Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church

The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, also known in the United States as the Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church that uses the Byzantine Rite for its liturgies, laws, and cultural identity. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches that are in full communion with the Holy See. There are two main communities within the church: American and European. In the United States, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is self-governing (sui iuris). In Europe, Ruthenian Catholics are immediately subject to the Holy See. The European branch has an eparchy in Ukraine (the Eparchy of Mukacheve) and another in the Czech Republic (the Ruthenian Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic).

The Ruthenian Catholic Church is rooted among the Rusyn people who lived in Carpathian Ruthenia. This part of the Carpathian Mountains straddles the borders of the present-day states of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Today, the church is multi-ethnic. Members of the metropolitan province of Pittsburgh are predominantly English-speaking. Most are descendants of Rusyns – including sub-groups like the Boikos, Hutsuls and Lemkos – but the descendants of other nationalities are also present such as Slovaks, Hungarians and Croats as well as those of non-Slavic and non-Eastern European ancestry. The modern Eparchy of Mukacheve in Ukraine is mostly Ukrainian speaking and remains officially part of the greater Ruthenian Church.

Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church
ClassificationEastern Catholic
PrimateMetropolitan William C. Skurla
AssociationsCongregation for the Oriental Churches
RegionUnited States, Czech Republic and Ukraine
LiturgyByzantine Rite
HeadquartersPittsburgh, PA, United States
Merger ofUnion of Uzhhorod
Other name(s)Byzantine Catholic Church (US only)


The Ruthenian Church originally developed among the Rusyn people of Carpathian Ruthenia as a result of the missionary outreach of Saints Cyril and Methodius who brought Christianity and the Byzantine Rite to the Slavic peoples in the 9th century. After the separation of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in 1054, the Ruthenian Church retained its Orthodox ties.[1][2]

With the 1646 Union of Uzhhorod, 63 Ruthenian clergy were received into the Catholic Church, and in 1664 a union reached at Mukachevo brought additional communities into the Catholic communion.[2][3] The resulting dioceses retained their Byzantine patrimony and liturgical traditions, and their bishops were elected by a council composed of Basilian monks and eparchial clergy.

After almost a thousand years of Hungarian rule the region became, in part, incorporated in Czechoslovakia after World War I. Annexation to the Soviet Union after the war led to persecution of the Ruthenian Catholic Church.[4] However, since the collapse of Communism the Ruthenian Catholic Church in Eastern Europe has seen a resurgence in numbers of faithful and priests.[5]

United States

Metropolitan Judson White Klobuk 1996
Metropolitan Judson Procyk (1931–2001) holds the cross for veneration after Vespers at a monastery pilgrimage in California

In the 19th and 20th centuries, various Byzantine-Rite Catholics from Austria-Hungary arrived in the United States, particularly in coal mining towns.[1] Members of the predominant Latin Church Catholic hierarchy were sometimes disturbed by what they saw as the innovation, for the United States, of a married Catholic clergy. At their persistent request, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith applied, on 1 May 1897, to the United States[6] rules already set out in a letter of 2 May 1890 to François-Marie-Benjamin Richard, the Archbishop of Paris.[7] These rules stated that only celibates and widowed priests coming without their children should be permitted in the United States. The dissatisfaction of many Ruthenian Catholics had already given rise to some groups placing themselves under the jurisdiction of what is today the Orthodox Church in America (at that time a mission of the Russian Orthodox Church). The leader of this movement was the widowed Ruthenian Catholic priest Alexis Toth, whose mistreatment by Archbishop John Ireland of Saint Paul, Minnesota, lead to Toth's conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. He brought with him many Ruthenian Catholic converts, around 20,000 by the time of his death with many who followed afterward, and was canonized a saint by the Orthodox Church in America in 1996.

