopolis, in Western Ukriane, but when he wa 11, in 1944, his family fled the Ukraine, ravaged by the war, before the Soviet army overcame the Nazis. The young Lubomyr’s early training took place within the influential Ukrainian Greek Catholic diaspora in the United States. He studied at the Catholic University of Washington and at Fordham University in New York. Ordained priest in 1958, for the Eparchy of Stamford of the Ukrainians, in Connecticut, he taught in the local seminary of Saint Basil and in 1966 became the parish priest of Kerhonkson. In 1969 he moved to Rome. In 1972 he presented his doctorate in Ecclesiology at the Pontifical Urbanian University with a thesis on the ecumenism of Archbishop Andreas Szeptyckyj. In 1973 he entered the community of the Studites as a monk and 1974 became superior of the Stoudion monastery in Grottaferrata. In exile in Rome since 1963, after surviving eighteen years in prison camps, Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, legendary head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, became his mentor, and on 2 April 1977 consecrated him bishop in the chapel of the Studite monastery, along with his secretary Ivan Choma. A gesture by which the impetuous Slipyj also intended to affirm his prerogatives as head of his own Church. But the two ordinations are not officially recognized by the Pope, and the Synod of the Greek Catholic Church also prudently chooses not to reveal them to the faithful. In 1978 Husar was nominated Archimandrite of the Studite monks of Europe and America. In his long Roman period he also becomes the Vicar General to Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, Slipyj’s successor. In 1993, along with his companions from the Studite monastic community of Castel Gandolfo, he returned to his homeland. But only eighteen years after his consecration did his episcopal nomination become public knowledge, when the Synod of Ukrainian bishops named him head of the newly erected Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Kiev in 1995. From 1996, with the declining health of Cardinal Lubachivsky, he was nominated auxiliary to the senior archbishop of the See of Leopolis, with special responsibilities in the pastoral government of the Archdiocese.
On the death of Lubachivsky, on 25 January 2001 the Greek Catholic Synod elected him Senior Archbishop of Leopolis of the Ukrainians. On 26 January the Pope confirms the nomination and a few days afterwards reveals a second list of Cardinals called to receive the purple in the already announced Consistory of 21 February 2001, in which the name of Husar also appeared.

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