Ukrainians in London welcome the election of new Head of Ukrainian Catholic Church

Ukrainians in London expressed their joy at the unexpected news of the selection of 40 year old Bishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk as the new head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. The news of Bishop Sviatoslav’s election by the Church’s Synod on March 25 rapidly spread amongst the thousands of Ukrainians living in London.

Sviatoslav Shevchuk,  who was born in Ukraine and studied in Rome and Buenos Aires, is Ukraine’s youngest bishop and the third youngest among all of the Catholic Church’s 5000 plus bishops across the globe.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church has a history of selecting young leaders with both Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky and Patriarch Josyf Slipyj elected at uncharacteristically young ages, with the former being appointed Head of the Church at the age of 36.

‘Ukrainians here in the UK have been sharing their delight at the news of the selection of Patriarch Sviatoslav.  The decision to elect a young Leader is very uplifting and has made many Ukrainians proud to be a part of a visionary and dynamic Church. We look forward to continue serving the Church under Patriarch Sviatoslav’s guidance and leadership,’ commented Andy Hunder, Director of the Ukrainian Institute in London.

Current estimates show that there are more than 30,000 Ukrainian Catholics living in the UK.

Bishop Sviatoslav’s predecessor Lubomyr Huzar stepped down as head of the Church last month due to poor health. 77 year old Cardinal Huzar is widely recognised as the ‘leading moral authority’ in Ukraine and was one of the cardinals considered ‘papabile’ at the 2005 papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II. His Beatitude Lubomyr last visited London in January 2011 for a meeting of the Church’s permanent Synod.