Our Ukrainian community inAustraliais very diverse. There are two main churches, Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox. There are various Ukrainian “Hromadas” (communities) as well as many Ukrainian organisations. Some organisations are purely local; some operate on a state level, others on a national level, whilst still others are affiliated with world-wide organisations.
Each organisation or group usually has its own statutes, by-laws or rules under which they operate. Because of this each is different; they operate, govern themselves and relate to other groups in various ways. Some have privileges or limitations which must be understood by everyone in the community. People in leadership, especially, usually know this but we all have an obligation to be aware of how each group exists; what its role is and what its position is in the community.
One has to compliment the Ukrainian community which over the years, despite all these nuances of structure, has learned to understand each other and work together for the common good.
I would now like to discuss an organisation about which I know the most, namely the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Before I do so, I must underline that, in so many ways, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church operates in a different way despite the fact that we have the same faith, share the same customs, traditions and theology. Where we do differ is in ecclesiology; we are different in structure and governance. We have different by-laws and statutes. One cannot say, for instance, that in the Catholic Church they do this or operate in that way, therefore, both churches should be the same. However, this is not the case and one must respect that.
One example is that in the Catholic Church the bishop appoints a priest to a parish whereas, in the Orthodox Church, the Consistory might do this or perhaps someone else. Orthodox parishes tend to find their parish priests and then submit them to another approval process.
In the Catholic Church there are numerous rules and procedures. We have three sets of law – Canon, Particular and Eparchial. Canon law is for all Catholics, Western and Eastern, throughout the world. Particular law is made by our Synod of Bishops for all Ukrainian Catholic Eparchies around the world. Then we have laws that are Eparchial i.e. for each particular Eparchy around the globe. An example is the Australian Ukrainian Eparchy where the laws made here are just for Australian Ukrainian Catholics.
In our Statutes we have numerous by-laws for the many organisations which exist within our Eparchy i.e. Parish Councils, Financial Councils and Pastoral Councils. Serious difficulties can arise when we think that one group should operate like the other or that one group can run another group. They do not and should not. In order to fix problems we have to learn how to settle them and who can correct them. Problems always occur when people, regardless of the proper laws which exist, start interpreting and acting as if they know the laws, but in fact, they do not. It is important to know who has authority and how this authority is exercised.
The churches or other Ukrainian groups inAustraliaare best served by people who love their own, respect others, are tolerant, and do no use their community organisations as vehicles of ego or empire building.
Community living is and always will be about the love of God, our country and our people. Apart from this nothing else should exist.