New norms regarding Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Italy
By Vatican News
Pope Francis has adopted a number of provisions in a rescript that guides the relations between the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Catholic faithful of the Byzantine Rite residing in Italy and the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). The purpose is to enhance the spiritual care for members of the Apostolic Exarchate, which was established on 11 July 2019 with the bull Christo Salvatori.
The document is dated 28 August 2023 and is the outcome of a meeting of Pope Francis with Cardinal-elect Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, last 23 June. The rescript specifies that the Exarchate represents the People of God consisting of members of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church sui iuris, with domicile or semi-domicile in Italy and governed by the Exarch in the name of the Roman Pontiff.
Norms regarding the office of the Exarch
The rescript explains how the Exarch is a member by right of the Italian Episcopal Conference and, consequently, bound by the rules that regulate its functioning, as well as its directives. Furthermore, the Exarch maintains close ties of communion and coordination with the Bishops of the Italian Dioceses and Eparchies in which the Exarchate is present.
The rescript further specifies that before erecting parishes, the Exarch is to consult with the Bishops of the area concerned, and then inform the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches. The Exarch can establish new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life with the permission of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.
Regarding clerical life, the rescript establishes that priests must cultivate a bond of unity with the presbyterate of the Diocese or Eparchy in whose territory they carry out their ministry, while encouraging joint pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities that may come from agreements between the Exarch and the local Bishop. The document also notes that the clergy of the Exarchate and those of the Dioceses or Eparchies in whose territory the personal parish of the Exarchate is located will exercise their ministry in mutual pastoral collaboration.
In conclusion, Pope Francis notes that pastoral service and priests of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church who are in Italy for study reasons are governed by agreements determined by the Italian Episcopal Conference between respective hierarchs and the Exarch, and if signed by a diocesan or eparchial Bishop, also require the authorization of the Exarch.