Wednesday 25 November 2009

The Episcopal Conference of 1932

  The Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is scheduled to begin next week.  Before Pope John Paul II granted a synodal structure to our Church (in 1980), instead of synods the bishops held semi-annual episcopal conferences.  What follows is a translation of the opening paragraph of the decree issued by the bishops at the close of such a conference, which took place in Rome from 9-15 November 1932: 

“We the undersigned Ruthenian Bishops, congregated in this Alma Urbe [Mother Rome] express our utmost gratitude to the Supreme Pontiff for the kingly, nay magnificent Seminary building of St. Josaphat, the very building in which our Conference was held.  Besides those present, His Excellency the Metropolitan of Halych, afflicted by a grave illness, was absent from our midst, and also our bishops from America and Canada were impeded and could not come to Rome nor take part in our Conference.  Although absent, some bishops made their presence felt by telegraph and by sending delegates to the Holy Father, to the Sacred Congregation [of the Oriental Church] and also to the same Conference, for which they were deputized to cast their votes.”

The 1932 conference was significant, particularly for the drafting of a statute to be observed at all future conferences.   Following its conclusion, the Oriental Congregation asked the Apostolic Nuncio in Warsaw to comment on the Ukrainian bishops’ resolutions.  Writing to Cardinal Sincero on 22 December 1933, Nuncio Marmaggi observed that “the Conference was very occupied with matters of lesser importance, all the while leaving aside issues which should have merited the consideration of their Excellencies." The absence of Sheptytsky, their primate, might have been a factor in their inability to focus on more essential points.