At a press conference on Monday, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuck, head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, said a two-day meeting with Pope Francis and curial leaders represents a “new methodology” for relations between the Holy See and the "sui iuris" Eastern Churches.

By Vatican News

The unprecedented meeting was called for by Pope Francis himself, with the intention of conveying his closeness to the Ukrainian Church. A statement from the Holy See Press Office said that the Pope, with his collaborators in the Roman Curia, showed “his appreciation for the history of this Church; its spiritual, liturgical, theological and canonical traditions; and its fidelity to communion with the Successor of Peter, confirmed and sealed with the blood of the martyrs.”

Major Archbishop said that the meeting showed the Pope’s “support for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church; to confirm his closeness to our church; and through this […] closeness, this conversation, this encounter, the closeness of the Holy Father to all the Ukrainian people who are suffering from war.” He noted that Pope Francis was personally present during the two days of meetings.

The Eastern Churches should develop and flourish

The main focus of the meeting, Archbishop Sviatoslav said, was to consider the question of “how to create the necessary conditions for the development of our Church?” The question, he explained, arises from the rejection of the method of so-called “uniatism” as a means to bring about “the full and visible unity of the Church of Christ.”

Archbishop Sviatoslav said that the Pope’s answer to that question, not only to the UGCC, but to the other Eastern Churches as well, was very clear, eloquent, and symbolic: “The Pope desires that our Church, but also the other Eastern Catholic Churches, should develop and flourish.”

The Major Archbishop also noted that the meeting with the Pope included not only himself, and the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, but also the Metropolitan Archbishops from around the world, who represent the “globality” of the Church.

An invitation to Ukraine

In response to a journalist’s question at the press conference, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said that the Bishops had invited the Pope to Ukraine, with the hope that a papal visit might be “a very eloquent and symbolic possibility” for an end to the hybrid war in the eastern part of the country. He said the Pope had replied that he would consider a visit. The Major Archbishop noted that Ukraine has now been suffering the consequences of war in the east for five years, and is facing a humanitarian crisis.

In the context of the ongoing conflict, he said, the eleven Ukrainian Greek-Catholic parishes in the war zone continue to operate, providing a witness of hope in a perilous situation. The priests who serve those parishes are not able to do much, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav said, “but their presence among the people is a proof that God has not abandoned them.

A humanitarian and environmental emergency

The crisis in the eastern Ukraine was one of the other main themes of the meeting, said Major Archbishop Shevchuk. He warned of an environmental disaster: “In a few months, we will have an ecological catastrophe, because almost four million people will no longer have access to drinking water.

The Church in Ukraine

Among the other topics addressed at the meeting was the question of ecumenism. More than 70% of Ukrainians are Orthodox, while Catholics represent about 14% of the population.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav also answered a question about the possibility of the concession of the patriarchate to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, a topic that has been discussed for many years. He said that they are already “like a patriarchate”, but made no mention of any decisions or discussions with the Holy See on that issue.

The contemporary scene in Ukraine

In the context of the recent election of President Volodymyr Zelensky, and upcoming parliamentary consultations scheduled for 21 July, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said the UGCC has called for “more efficient” institutions, working in favour of the poor and defenceless. He emphasized the important values highlighted in Catholic social teaching, especially the dignity of human persons, the common good, solidarity, and subsidiarity. He expressed concern about the high number of Ukrainians emigrating from the country each year, and urged investment in Ukraine to create new jobs.

A new methodology

According to the Press Office statement, “the reflection was carried out with mutual listening, and was accompanied by prayer.” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav likewise emphasized the importance of listening and reflecting, and added that this method should result in action.

He expressed his hope that this “new methodology” might continue in the future, both for the UGCC and for the other Eastern Catholic Churches, as a means of fostering their identity and mission.

08 July 2019, 18:08


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Joachiam and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