April 4, 2018


The newest version of ecclesial laws for Ukrainian Catholic faithful was officially promulgated on 4 April 2018 and will take effect on 7 April 2018. This was accomplished by the publishing of both the Decree of Promulgation and the text of the updated version of Particular Law on the Church's official website for this purpose. The full text is presently available at least in Ukrainian [HERE]. A translation into English and other languages will soon appear. An "ad experimentum" version was promulgated on 7 April 2015 which was to be used for three years. During the three years, the bishops, priests and all faithful, were to observe how the law functioned practically and were invited to suggest changes or amendments if they thought it necessary. It is not known how much feedback there was. However, according to the decree of promulgation, the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church did discuss it at their last Synod in Lviv (September 2017) and agreed upon changes to at least 12 of the laws (canons).

The "Particular Law" for the Ukrainian Catholic Church was in the making for many years. On October 18, 1990, when the "universal" or common law for all Eastern Catholic Churches was promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II, the Ukrainian Catholic Church - together with all 22 (+/-) other Eastern Catholic Church - had a complete codex of Church-related laws in one book. The book, "The Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches", tried to provide a common or universal law that would serve all Eastern Churches. The Code contains 1546 Canons (never mind sub-paragraphs!). However, while the Eastern Churches have a lot in common with each other, each of them also has its own history and traditions and way of doing things. So.... that big book also provided at least 150 instances where it basically said "in this matter, it will be up to each Eastern Catholic Church to decide what the rule will be". In most cases, however, the Code does offer a solution in case a particular Church has no particular custom regarding the matter in question.

So that is what this "Particular Law of the Ukrainian Catholic Church" is.... It contains responses to all those instances in the Common Code where the Ukrainian Catholic Church is to make the call as to what the regulation or solution should be.

Now this was no "quick fix" to fill-in-the-blanks as soon as possible. For decades before the 1990 Code was promulgated, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was involved with ongoing research as to what authentic Ukrainian Church law was. Volumes of ancient canons and laws and decrees were collected and published. Ukrainian Catholic Bishops and scholars were consulted throughout the work that led to the issuing of the 1990 Code. However, their work intensified after 1990 as answers would now be needed asap. It was then that hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, together with the Church's canon law experts, started drafting well-documented and applicable responses that would speak to all Ukrainian Catholics, whether in Holy Theophany parish in Kozyova, Ukraine or St. Basil's parish in Edmonton. There were a few versions (of varying authenticity) and a lot of consultation. Finally in 2015, as mentioned above, an official, albeit experimental, version was promulgated. Now, the second version which has no term limit stipulation. So this is it!

When and how the particular law will be implemented in Canada will be decided by Canada's Ukrainian Catholic bishops together and, to some degree, individually in each eparchy.

What is the difference between the new version and that which was promulgated in 2015? Well, a number of things. But one area that will most noticeably affect the life in the parishes are the canons on the Holy Eucharist and liturgical life. These canons will certainly require from the Canadian Bishops explanations for the clergy and lay-faithful alike. However, they will probably suggest even further particular law and, in some cases, possibly exceptions.

It is a definitely an exciting day for those interested in canon law. It is definitely an important day for all members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church as our global community makes a leap forward in uniting all our Faithful throughout the world in a common and universal guarantee of the rights and privileges of all our members.

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