United around you today, Holy Father, we want to assure you that our Church is undergoing a pastoral transformation. We are aware that it is not enough to have a good and rich tradition that preserves the millennial memory of the Church of Kyivan Rus. We need to live this tradition in an authentic way …
The Word of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC, at the beginning of the audience of Bishops of the UGCC Holy Synod with the Holy Father Francis
It is with great joy and love that we wish to express our sense of gratitude for this extraordinary opportunity, filled with profound theological and spiritual content – to begin the next session of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church with you, the Successor of the Apostle Peter.
Whenever the bishops of our Church gather for the Synod, we are aware that our work, our reflections, and our pastoral ministry are carried out in full and visible communion with the Pope. Usually, this communion is expressed through “letters of communion.” However, this time we are experiencing it in the context of a personal meeting and in testimony that this communion is not a dead letter, but a breath of the Holy Spirit, alive and life-giving; and personal experience of the Pope’s parental concern for the good of the Ukrainian Church!
We came to this synodal work from around the world. Our Synod includes 50 bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In addition to hierarchs from Ukraine, there are metropolitans and bishops from Canada, the United States, Britain and Ireland, France and the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Australia. Also involved in our work are bishops of the Mukachevo Diocese (Ukraine), the Ordinarius for Eastern Catholics in the Russian Federation, an apostolic delegate for Greek Catholics in Belarus, an apostolic administrator for Greek Catholics in Kazakhstan and Central Asia, a representative of the Ukrainian Vicariate in Romania and members of the ordinances for faithful Greek Catholics in Austria and Spain.
We are especially grateful to your Holiness for the recent creation of the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Greek Catholics living in Italy and for the appointment of Cardinal Angelo De Donatis as its Apostolic Administrator.
We still in our hearts hear your words that “it is not enough to have a Synod, it is necessary to be a Synod.”
We came here for this! Each bishop and representative of our local communities brought with them the pain and hope of the people that God entrusted to our pastoral care. We want to be a Synod not only during our working meetings, but also when we return to our communities!
We want to continue our synodal journey with the clergy, men and women, children and youth who live in different cultures and countries, speak different languages and belong to different nations.
We want to move forward together as the united Eastern Catholic Church of its own right, the Church which is global, alive and open to all. That is why the main theme of our Synod is “Communion and unity in the life and in testimony of the Ukrainian Church in the present day.”
United around you today, Holy Father, we want to assure you that our Church is undergoing a pastoral transformation. We are aware that it is not enough to have a good and rich tradition. It is necessary to live this tradition in an authentic way and to be able to convey to the modern man the heart of this Apostolic Tradition – the possibility of a personal encounter with the Living Christ, Who is still present today through the action of the Holy Spirit in His Church and walks with us on the paths of the modern world.
We also want to assure Your Holiness that our Church throughout the world prays for you, supports you, listens to you and awaits your visit to Ukraine!
Holy Father, bless us!
September 2, 2019,
Sala del Concistoro of the Apostolic Palace