On February 14, at Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome, His Beatitude Sviatoslav delivered a lecture on primate of the Bishop of Rome in professing and identity of Oriental Catholic Churches. The lecture for an academic community of one of the oldest pontifical universities was held within an ecumenical program Ut unum sint (“That they may be one”) in cooperation with Pontifical Council for promoting Christian unity.
In his report His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that “the primate of an apostle Peter is a gift given by Jesus Christ to His Church”, since being a “significant service for preserving and cherishing Church unity”.
The report of Head of the UGCC for an academic community and experts in an ecumenical area was given in the frame of the “Tillard Chair” circle of lectures dedicated to the 25th anniversary of encyclical of St. John Paul II Ut unum sint (“That they may be one”). Precisely in this encyclical St. John Paul II underscored “a catholic doctrine regarding serving Bishops of Rome”, simultaneously calling “to comprehend this service from a different perspective”.
Citing his predecessor, patriarch Lubomyr Husar, His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that “the primate of the Bishop of Rome must not be an obstacle on the way to Church unity renewal” but, on the contrary, – it is a true faith, which, is actually, acknowledged by everyone who acknowledges an ancient tradition of Christianity from the first millennium”.
While interpreting an identity of Oriental Churches, His Beatitude Sviatoslav outlined that “staying in a complete unity with the Bishop of Rome as Oriental Church, the UGCC feels its mission to witness to the orthodox world that the unity with Peter neither restrict nor takes anything from us, does not damage its denomination, on the contrary, contributes to its prosperity”.
The Major Archbishop emphasized that “for Oriental Churches the service of apostle Peter means not only his catholic jurisdiction but, first and foremost, servicing catholic unity”. “The primate of the Bishop of Rome belongs to our faith and identity” not in the meaning of canonical subordination but in faithfulness to the gift of the Holy Spirit for assurance the unity of Christ’s Church, testified by our martyrs. “No one gives their life for some legislative norm, only for the faith in Christ and His holy Church”. This kind of unity with a successor of apostle Peter appeared to be “stronger than Berlin Wall and Soviet Union’s tanks”.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav accompanied his report with an image of metropolitan Josyf Slipuj at the time of his second arrest in Maklakovo in 1958 just during the celebration of a Divine Liturgy. “This way of professing faith in the unity with the Bishop of Rome is a model faith of our Church, what our martyrs gave their lives for”, accented Head of the UGCC and gave a memorable photo for the university.
We will add that among the speakers at the Tillard Chair are: Br. Enzo Bianchi, founder of ecumenical monastery of Bose (Italy), Maria Voce, president of Focolare Movement, Cardinal Walter Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Br. Alois, the prior of Taize, metropolitan Kallistos Ware from the Orthodox Church under the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other leaders in the area of an ecumenical dialogue.Secretariat of Head of the UGCC in Rome