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Pope accepts resignation of U.S. Ukrainian Catholic archbishop

17 Apr 2018 – By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia and has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Andriy Rabiy of the same archeparchy to be apostolic administrator.

Archbishop Soroka, 66, is resigning for medical reasons. Under church law, a bishop is expected to submit his resignation to the pope at age 75. His resignation was accepted in accord with Canon 210 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches which allows a bishop to resign before age 75 “due to ill health or to another serious reason.”

The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington 16 April by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Ukrainian-born Bishop Rabiy was named an auxiliary bishop for the archeparchy last August and his episcopal ordination took place in his native Lviv last September. He will remain apostolic administrator until a successor to Archbishop Soroka is appointed.

Archbishop Soroka has headed the Philadelphia archeparchy since February 2001. In addition to Bishop Rabiy, Auxiliary Bishop John Bura also serves the archeparchy.

The Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia includes the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania. It has a total Catholic population of 12,846.

“I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the clergy, religious, seminarians and laity of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia,” Archbishop Soroka said in a statement. “These past 17 years have been filled with many challenges and blessings, some unique in the experience of the Philadelphia archeparchy.

“Success in responding to the varying needs of the archeparchy and its parishes was achieved with the positive and hopeful participation of clergy, religious and laity enabled by the grace of God,” he continued. “Most gratifying to me was the personal journey of prayer and fraternity experienced with the clergy, religious and faithful of the archeparchy.”

Archbishop Soroka said the highlight of his ministry as the head of the archeparchy leadership was being with parishioners “and their ministers in parish liturgical celebrations, visits, pilgrimages, festivals and in personal sharing.” He added “the dedication of the clergy, religious and faithful and their love for their church” was an inspiration to him.

He said he was grateful for “the fraternity and cooperation shared with my brother bishops” of the United States. “[The] common needs of clergy, religious and faithful were addressed in our regular meetings and in gatherings of our church,” he said. “The grace of God provided richly in our many shared endeavors.”

Born 13 November 1951 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the future archbishop earned a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1973 from the University of Manitoba; he received a master’s degree in social work in 1978 from the same university.

His priestly formation took place at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Washington. At The Catholic University of America, also in Washington, he earned a bachelor of sacred theology in 1978 and a doctorate in social work in 1985.

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