Josyf Slipyj

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Jozef Slipyj)
Jump to: navigation, search
His Eminent Beatitude
Josyf Slipyj
Metropolitan of Galicia, Major Archbishop of Lviv, Cardinal
Head and shoulders portrait of Cardinal Josyf Slipyj when he visited  Australia in 1968
Cardinal Slipyj in Australia in 1968
Church Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Appointed 1 November 1944
Term ended 7 September 1984
Predecessor Andrey Sheptytsky
Successor Myroslav Lubachivsky
Ordination 30 Sep 1917 (Priest)
Consecration 22 Dec 1939 (Bishop)
by Andrey Sheptytsky
Created Cardinal 22 February 1965
Personal details
Birth name Йосип Сліпий
Born 17 February 1893
Died September 7, 1984(1984-09-07) (aged 91)
Buried St. George's Cathedral, Lviv
49°50′19.48″N 24°0′46.19″E / 49.8387444°N 24.0128306°E / 49.8387444; 24.0128306
Rector of the Theological Academy Fr. Josyf Slipyj in the company of teachers and students of this Academy. In 1936.

Josyf Slipyj (Ukrainian: Йосип Сліпий) (17 February 1893 - 7 September 1984) was a Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and a Cardinal of the Catholic Church.


He was born in village of Zazdrist, Galicia (in modern Ternopil Oblast), then a crownland of Austria-Hungary. He studied at the Lviv Greek-Catholic Seminary and Innsbruck University in Austria, before being ordained a priest on 30 June 1917. From 1920 to 1922, he studied in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Collegio Angelico (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum),[1] and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He returned to Lwów (Lviv), by then part of Second Polish Republic, and taught at the seminary, eventually becoming its rector.

On 22 December 1939, with the blessing of Pope Pius XII, Slipyj was ordained archbishop of Serrae and Coadjutor Archbishop of Lviv with the right of succession. The ordination was conducted by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky in secrecy due to the Soviet presence and the political situation.

Slipyj became the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on 1 November 1944, following Sheptytsky's death.

After Soviet troops captured Lviv, Slipyj was arrested along with other bishops in 1945 by the NKVD, convicted to penal servitude, allegedly for collaboration with the Nazi regime. This was the first step in the planned liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church by Soviet authorities.[2][3][4] After being jailed in Lviv, Kiev, and Moscow, a Soviet court sentenced him to eight years of hard labor in the Siberian Gulag.

At this time Soviet authorities forcibly convened an assembly of 216 priests, and on 9 March 1946 and the following day, the so-called "Synod of Lviv" was held in St. George's Cathedral. The Union of Brest, the council at which the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church formally entered into ecclesiastic communion with the Holy See, was revoked. The Church was forcibly "rejoined" to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Slipyj's prison writings managed to circulate. In 1957 Pope Pius XII sent him a congratulatory letter on the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. It was confiscated, and also on account of his circulating writings, he was sentenced to seven more years in prison. On 23 January 1963, he was freed by Nikita Khrushchev's administration after political pressure from Pope John XXIII and United States President John F. Kennedy. He arrived in Rome in time to participate in the Second Vatican Council.

Styles of
Josyf Slipyj
Coat of arms of Josyf Slipyj.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

In 1949 he had been secretly (in pectore) named a cardinal by Pope Pius XII, but this would have expired in 1958 when that pope died. In 1965 Slipyj was appointed publicly, and appointed Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Atanasio.[5] At the time he was the 4th cardinal in Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church history. Beginning in 1963 many Ukrainian bishops lobbied for Slipyj to be named patriarch, but Pope Paul VI refused, instead creating the new office of major archbishop and appointing Slipyj as its first incumbent on 23 December 1963.[6] In 1976, Slipyj consecrated Ivan Choma, Stefan Czmil and Lubomyr Husar as bishops without approval of the pope in an act of exposition of patriarchal aspirations. These consecrations caused much annoyance to the Roman Curia as episcopal consecrations without papal permission are considered illicit in Roman Canon Law (with exceptions, such as those made by Archbishop Lefebvre) but not Eastern Canon Law.[7]

He did not participate in the 1978 papal conclaves in August and October being past the age of 80 then.

He died in Rome on 7 September 1984. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, his relics were returned to St. George's Cathedral in Lviv in 1992.

His cause for canonisation has been introduced at Rome.

The Shoes of the Fisherman[edit]

It seems likely that Slipyj's life story was known to the Australian writer Morris West's 1963 novel The Shoes of the Fisherman. West's protagonist is Kiril Pavlovich Lakota, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv, who is freed by the Soviet Premier after 17 years in a Siberian labor camp. He is sent to Rome, where an elderly pope makes him a cardinal. The Pontiff dies, and Lakota finds himself elected Pope, taking the name Kiril I (a rare use of baptismal name as a papal name).

Despite the similarities, it is not clear to what extent West used Slipyj or Bishop Hryhorij Lakota (who died in 1950 in the gulag) as a particular model for his character. The book begins with a disclaimer: “This is a book set in a fictional time, peopled with fictional characters, and no reference is intended to any living person, whether in the Church or out of it.” According to the publisher, The Shoes of the Fisherman was written between March 1961 and August 1962,[8] which is before Slipyj's release.

The novelty of a Ukrainian pope in a post-Cuban Missile Crisis, Cold War world led to the book being featured on The New York Times Best Seller list. It was the number 1 bestseller of the entire year on the Publishers Weekly fiction list, and the parallels led to increased fame for Slipyj.

Hollywood's film version appeared in 1968, starring Anthony Quinn as Lakota/Kiril I and Laurence Olivier as the (fictional) USSR Premier Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (and Lakota's jailer). It was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Some today regard The Shoes of the Fisherman as prophetic because it preceded by 15 years the election of Karol Józef Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II, the first Slavic pope as well as one from a Communist nation, noting even the Kiril/Karol similarity of names.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Accessed 21, 7, 2013
  2. ^ Bociurkiw, B.R., The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Soviet State (1939–1950). CIUS Press, 1996.
  3. ^ Pelikan, Jaroslav, Confessor Between East and West. W.B. Eerdmans Publishing. 1990.
  4. ^ Religious Information Service of Ukraine: Patriarch Josyf Slipiy
  5. ^ Cardinal Title S. Atanasio
  6. ^ "Josyf Ivanovycè Cardinal Slipyj (Slipiy)". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Apostolische Nachfolge: Ukraine. German site of CSSp Province
  8. ^ Plokhy, Serhii (1995). "Between Moscow and Rome: Struggle for the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine". Journal of Church and State. 


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Andrey Sheptytsky
Metropolitan of Galicia, Major Archbishop of Lviv
Succeeded by
Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky