Ukraine's Cardinal Husar: 'Death has not extinguished his voice'

"In this hour of sorrow ACN stands united with Greek Catholic believers in Ukraine."

By Eva-Maria Kolmann 

On May 31, 2017, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the long-time leader of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, passed away. Baron Johannes Heereman, president of international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), paid tribute to the cardinal, who was 84, as a “true man of God” and a “Church leader of profound wisdom and circumspection.”

The cardinal, who served as major archbishop of his Church from 2001 to 2011, worked intensively with ACN for many years and was a close friend of Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the organization.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar.A.jpg

In May 2015, the cardinal spoke “of this close connection with deep emotion” and had emphasized “the courage with which Father Werenfried had dared to approach all people after the [World War II]—even former enemies—and call for reconciliation.” At the time, the cardinal also expressed his concerns about the future of the young generation, Baron Heereman said, adding: “I can still recall the words that he spoke so clearly with his quiet and melodic, yet so emphatic voice. It was a voice that had much to say to the world and that was heard and respected by many people in the Ukraine and far beyond—and not only by Catholics. I am sure that death has not extinguished this voice, quite the contrary.”

Back then, the cardinal had warned that many people in Ukraine had yet to overcome the communist legacy. He said that it was necessary “to study Soviet times with care in order to be in a position to help young people avoid these mistakes in the future.” However, on the other hand, Cardinal Husar also emphasised that it was necessary to closely consider “what alternatives are being offered to the youth and whether one is looking at the right models.” Western Europe, he argued, was also “not an ideal model.”

“In this hour of sorrow,” ACN stands “united with Greek Catholic believers in the Ukraine,” Baron Heereman continued. “We join them in praying to God that He may grant the deceased eternal light. In countless churches, voices will be raised in song for him: Vichnaya pamyat—‘may he be eternally remembered.’ Aid to the Church in Need joins in this prayer and this wish.”

ACN already supported the Church in Ukraine during Soviet times, when it was only possible to practice the faith underground. Cardinal Husar once wrote to Father Werenfried van Straaten: “Today it can openly be said that, up until the end of the communist era, you were the only Church organization to send aid to the Church in the Ukraine and you have remained the greatest benefactor of the Ukrainian Church.”

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, ACN helped the Church in the Ukraine rebuild its infrastructure and strengthen its pastoral mission; the organization continues to support numerous projects there today.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar in 2015; ACN photo


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