Cardinal, archbishop, leader of Ukranian Catholics; b. Zazdrist in the Ukraine, Feb. 17, 1892; d. Rome, Sept. 7, 1984. Josyf Kobernyckyj-Dyckowskyj Slipyj (also spelled Slipyi) was born in the Western Ukraine (Galicia) when it was still a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He received his theological education and seminary training in Lvov (Lviv, Lemberg), Innsbruck and Rome. Ordained a priest in 1917, in 1922 he was appointed to the faculty of the Major Seminary in Lvov (now part of Poland), and became president of the newly founded Theological Academy. He started a respected theological quarterly Bohoslovia that he later (1963) revived in Rome, after a long lapse, as a yearly publication.
In 1939 Slipyj was made coadjutor to Metropolitan Szeptyckyj of Lvov, whom he succeeded as head of the Uniate Ukrainian Church in 1944. The difficulties he had with the Nazi occupation during the first few months of his tenure were nothing in comparison to what he suffered at the hands of the Bolsheviks who took over the next year (1945), annexing the Western Ukraine to the Soviet Union. Arrested and condemned for unspecific crimes, Slipyj spent 18 years in prison, labor camps and exile in Siberia (1945–63). His church was officially annihilated through forced union with the Russian Orthodox Church (Synod of Lvov 1946).
Slipyj was allowed to leave the Soviet Union in 1963 as a result of initiatives that had been set in motion by
Pope John XXIII. He spent the rest of his life in Rome as a witness to the vitality of the Church in the Ukraine, notwithstanding the long years of repression. He spoke of a "church in the catacombs" in terms which, to some, sounded exaggerated, but later were found to be quite accurate.
Role in the West. Pope Paul VI gave Slipyj the title Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Church, with right and privileges similar to those of a patriarch. The title, newly created by Vatican II, was the source of misunderstanding and much friction between the Holy See and Ukrainians in the West. Many thought that patriarch was the more rightful title for the head of the large and long-suffering Ukrainian Church. The appointment of Slipyj as a cardinal in 1965 did not satisfy pressure groups within the Ukrainian community, and at times Slipyj himself seemed to speak and act as an opponent of the Vatican's Ost Politik. Although his actions and movements were restricted, Slipyj visited most Ukrainian communities in Europe and America, and held two Synods of Ukrainian bishops in Rome (1971, 1980). He was also outspoken on behalf of his persecuted people. Some of his strong statements caused an exchange of letters between Patriarch Pimen of Moscow and Pope John Paul II (1980–81).
The cultural activity of the Ukrainian cardinal was also remarkable. He played a principal part in the establishment of the faculty of St. Clement of Rome, a Ukrainian Catholic University (1963), and the construction of St. Sophia, the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (1969), modeled in part on that of Kiev. Both are located in the Eternal City. He wrote highly speculative treatises on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and he appeared as quite an expert on problems of Unionism, Ukrainian church history and liturgy. Shortly before his death at the age of 92, a new edition of his Omnia Opera appeared.
Bibliography: j. slipyj, Omnia Opera Card, Josephi (Slipyj Kobernyckyj-Dyckovskyj) Archiepiscopi Majoris, 13 v. (Rome 1968–83) [Volume 14, with contributions by a number of authors, was added after his death (Rome 1984)]. m. marusyn, Mitropolit Josif Slipyj [in Ukrainian] (Rome-Brussels 1972); Cristiani d'Ucraina. Un popolo dilaniato ma non domato (Rome 1983). g. choma, "La vita e le opere del Cardinale Slipyj," Euntes Docete 38 (1985) 217–236. g. caprile, "Il Card: Josif Slipyj Pastore e Studioso," La Civilta Cattolica (1985) 400–404. j. pelikan, Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj (Grand Rapids, MI 1990).