2008-09-23 12:16:00

The initiator of elimination of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church could be canonized

Kiev, September 23, Interfax - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church leaves open the possibility to canonize the priest Gabriel Kostelnik who was the initiator of the elimination of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and the unification of Uniates and Orthodox.

The Church has already begun to work at appropriate documents, Archbishop Augustine of Lvov and Galicia said, cited by Religious Information Service of Ukraine.

"According to our procedure of canonization, a martyr really had to suffer for Christ or for the Church, but not to die by chance. Moreover he shouldn't be a heretic or a schismatic. As for the pious, the Reverend Fathers, there should be the sanctity of life and authority. Kostelnik is somewhere in between a martyr and a pious", the Archbishop said during the press conference in Lvov.

He noticed that the main task today is to explain some Father Gabriel's complex teological formulas, his positions on a set of questions. According to Archbishop Augustine, the process of canonization will last at least a year.

"First it is necessary to study all details and to suggest his figure for the Commission on Canonization and for the Holy Synod", the hierarch explained.

Lvov Diocese of the Ukraine Orthodox Church celebrated on September, 19-20, 60th anniversary of the death of Father Gabriel.

Fr. Gabriel (first the priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, then - of the Russian Orthodox Church) came to Orthodoxy since 1920's, when the NKVD destroyed the Church. He was the ideological heir of Galician-Russian confessors of Orthodoxy who were killed at concentration camps before the First World War.

Fr. Gabriel became also the organizer of the Lvov Council in 1946, where it was decided to abolish the decisions of the Uniate Brest Council in 1596, to "break with the Vatican and to return to the native Orthodox faith".

In July 1948, Fr. Gabriel took an active part in the celebrations in Moscow on the occasion of 500th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Russian Orthodox Church. On September 20, 1948, after liturgy in the Transfiguration Cathedral in Lvov, he was killed by two shots from a handgun on the way home. The murderer was surrounded by a crowd of believers and shot himself. He was a member of a terrorist group, led by Roman Shukhevich, chief of the Ukrainian Rebel Army (UPA).