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"People feel screwed by large systems" Interview with Archbishop Borys Gudziak

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

On March 10th 2019, Metropolitan Borys (Gudziak) was interviewed by Ruslan Petrychka on the Voice of America. His Eminence was recently named the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, whose jurisdiction covers the entire United States. Previously, he was the Ukrainian-Greek-Catholic Bishop of Paris and Western Europe. Bishop Borys was born, raised, and studied in the United States before moving to Ukraine in the 1990s to build the Ukrainian Catholic University. His remarks are translated from Ukrainian in full.


What are your plans for the United States?

Of course, Paris wasn’t an assignment or a job, this was a family. And of course, there’s a great deal of pain in moving away. But I’m coming home. I have many friends here. This is the capital of the Free World. Philadelphia is where the [American] Declaration of Independence was signed, and there are great needs to serve migrants, Americans, and all people of good will. We must exit our ethnic ghetto.

You seem like such a progressive person, at least as far as a priest goes.


What is the direction of the Church, and what is her current purpose in this century?

Today, there is great unrest and struggle in people’s souls. Look at what’s happening in Paris, what American society looks like, Brexit, how Merkel was cast aside, let alone Russian aggression, and other conflicts. People are distressed, and feel screwed by large systems and complexes. Today, it is vital for the Church to help people to communicate from heart to heart — open oneself to God, and to another person.

Of course, this might feel dangerous. We might feel defenseless. But only with earnest interaction, fear falls away and trust builds. Then we can be real human people.

People are distressed, and they feel screwed by large systems and complexes.

What do you think of the news out of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine? How have the last few months since the declaration of autocephaly gone?

I think it’s very important to have, first, unity among the Orthodox, secondly, recognition of their spiritual life since it had been refuted by global Orthodoxy, and third, it creates new opportunities for interdenominational interaction. I am hopeful that they will be receptive.

What’s the current relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church?

We’ve seen in the last several weeks, that Patriarch Sviatoslav has met often with the new head of the Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy. These are both young people. We can hope for the positive, but there are many stereotypes that need to be vanquished.

What kind of stereotypes?

I think there’s a lot of fear in denominational partisanship, for historical reasons that go back centuries. We have an a competitive attitude: if I win, you lose, and visa versa. We hear the argument today over who should or should not pray in the St. Sophia Cathedral.

I think today’s young person, today’s global citizen, needs a Church that is open to God’s presence, and will bring neighbors together. Today, this is an issue for America, in Western Europe, and in Ukraine. Churches must descend from certain pedestals and be among people.

We saw how Pope Francis has caught the globe’s attention, if not popularity, because he gets close to people. He speaks from his heart to the heart. This is what I propose to our faithful, our clergy, and really every person of good faith. We’re entering an era of new global consciousness in this century which strikes fear in many people. Some people want to build walls, but we must build bridges and channels of fraternal generosity and love.

I think today’s young person, today’s global citizen, needs a Church that is open to God’s presence, and will bring neighbors together. Today, this is an issue for America, in Western Europe, and in Ukraine.

Lent begins tomorrow. What recommendations do you have for the stomach and for the soul?

I would like to ask you all for your forgiveness, especially the viewers who know me, and against whom I have sinned. May the Lord forgive us. I forgive.

This is what is most important. It’s not about “what not to eat,” but “who not to devour.” Do not devour your family. Do not devour members of your community, neighbors, coworkers. If we would only chomp on each other less, then the fruits of the Fast would ripen very quickly.

Of course, this ascetic tradition of fasting, of abstinence from certain foods, is very helpful. But I would recommend one more thing. Ease off of the internet, or Facebook. I did this myself, and it was very helpful. I don’t know of this transitional period will allow me to do much of that, but I will do my best.

Please pray that after 10pm, I can resist the urge to turn on my computer.

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