The situation with Alexis Toth and the Latin Catholic bishops highlighted the need for American Eastern Catholics to have their own bishop. Pope Pius X appointed the Ukrainian bishop Soter Ortynsky in 1907 as bishop for all Slavic Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine rite in America. For this period the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics were united to the Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the same eparchy. Ethnic tensions flared due to cultural differences (mostly of a political nature) between Ukrainians who came from Austrian-ruled Galicia and the Rusyns and other Byzantine Catholics who came from the Kingdom of Hungary. This caused Rome to split the groups after Ortynsky's death by creating a new separate eparchy especially for Byzantine Catholics coming from Hungary - mostly Rusyns but also ethnic Hungarians, Slovaks, and Croats. The Rusyn priest Basil Takach was appointed and ordained in Rome on his way to America as the new eparchy's bishop. Bishop Takach is considered the first bishop of Ruthenian Catholics in America, and his appointment as the official founding of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh.

Clerical celibacy of American Eastern Catholics was restated with special reference to the Byzantine/Ruthenian Church by the 1 March 1929 decree Cum data fuerit, which was renewed for a further 10 years in 1939. In 1938 the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese was created when 37 Ruthenian parishes were received into the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch.

Relations with the Latin Church Catholic hierarchy have improved, especially since the Second Vatican Council, at which the Ruthenian Church influenced decisions regarding using the vernacular (i.e. the language of the people) in the liturgy[8] (Unlike the former custom in the Latin Church, the Ruthenian Church always celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, an ancient Slavic language.) In its decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum the Second Vatican Council declared:

"The Catholic Church holds in high esteem the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and the established standards of the Christian life of the Eastern Churches, for in them, distinguished as they are for their venerable antiquity, there remains conspicuous the tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church."[9]

The Second Vatican Council urged the Eastern Rite Churches to eliminate liturgical Latinization and to strengthen their Eastern Christian identity. In June 1999 the Council of Hierarchs of the Byzantine Metropolitan Church Sui Iuris of Pittsburgh U.S.A. promulgated the norms of particular law to govern itself. In January 2007, the Revised Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Revised Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great were promulgated. In December 2013, the Pope approved the request of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches that appropriate Eastern Church authorities be granted the faculty to allow pastoral service of Eastern married clergy also outside the traditional Eastern territory.

Membership of the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church is not limited to those who trace their heritage to Eastern Europe.


The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church has four eparchies in the United States and one eparchy plus an Apostolic Exarchate in Europe. As of 2016, its membership was estimated at some 419,500 faithful, with seven bishops, 664 parishes, 557 priests, 76 deacons, and 192 men and women religious[10]

Metropolia of Pittsburgh (one archeparchy, three suffragan eparchies, approximately 22,500 faithful)

Immediately subject to the Holy See: (approximately 397,500 faithful)

One issue preventing organization of the Ruthenian Catholic Church under a single synod is the desire of some of the priests and faithful of the Eparchy of Mukacheve that it should be part of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.[11]


See also


  1. ^ a b Paul Robert Magocsi. "Carpatho-Rusyn Americans".
  2. ^ a b "The Ruthenian Catholic Church". Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  3. ^ Pope John Paul II (April 18, 1996). "The 350th anniversary of the Union of Uzhorod". EWTN. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  4. ^ "Ruthenian Church". Eastern Catholic Pastoral Association of Southern California. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
  5. ^ "Uzhhorod Union of 1646". Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.
  6. ^ "Collectanea". n. 1966.
  7. ^ "Acta Sanctae Sedis" (PDF). 24. S. Congr. de Propaganda Fide. 1891–92: 390–391.
  8. ^ KEVIN R. YURKUS. "The Other Catholics: A Short Guide to the Eastern Catholic Churches".
  9. ^ Catholic Church (Second Vatican Council) (November 21, 1964). "Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches". Holy See.
  10. ^ Ronald Roberson. "The Eastern Catholic Churches Statistics". Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
  11. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi, Ivan Pop. "Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo".

Further reading

External links

General Information:





Coordinates: 48°37′24″N 22°18′08″E / 48.6232°N 22.3022°E

Basil Shereghy

Monsignor Basil Shereghy (1918 – 1988) was a leading Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church priest and professor, as well as a cultural activist for Rusyns in the United States.

