Voices from Russia

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Fr Gavriil Kostelnik, the Initiator of the 1946 Union of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church with the MP, Could be Canonised

A view of the Old Town section of Lvov


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church/MP said that there’s a possibility to canonise Fr Gavriil Kostelnik (1886-1948), who initiated the council with the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church that led to the unification of Uniates and Orthodox in 1946. The UOC/MP is now studying the appropriate documentation, Archbishop Avgustin of Lvov and Galicia said, as cited in Religious Information Service of the Ukraine on Monday. “According to our procedure of canonisation, a Martyr truly had to suffer for Christ or for the Church, not die by chance. Moreover, he shouldn’t be a heretic or a schismatic. As for the Righteous, the Reverend Fathers, evidence of their sanctity of life and authority is necessary. Kostelnik is somewhere in the middle between a Martyr and a Righteous”, Vladyki Avgustin said during a press conference in Lvov. He noted that the main task today is to explain some of Father Gavriil’s complex theological formulas and to examine his positions on a number of questions. According to Archbishop Avgustin, the process of canonisation will last at least a year. “Firstly, it is necessary to study all the details and only then to suggest his name to the Commission on Canonisation and to the Holy Synod”, he explained.

On 19-20 September, the Diocese of Lvov of the UOC/MP celebrated the 60th anniversary of the murder of Fr Gavriil. Fr Gavriil was at first a priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, but then he converted to Orthodoxy on 23 February 1946, being received by Metropolitan Ioann of Kiev. He was the ideological heir of the Galician-Russian confessors of Orthodoxy who were killed in concentration camps during the First World War by the Hapsburg authorities. Fr Gavriil was the organiser of the Lvov Council of 1946, where it was decided to abrogate the decisions of the Uniate Council of Brest of 1596, where the Uniates resolved to “break with the Vatican and to return to the native Orthodox faith“. In July 1948, Fr Gavriil took an active part in the celebrations in Moscow on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Russian Orthodox Church. On 20 September 1948, after liturgy in the Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Lvov, on the way home, he was killed by two shots from a pistol. The murderer was surrounded by a crowd of believers, but he shot himself. Vasili Pankov, Fr Gavriil’s killer, was a member of a terrorist group led by Roman Shukhevich, the chief of the so-called “Ukrainian Insurgent Army” (UPA) {Roman Shukhevich collaborated with the Nazis and was an SS officer in World War II, and he was convicted of murder in pre-war Poland. The UPA was a Galician al Qaeda. When you support “Ukrainian nationalism”, you support such bestiality: editor}.

23 September 2008




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