An intense life partly spent in exile for being member of a persecuted people. A people that experienced what it means to be persecuted for reasons tied to their faith, like the first Christians. Then, with the beginning of the “perestroika”, the Greek-Catholic Church started to come out of the catacombs, but she was called to face new challenges, the most painful of which is the challenge of ecumenism, along with the reconciliation of the Ukrainian population. We addressed these issues with Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. His Eminence, Archbishop Major of Leopol of the Ukrainians, was born in Leopol (Ukraine) in 1933. During the war, in 1944, he was forced to leave from Ukraine with his family and took refuge in Austria. In 1949 he moved to the United States, where he studied theology. He received his priestly ordination in 1958. In 1977 cardinal Slipyj conferred him the Episcopal ordination and in 1987 elevated him to the rang of Archimandrite of Studite Monks living outside Ukraine. In 1933 he returned to Ukraine and was committed in the rebirth of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, traveled amidst Greeek-Catholic faithful, many of whom descended from families that had been deported by Stalin. In 2001 the bishops of the Ukrainian Church elected him Archbishop Major of Lviv. John Paul II elevated him to cardinalship in 2001. SIR Europe interviewed him. Your Eminence, you have had an intense life; marked by a long period in exile and by the return to your homeland. What do you believe was God’s plan for you? “Just like everyone else’s my life consists of moments which, when they happened, appeared to have random meaning. Only later, especially after having been conferred particular appointments, did I realize that those events had a specific significance and purpose. Each of those events encompassed an experience, which served in the identification of solutions at a later stage, notably to situations that apparently differed from the previous ones. It helped me understand the purpose of what God bestows upon us: instead of planning our lives, it’s best to leave it to the Lord”.Having experienced so much hardship, what is your message to the young generations?“‘Hardship’ is a relative concept. We usually consider all that does not comply with our desires and designs as difficulties, especially when it entails suffering. Only looking behind and reflecting on past events helps us appreciate these difficulties as graces in disguise that help us view the present and the future with serenity. The message to the youth is to ‘never submit'”. Is it true that you are considering resigning? “It’s true that I’m considering passing the lead of our particular Church to someone else – ‘with a warm’ hand, namely before dying or because prevented from fulfilling the post by a serious health condition. In my opinion this enables the passing of the baton in a clear and regular manner. What is most precious to me is well-expressed in the perspective adopted by the Synod of the Bishops of our Church: ‘The Holiness of the united People’, with all the consequences it may entail”.How do you feel when you are told that your Church represents an obstacle for the dialogue between Moscow and Rome? “The recurring objection is that our Church constitutes an obstacle to ecumenism and a drawback for encounters between Churches, which has never been proved true. Rather, it appears to be an excuse, in order to avoid drawing the necessary conclusion, namely that when the will is sincere no obstacle is insurmountable. Those who start counting the obstacles are conditioning the final outcome. Servant of God Pope John Paul II, after his visit to our Country in 2001 described Ukraine as an ‘ecumenical workshop’ where in a very specific way, responding to a singular reality, we are making small steps in the path leading to the encounter of faithful from different Christian traditions which have been disunited until today. Indeed, the path leading to true communion is still very long, but until there’s good will and faith in God hope will continue being present. In this moment our primary concern is to prompt the yearning to recompose Christian unity across the Country”. Ukraine’s political life appears to have no repose. What do you consider to be the foundations for the establishment of civil and democratic life in your Country? “Politically we are the heirs of the Bolshevik regime, which governed the life of our people for sixty years with utmost rigor, simultaneously seeking to destroy the faith in God and replace Christianity with Machiavellian morality. Our task today is to rebuild our society on solid moral pillars, notably evangelical pillars, since we inherited a millenary Christian tradition. There’s no other way”.
Interview with Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, archbishop Major of Kyiv-Halich