Paris, 19 January 2013 – On the feast of Theophany according to the Julian calendar, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Greek-Catholics residing in France to the status of an Eparchy, with the title of Saint Volodymyr the Great (Eparchie de Saint-Vladimir le Grand). With this, Bishop Borys (Gudziak) is transferred from the titular see of Carcabia and named the first bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Volodymyr the Great.
Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio to France, made the official announcement after the Hierarchal Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Saint Volodymyr in Paris (Cathédrale Saint-Vladimir-le-Grand, 51 rue des Saints Pères, 6e arrondissement), presided by Bishop Borys.
The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has been officially present in France since 1937, when the Holy See, in consultation with Metropolitan Andrey (Sheptytsky), granted it the official status of “Mission of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in France.” In 1939, Ukrainain Greek-Catholics received their first Apostolic Visitator, Bishop Ivan (Buchko). Bishop Volodymyr (Malanchuk) became Exarch in 1961, followed by Bishop Mykhail (Hrynchyshyn) in 1983. On 2 December 2013, Bishop Borys (Gudziak) was enthroned as Exarch at Notre Dame Basilica. The Eparchy currently has 16 priests serving faithful in two republics and three monarchies over a total territory of approximately 792,785 km2. Bishop Borys hopes that the status of Eparchy will allow the Church to grow in order to meet the needs of its faithful in Western Europe.
“At the onset of a new millennium, after a century of ferocious persecution, Ukrainian Greek-Catholics have been dispersed globally by divine Providence not without a spiritual and ecclesial purpose,” said Bishop Borys in an interview in advance of the announcement. “We hope that in secularized Europe the children of the martyrs can witness creatively and compellingly to that everlasting truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are grateful to the Holy Father, Benedict, Pope of Rome, to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, and to the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church for the trust they place in the clergy, religious, and faithful of this new Eparchy.” Speaking of the place of the new Eparchy within the Church in Europe, Bishop Borys said, “I dare to think that from the Lord’s perspective, the Church in Europe is still very young. I hope that the creation of our new Eparchy will contribute to its growth and vitality over the coming centuries and millennia.”
The Eparchy bears the name of Saint Volodymyr, Grand Prince of Kyivan-Rus’, who brought Christianity to present-day Ukraine and baptized his subjects in the year 988. For his work in evangelizing his people, Saint Volodymyr is called “Equal-to-the-Apostles” according to Byzantine tradition. Saint Volodymyr is also the patron saint of the Eparchy’s cathedral in Paris.