On the day that the new patriarch of the Maronite Catholics was enthroned, another major church in full communion with Rome receives a new head as well. After is election on Thursday, the name of the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč and President of the Synod of the Ukrainian Catholic Church was revealed today. And it is the name of the fourth-youngest bishop in the whole of the Catholic Church: almost 40-year-old Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
The Ukrainian Byzantine Church has at least 4 million members in 18 dioceses, 5 archdioceses and 6 exarchates spread across the Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Poland, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom. Until February of this year, the helm of this Byzantine fold of the Catholic Church was in the hands of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who held the post since 2004. New Archbishop Shevchuk was auxiliary bishop of the Argentine diocese from 2009 to early 2010, after which he oversaw that same diocese as apostolic administrator until his election to Kyiv-Halyč.
So another new player enters the field and, considering his young age, will continue to have an influence for decades to come.
EDIT: Two days after his enthronement, Archbishop Shevchuk said that he would ask Pope Benedict XVI to elevate the Ukrainain Church to a patriarchate, saying that “each developing church [becomes] a patriarchate, because a patriarchate is a period in the completion of the development of a church.” If the pope will grant this, remains to be seen. Possible opposition from the Orthodox Church is said to have been a reason for Pope John Paul II to not yet grant this wish, which was also expressed by Cardinal Husar.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin