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Patriarch Josyf Slipij and the Third Rome of Kievan-Rus’

No doubt in part to avoid the expected, senseless objections of the Roman Curia, in 1908 St. Pope Pius X conferred in private audience to Metropolitan Andrij Sheptytskij a mandate to care for all Catholics of the Kievan-Rus’ Church (often referred to as “Ukrainian Catholics”) the whole world over; yes, regardless where they were dispersed throughout the globe.

Since, like all bishops east or west, the Metropolitan’s jurisdiction was not only circumscribed (i.e., over souls in a defined territory of diocese or dioceses) but also personal (that is, over persons, regardless of location); and since his spiritual children were dispersed over the globe’s habitable continents, the Pope explicitly recognized a kind of universal jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Archbishop Major of the Kievan-Rus’ Church in sui orbis — “in his own orbit”, which is to say, over his own spiritual children.

In effect, the Pope under very special circumstances of the times: a few years before the rise of atheistic communism in the East: found occasion to grant a patriarchal-prelate a share in the universal jurisdiction that belongs most properly — and in its own way also uniquely — to the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope of Rome.

Whether that sort of ‘patriarchal’ universal jurisdiction was given ad personam only to Metropolitan Andrij and/or inherited by his successor, Josyf Slipij, is a matter of some question.

But one thing is more evident. From the Pope’s act in 1908 comes a recognition by the Holy See that the Church born in Kievan-Rus’ has become really what the Muscovites claimed for the Church of Kievan-Rus’: another “Third Rome”. But this time not — as befits, rather, some secular notion of the Church’s nature — a substitute, rival or usurper of Elder Rome as too often projected by the Muscovites, but instead a sharer in Elder Rome’s eternal spiritual romanity.

Click here to view one facsimile of the 13 notarized copies of the documents (in NCCL’s possession) recording the faculties provided Archbishop-Metropolitan Andrij Sheptytskij by St. Pope Pius X in February of 1908. Click here to read the same documents’ which adjoin the correspondences with the Postulator of Archbishop Andrij’s canonisation, Bishop Michael Hrynchyshyn, C.S.s.R., Exarch of France for the Kievan (Ukrainian) Catholic Church.

For the whole story and correspondence with Bishop Michael, click here.


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