Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bishop Soter Ortynsky

Unfortunately, Bishop Soter Ortynsky was a Ukrainian nationalist. Consequently, he was much opposed by the Rusyn clergy in the United States after he became the first Eastern Catholic bishop in the United States in 1907. 
Despite his Ukrainian nationalism, Ortynsky fought for the Church. He manfully ignored offensive and inappropriate aspects of Ea Semper, such as its prohibition of infant chrismation and married priesthood.[1] If the Rusyn clergy knew then what we now know about the conflicts and schisms that would result over the latter issue, then they may have lessened their ethnic and political opposition to Ortynsky. Had Ortynsky not died so young (at the age of 50), he may have been able to maintain important Eastern traditions and to work for Slavic Byzantine Catholic unity. As it happened, he was replaced by two bishops - one for the Ukrainians and another for the Rusyns. In my opinion, this division along ethnic lines has not, in the long run, served well either the Rusyn or the Ukrainian Churches .

[1] Ea Semper Articles 10, 12, 14. 

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