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Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Dismisses the Vatican's Recent Document on Same-Sex Blessings

Published December 25, 2023
7 months ago

In a decisive response to the Vatican’s latest doctrinal document, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has stated that the permissions given to bless same-sex unions do not extend to his church's practices and beliefs. This stern clarification arises amidst a broader debate within the Catholic community regarding the engagement with and recognition of same-sex relationships within the Church's moral framework.

The document in question, as endorsed by Pope Francis, offers a nuanced perspective of the Catholic Church's stance on same-sex unions. It acknowledges the possibility of blessings by Roman Catholic priests for same-sex couples, provided these do not mimic official church rituals or suggest resemblance to heterosexual marriage, which is recognized as a sacrament within the Church.

Although extending an olive branch to the LGBT community by implying that all individuals are embraced by God, the document stops short of equating same-sex unions with sacramental marriage. It thereby maintains a distinction that aligns with the traditional Catholic doctrine, which upholds marriage as a bond exclusively between a man and woman.

Archbishop Shevchuk's statement underscores the autonomy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in doctrinal matters related to its congregation. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church adheres to the Eastern or Greek rites, setting it apart from the Roman Catholic Church in liturgical traditions, despite its communion with the Vatican through the Union of Brest signed in the 16th century. Under the Soviet regime, the church was repressed and operated underground, but it has since resurfaced to represent approximately 10% of Ukraine’s population.

Archbishop Shevchuk emphasized that for his church, any form of blessing must be congruent with the existing teachings of the church, which unequivocally promote the traditional family structure as the union of love, fidelity, and potential for procreation between a man and a woman. This principle, according to Archbishop Shevchuk, is non-negotiable and a core tenet of their belief system, irrespective of the developments within the wider Catholic Church led by the Vatican.

This divergence in doctrinal interpretations points to the complexity and multifaceted nature of the Catholic faith, as well as the varied approaches to sensitive matters such as same-sex unions across its different rites.

In the backdrop of this religious discourse, Ukraine itself is navigating its way through LGBT rights issues, with signs of progressive attitudes gaining ground. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has shown empathy toward the LGBT community's plight, advocating for their rights, but remains firm on the country's constitutional stance regarding marriage during wartime.

As the discussion continues within the confines of the Church and spills over into societal debates, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's position serves as a testament to the varied and deeply held beliefs within Christianity and the challenges of reconciling faith with the dynamics of modern societal values.

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