The Eastern church’s new young archbishop sat down for a chat with CNS this week.
And he had some interesting things to say about his church and vocations:
The new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, its youngest bishop, said he believes the other bishops elected him to promote unity within the church and with other Christians.
The 40-year-old Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, visiting Rome to meet Pope Benedict XVI, told Catholic News Service he believes he was elected “despite my age.”
Ukrainian bishops from around the world, who met in a synod in late March to elect a new major archbishop for their church, were looking for a leader who could “unite the church in Ukraine and outside Ukraine,” who could “promote the unity of Christians in Ukraine and establish some sort of dialogue with the new Ukrainian government,” he told CNS March 30 at the Ukrainian church office in Rome.
Archbishop Shevchuk said the suffering — including imprisonment and martyrdom — endured by Ukrainian Catholics under the Soviet regime from 1946 to 1989 “was a sacrifice for communion with the See of Peter” and the Catholic Church…
…Archbishop Shevchuk also said his age is not really so shocking when one considers the fact that the average age of his priests is about 35.
“In our tradition, we do have a married clergy, but a married clergy is not the main reason we have so many young priests,” he said.
The large number of priests in their 30s and 40s today is the result of young people looking for strong values when communism fell apart 20 years ago and finding those values in the church, the archbishop said.
Religious orders, which accept only candidates willing to embrace celibacy, were just as full as the seminaries, which accept married men, he said.
“The possibility of being a married priest is not the main cause of an increase or decrease in vocations to the priesthood because this vocation comes from God,” he said.
There’s much more. Read the rest.