Basil Kovpak

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Basil Kovpak (Ukrainian: Василь Ковпак, Vasyl' Kovpak) is a Ukrainian Traditionalist Catholic priest and the founder and current head of the Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat. Formerly a priest of the Archeparchy of Lviv of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Kovpak was excommunicated by the UGCC in 2007.

Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat[edit]

Supported and funded by the Society of Saint Pius X, the Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat extends the SSPX's traditionalist critique of current Catholic Church practices to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. It opposes some decisions of the Second Vatican Council and aspects of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue practised by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Holy See.

The Society also opposes the replacement of the traditional Church Slavonic language by the vernacular Ukrainian language in the liturgy, and opposes liturgical de-latinisation, the removal of Latin Rite practices such as Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross, which had been adopted within the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Dispute with Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church authorities[edit]

On 10 February 2004, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop of Lviv and Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, declared that Kovpak, through his close links to the SSPX, had incurred excommunication by "recognis(ing) the uncanonical foreign Bishop Bernard Fellay, who does not recognise the authority of the Pope of Rome and is not united with the Catholic Church."[1] Kovpak denied that he recognised Bishop Fellay as his own canonical bishop, and declared his intention to appeal to the Vatican.[2] The Holy See accepted his appeal and declared the excommunication null for lack of canonical form.[3]


Kovpak was definitively excommunicated in November 2007[4] after having the Latin-Rite SSPX bishop Richard Williamson ordain two priests and seven deacons for his society in spite of the prohibition in canons 1015 §1 and 1017 of the Code of Canon Law.

Kovpak's response[edit]

To justify his actions and respond to the accusations levelled against him by the leaders of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Kovpak wrote a book entitled Persecuted Tradition. In it, he charged that bishops have harassed traditional Greek Catholic priests and refused Ukrainian laity Holy Communion because of the laity insisting on kneeling for it.

He also accused the UGCC leaders of having publicly posed for photographs and conducted interreligious payer meetings with Buddhists and Hare Krishnas. He further cited virulently Anti-Catholic remarks by the Orthodox prelates with whom Cardinal Husar is pursuing ecumenism and "is seeking a false unity".[5] The SSPX is preparing an English translation of the book, the original of which is in Ukrainian.[6]

Lifting of the Écône excommunications[edit]

While the excommunication of the four bishops whom Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated in spite of the prohibition of Canon 1013 was, at their request, lifted in January 2009, Kovpak has not sought to have his own excommunication in connection with two other canons of the Code of Canon Law lifted by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church or by the Holy See.

Parish church[edit]

The Society of St. Josaphat holds possession of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish church in the village of Ivano-Frankove (Yaniv), which is seen as their national headquarters. Those who support the Archeparch of Lviv have to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Latin Rite church.[7]


  1. ^ Lefebvrite Priest Excommunicated from Greek Catholic Church
  2. ^ Excommunicated Greek Catholic Priest Denies Accusations, Disagrees with Decision
  3. ^ An Interview with the SSPX Prior of Warsaw
  4. ^ Ukrainian priest excommunicated]
  5. ^ Book prelude. Kovpak, B. Persecuted Tradition.
  6. ^ Page containing "Tradition Persecuted in Western Ukraine", a review of Kovpak's book Archived August 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Ukrainian Greek Catholics Process For Church Unity