On August 26-27, 2019, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC, visits Poland in response to the invitation of the Bishop of Poland. During his visit on August 26, the Head of the UGCC led an evening prayer before the miraculous icon of Our Lady, during the so-called “Yasnogursky Apel.” He also had the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Metropolitan of Poznań, Chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference, as well as with the Council of Diocesan Bishops of the PEC. Within the framework of the visit, an “Intentional Letter of Desire and Need for Constant Deepening of Dialogue and Unity” was signed.
“We want to express our sincere will to continue the dialogue and to seek a deeper reconciliation between our Churches. We want to look at our history in the gospel spirit, that is, in love, in forgiveness, and in truth, without which any genuine dialogue is impossible, ”reads the document signed jointly by the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference and the Head of the UGCC.
The intent letter also refers to the parties’ desire to deepen mutual knowledge of each other’s traditions and history, especially among the younger generation. It is suggested to do so through prayer meetings, solemn celebrations of the Eucharist in Roman and Byzantine-Ukrainian traditions, pilgrimages to holy sites important to both Churches, as well as through symposia and other academic events.
They note that His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar and Saint Pope John Paul II played an important role in improving relations between the Polish and Ukrainian peoples, as they always testified to the power of forgiveness, reconciliation and dialogue as a guarantee of good relations and healing of the wounds of the past between Poland and Ukraine.
In a speech to the bishops of Poland on “Reconciliation and union between Churches and peoples. Past and future. The Importance of St. John Paul II as Protector” His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted: “In the Polish-Ukrainian relations, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church played an important role, despite political obstacles.”
According to the spiritual leader of the Greek Catholics, a very important step on the path of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation was the visit of John Paul II to Poland in 1991.
“The actions of Cardinals Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Józef Glemp and Lubomyr Husar, inspired by the charismatic Pope John Paul II, were groundbreaking. We can see today how much providence and wisdom John Paul II revealed when starting the Polish-Ukrainian dialogue. It should be noted that his efforts were not in vain as the process of reconciliation and cooperation took root. … What is happening in our relationship today is a special blessing of God … ” emphasized the Head of the UGCC.
“Today, as before, the issue of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation has its ardent opponents on both sides of the border. However, as Christians and children of one Catholic Church, we believe that it is our duty to follow this path consistently and persistently. For those who believe and preach the Gospel, all ideologies, born even under the influence of noble national feelings, seem short-sighted and prosaic,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav. “Therefore, I call for our bishops to jointly proclaim Saint John Paul II as the patron saint of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation, so that both our nations may have a protector before God in this holy cause, which is also supported and blessed by Pope Francis.”
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Department of Information of the UGCC