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Pope updates status of Ukrainian Catholic faithful in Italy

Ukrainian flag St. Peter's Basilica

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 09/03/23

The new norms make the Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Italy (established in 2019) a member of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Pope Francis has issued norms for the relations between the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholic faithful of the Byzantine rite present in Italy — which he had erected on July 11, 2019 — and the Italian Episcopal Conference, in a rescript published August 28, 2023, by the Holy See. This hierarchical structure enables Catholics of this rite who have emigrated to Italy to preserve their identity, explains the text. 

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s faithful domiciled in Italy numbered more than 70,000 in 2019. This figure has grown notably with the influx of Ukrainians fleeing war in their homeland. There are currently 174 of these communities on Italian soil — up from 145 in 2019 — and 75 priests, up from 62 in 2019. The cathedral and headquarters of the exarchate are located at the church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Rome, and the exarch is Bishop Dionisio Lachovicz, who is originally from Brazil. 

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The rescript is signed by the prefect of the dicastery for Eastern Churches, Cardinal-designate Claudio Gugerotti. With the canonical status it establishes, the exarchate is now a member of the Italian Episcopal Conference and maintains links with the bishops of the dioceses where it is present on the territory of the peninsula. Priests of the exarchate are invited to carry out joint pastoral and charitable initiatives with diocesan priests. 

Before erecting a parish, the exarch must seek the opinion of the local bishop, then inform the dicastery for the Eastern Churches. He may also erect institutes of consecrated life with the approval of the dicastery. 

The members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church will gather in Rome for their annual Synod from September 3 to 13. In welcoming them in 2019, the Argentine Pontiff expressed his attachment to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic liturgy, which he discovered as a teenager.

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