Ukraine's Catholic leader on visit
            Touring canada National identity a priority: cardinal

                  LEVON SEVUNTS
                   The Gazette

                   Saturday, February 22, 2003

                   Twelve years after regaining independence the biggest problem
                   still facing Ukraine is the creation of a national identity, the head
                   of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church said yesterday.

                   Speaking after a special service at the St. Michael's Church in the
                   east end of Montreal, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar said one of the
                   missions of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church is to work on
                   forging this identity and healing the wounds left by 70 years of Soviet
                   rule and centuries of religious schisms.

                   Husar is in Montreal as part of an 18-day visit to the 500,000-strong
                   Ukrainian Catholic community in Canada.

                   There is a worrying tendency toward regionalism in Ukraine, said
                   Husar, who is the leader of world's 5 million Ukrainian Greco-Catholics.

                   Ukrainian society is also divided by faith. Most Ukrainians are, at
                   least nominally, followers of the Orthodox faith. But there are three
                   rival Orthodox churches in the country.

                   The Greco-Catholics, who are in full communion with the Roman
                   Catholic Church but have maintained the Byzantine rites and canonical
                   laws, are a large minority.

                   The members of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church were among the
                   most persecuted minorities in the Soviet Union.

                   The church was banned, driven underground and thousands of its
                   members shot or imprisoned in labour camps in Siberia.

                   "We will do our share to underline unity," Husar said, admitting,
                   however, that to date relations with the Orthodox churches are not
                   very good.

                   Husar said that in the continuing transition from a totalitarian system
                   that existed in the Soviet Union to a form of democracy the church must
                   be diligent in upholding a just social system and the rule of law.

                   The contribution of diaspora Ukrainians who have lived in democratic
                   societies is particularly important, Husar said.

                   Addressing about 80 faithful who attended the service in St. Michael's,
                   Husar urged his flock to remember the sacrifice of the thousands who
                   died in Soviet concentration camps but never renounced their faith.
                   These martyrs are perhaps one of the greatest spiritual treasures that
                   the church has today, he said.

<>                   He also urged Montreal Ukrainian Greco-Catholics to pass their
                   traditions to the younger generation

                  lsevunts@thegazette.canwest.com

Copyright 2003 Montreal Gazette