He was born in Dorobratovo, Austria-Hungary (historic Czechoslovakia (1918–1939), Hungary (1939–45), now Ukraine). Ordained in 1942 in the Eparchy of Mukachevo, he taught in the Greek Catholic seminary in Uzhorod during World War II.

In 1946 he emigrated to the US, serving for the rest of his life in the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh. He worked as a professor of language and liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He also was a longtime editor (1970–1986) of the diocesan newspaper Byzantine Catholic World, which he co-founded.

Basil Takach

Basil Takach (October 27, 1879 – May 13, 1948) was the first bishop of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the American branch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

Byzantine Discalced Carmelites

The Byzantine Discalced Carmelites are communities of cloistered nuns and friars (in Bulgaria only), belonging to several Eastern Catholic Churches – the Bulgarian Byzantine Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, the Ordinariate for Eastern Catholics in France and the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, living committed to a life of prayer, according to the eremitic tradition and lifestyle of the Discalced Carmelites.

Catholic Church in Ukraine

The Catholic Church in Ukraine (Ukrainian: Католицька церква в Україні) is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.

The majority of Catholics in Ukraine belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, while significant numbers of others belong to the Latin Church (known as Roman Catholic), Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, or Armenian Catholic Church.

George Kuzma

George Martin Kuzma (July 24, 1925 – December 7, 2008) was an American Bishop for the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

At the age of 30, Kuzma was ordained as a Priest. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Passaic, New Jersey on November 11, 1986. He was later appointed Bishop of Van Nuys, California on October 23, 1990. He retired from the post on December 5, 2000. He was succeeded by Bishop William Skurla.

Kuzma died on December 7, 2008 and is buried in Uniontown, PA.

Greek Catholic Church

The Greek Catholic Church refers to a number of Eastern Catholic Churches following the Byzantine (Greek) liturgy, considered collectively or individually.

The terms Greek Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Greek Catholic church and Greek-Catholic Church may refer to:

Individually, any 14 of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches which use the Byzantine rite, a.k.a. Greek Rite:

the Albanian Greek Catholic Church

the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church

the Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia

the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, in Greece and Turkey

the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church

the Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (officially the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic)

the Russian Greek Catholic Church

the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church

the Slovak Greek Catholic Church

the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Any other group of Eastern Catholics following the Byzantine rite:

the Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics

an Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful without proper ordinary, in 6 countries

The Catholic Church in Greece, a Roman Catholic hierarchy following the Latin rite in the country of Greece

Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo

The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Mukachevo is an eparchy (diocese) associated with the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church under an unidentified status and territory located in the west of Ukraine, roughly equivalent with Zakarpatska Oblast. The eparchy was created by the Pope Clement XIV in 1771.

The eparchy is in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Its parishes observe the Byzantine Rite which is also celebrated by the majority of Orthodox Christians, and as provided for in the original terms of the Union of Uzhhorod.

The eparchy is a mother eparchy of at least three modern metropoles, i.e., the Slovak Greek Catholic Church, the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, and the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church, as well as the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.

Ivan Ljavinec

Ivan Ljavinec (18 April 1923 – 9 December 2012) was a Czech hierarch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

Ljavinec was born in Volovec, Czechoslovakia (now in Ukraine) and ordained a priest on 28 July 1946. Ljavinec was appointed titular bishop of Acalissus as well as Apostolic Exarch of the Apostolic Exarchate in the Czech Republic on 18 January 1996 and consecrated a bishop on 30 March 1996. Ljavinec retired as apostolic exarch on 23 April 2003.

He lived as the Apostolic Exarch emeritus in the House of St. Elżbeta in Žernůvka, Czech Republic, where died. His body was transferred in Ukraine and, on 15 December 2012, buried in his native Volovec.

John Stephen Pazak

John Stephen Pazak, C.Ss.R. (born August 13, 1946 in Gary, Indiana) is an American-born member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly known as the Redemptorists, who serves as an eparch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church. Since July 2016 he has served as the Eparch of the Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Protection of Mary, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Judson Procyk

Judson Michael Procyk (April 9, 1931 – April 24, 2001) was the third Metropolitan Archbishop of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh, the American branch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

Ladislav Hučko

Ladislav Hučko (born February 6, 1948) is a Czech hierarch of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

Hučko was born in Prešov, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia) and ordained a priest on March 30, 1996. Hučko was appointed titular bishop of Horaea as well as Apostolic Exarch of the Apostolic Exarchate in the Czech Republic on April 24, 2003 and ordained a bishop on May 31, 2003.

