Conversations With an Orthodox Priest, Fr. Ambrose, on "Bishop" Yuri Yurchyk,
who is allegedly uniting with the CMRI of Mt. St. Michael

"Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop "unites" with CMRI"

Dear Fr Ambrose,

A certain Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI, has posted a file to his website at Testimony of reception into the Catholic Church of Bishop Yuri Yurchyk of Donetsk, Ukraine."

It claims of and for Bishop Yurchyk:
  1. That he is/was a Bishop of the Ukraine Orthodox Church;
  2. That the Orthodox Church (generally) is schismatic;
  3. That the "transubstantiation... [is] not [effected] by the Epiclesis";
  4. That he has made an "abjuration of error and profession of faith on October 24, 2002;
  5. That his name was removed from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarch web-site;
  6. That his desire was NOT to be re-united with the Catholic Church under the Bishop of Rome; in fact, he is apparently well cogniscent of the sedevacantist claim that the See of Rome is vacant.

In case you are unaware of the status of Bishop Pivarunas and the CMRI, I advise the following:

Following the ordinations and consecrations in 1975 at Palmar de Troya by Archbishop Ngo dinh Thuc, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Decreed (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 17 Sept., 1976

- AAS 68-623) "The bishops who have ordained other bishops and the ordained bishops themselves ... have also by that very fact incurred the excommunication ... the penalty provided for in canon 2370 is applied also to the assistant priests, if there were any... the Church neither now recognizes nor will recognize their ordination and, as regards all effects of law, holds them to be in that state which each one of them previously had..."

Subsequently, Archbishop Thuc reconciled with Rome and had his excommunication lifted. However, later he again consecrated another group of bishops - was again excommunicated, and reconciled a second time.

On 12 March, 1983 (AAS 75-392) the SCDF re-imposed the penalties on the consecrator and consecrated - using the same terminology. The excommunicated then included: Guerard des Lauriers, Moses Carmona, Adolph Zamora, Benigno Bravo, Roberto Martinez and George Musey.

Once more, Thuc sought and received reconciliation - but repeated the offence a third time.

In all, approximately two hundred "bishops" trace themselves back to Archbishop Thuc. One may view the lines of the "Thuc Bishops" at Terry Boyle's

Mark Pivarunas obtained his religious training from Old Catholic "Bishop" Francis Schuckardt for his Tridentine Latin Rite Church at Mount St Michael, Spokane - of which the CMRI is the spiritual child. Pivarunas received ordination from Thucite Bishop George Musey of the same Tridentine Latin Rite Church in 1985, and was consecrated by Thucite Bishop Carmona-Rivera on Sept. 24, 1991. Pivarunas was Superior at Mount St Michael's from 198x to 1991.

The web page states that

"In 1984 the CMRI in Spokane, WA, was rocked by scandalous allegations made on KXLY television concerning child abuse and sexual abuse by church leaders. Schuckhardt was "also reported to have engaged in various acts of unnatural immodesty and impurity on a repeated basis." ("Mount Saint Michael - A Systematic Study", by Fr. Daniel Ahern.) The CMRI's history reeks of Old Catholicism, Thucitism and schism. Schuckardt became an anti-pope under the name: Hadrian VII.

Of the Ukrainian Orrthodox Church, it is alleged that it "is a schismatic offshoot from the Russian Orthodox Church. Since they had no legally ordained bishops to ordain more priests, the original priests or bishops were 'ordained' by laying the hands of a dead bishop on their heads."

Russian Orthodox Church News reports that "Patriarchate of Alexandria Comments the Information that His Beatitude Patriarch Peter met a Ukrainian Schismatic 'Hierarch'".

It goes on to speak of the "non-canonical Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), and the fact that "The Patriarch stressed that 'the Patriarchate of Alexandria did not and does not maintain communion with any non-canonical and schismatic Church", and that "His Beatitude did not permit the schismatic to conduct a worship service, because 'the Patriarchate of Alexandria has no communication with the above-mentioned non-canonical UAOC group.'"

Now - after all that:

Can you tell me whether Bishop Yuri Yurchyk was a bishop of the non-canonical "Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC)" and, as such, was considered by the Russian Orthodox Church to be a schismatic and/or a layman without Orders?

Perhaps you are aware of the propensity of many schismatics within the Roman Patriarchate who attempted to obtain the Apostolic Succession from spurious sources. Some perhaps thirty to fifty years ago a book was published under the name "Bishops At Large." I think the author was Peter Anson. It recorded the many and varied "churches" formed by such people. It wouldn't surprise me if what was behind the Pivarunas/Yurchyk liason is a desire (at least on the part of one of the parties) to strengthen claims to Apostolic Succession.

On another matter - have you read "Anamnesis, not Amnesia: The 'Healing of Memories' and the Problem of 'Uniatism.'" By Fr. Robert Taft, SJ ?

Fr Ambrose replied:

Dear Sean,

I don't of course know anything much about this and can only paint a picture with a broad brush, and you may be aware of it already, more than I am.

After the demise of communism, certain ambitious prelates in the Ukraine used the chaotic circumstances to advance their own agendas.

In this way two schismatic Churches came into being.

  1. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC)
  2. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP)

The latter is particularly worrying since it is headed by a self-declared Patriarch, Philaret Denisenko, who is married (!) to a woman Mrs Evgenia Denisenko and has two daughters with her.

The canonical Church in the Ukraine is the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church within the Moscow Patriarchate.

For a thousand years Moscow and the Ukraine have formed one united Church. But the time has now come for the formation of an independent and self-governing Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. This is what is happening now as Moscow gradually allows its Ukrainian dioceses to form an independent Church.

If this Bishop Yuri Yurchyk was a member of either of the Churches (1) or (2) then this Bishop Pivarunas has bought himself a lemon! This Yurchyk (now I've seen his photo on the web) looks like a boy and vastly underage to be a canonical bishop.

Who is Pivarunas? Some Catholic schismatic group?

From: Sean O L

Dear Fr. Ambrose,

Many thanks for your reply. Yes, he and his group are schismatic and, according to the Vatican decrees, the lemon tree spreads.