Paul Zatkovich

Paul Zatkovich (Rusyn: Жатковіч) (1852—1916) was a newspaper editor and cultural activist for Rusyns in the United States.

He was born in Ungvar, in the Ung County of the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Ukraine), where his father George Zatkovich was a professor in a school for cantors of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church. He was educated in the Royal Gymnasium at Uzhhorod and later completed a course in notarial studies. He then worked as a notary public for fifteen years in various Rusyn villages. He married Irma Zlockij and they had six children.

He emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1891 and was among the founders of the Greek Catholic Union of Rusyn Brotherhoods, a fraternal benefit association. He was the founding editor of its newspaper, Amerikansky Russky Viestnik.

His son Gregory Zatkovich played a leading role for Rusyns during the establishment of the nation of Czechoslovakia.

Paul Zatkovich died in Brooklyn, New York, on October 8, 1916, and was buried in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Peter Anthony Libasci

Peter Anthony Libasci (born 9 November 1951) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who serves as the tenth and current Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. He is also a bi-ritual priest, being permitted to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and administer the sacraments in both the Latin Church and the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.


Prostopinije (meaning Plain Chant in Rusyn) is a type of monodic church chant, closely related to Znamenny Chant. Prostopinije is used in the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, Slovak Greek Catholic Church and among the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox.

The tradition of Prostopinije chant is used in the lands of Galicia, Volhyn and Ruthenia. The Prostopinije traces its roots to the Slavic traditions of Old Kievan chant and Bulgarian chant, both stemming from the ancient Byzantine chant tradition; however, it was also affected by the local folk Carpathian music. The Prostopinije chant is purely monodic, lacking ison or any other support, as well as folk choral polyphony. Melodically, Prostopinije resembles Znamenny Chant, and is closely related to it historically, but is considerably richer with chromatic movements, reflecting its relative closeness to the Bulgarian branch of the Byzantine tradition.

Ruthenian Catholic Apostolic Administration of Târgul-Siret

The Ruthenian Catholic Apostolic Administration of Târgul-Siret was a short-lived 20th century Interbellum permanent Apostolic Administration (pre-diocesan missionary jurisdiction) of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church sui iuris (Eastern Catholic, notably Byzantine Rite) in Romania.

Ruthenian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic

The Ruthenian (Greek) Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Czech Republic, also known as the Apostolic Exarchate in the Czech Republic, is an Eastern Catholic institution overseeing Catholics of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church. It uses the localized Byzantine Rite in archaic Slavonic language and is based in the Czech Republic.

It's cathedral episcopal see is Katedrála sv. Klimenta, located in the Czech national capital, Prague.

Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Parma

The Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Parma (Latin: Eparchia Parmensis Ruthenorum), commonly but imprecisely called Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, a suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh (depending on the Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches), is the eparchy (Eastern Catholic diocese) of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the Midwestern United States, in practice governing most Byzantine Rite Catholics in the Midwestern United States, hence informally also known as Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma. Its headquarters are located in Parma, Ohio. The Eparchy's Bishop is Milan Lach, SJ.

Its episcopal seat is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio.

St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church Toledo

St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church Oregon (Toledo), Ohio

St. Michael parish is a Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, which uses the Divine Liturgy of the Byzantine Rite. Accordingly, St. Michael is in full communion with the Bishop of Rome (more commonly referred to as the Pope of Rome) and is a parish within the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma.

Union of Uzhhorod

The Union of Uzhhorod, also referred to as Union of Ungvár, was the 1646 decision of 63 Ruthenian Orthodox priests from the south slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, then within the Kingdom of Hungary, to join the Catholic Church on terms similar to the Union of Brest from 1596 in the lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The modern result of this union is the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church.

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