This morning, at 09:15 Italian time, Pope Francis met with His Beatitude Sviatoslav. The meeting was held at St. Martha’s House in the Vatican, in the Holy Father’s private office.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav informed the Holy Father Francis about the preparation for the Patriarchal Sobor of the UGCC on the subject of emigration, settlement, and global unity of the UGCC. He also told the Pope about the implementation of the decisions of last year’s Synod of the UGCC, which took place in Rome from September 1 to 10 last year, and about the steps in developing a new pastoral plan for the next ten years. “The focus of this pastoral plan is on the human person, his/her wounds and hopes,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
Pope Francis expressed his full support for the pastoral initiatives of the UGCC and stressed the need for effective support from the Mother Church of her children, who are scattered around the world. The Eastern Catholic Churches, in accordance with their own traditions and needs, are called to contribute to the search for the best pastoral methods.
At the conclusion of the audience, His Beatitude Sviatoslav presented to Pope Francis the icon of the Blessed Virgin, who embraces the Ukrainian land. The icon is painted on a piece of a weapons crate and is a symbol of the suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the war in the East. “This icon is the voice of Ukraine’s pain and a prayer for peace in our country,” said the Head of the UGCC, giving the icon to the Roman Bishop.
His Holiness assured His Beatitude Sviatoslav of his constant attention to events in Ukraine and prayers for true peace for it. “It is not a temporary truce, but a genuine desire for understanding and dialogue that can bring peace to Ukraine,” said Pope Francis.
The icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, presented to Pope Francis, belongs to a collection of Passion icons painted on weapons crates to mark the fifth year of the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Donbas. Brought from the war zone, the weapons boxes returned to the peaceful life as icons in prayer for peace. The proceeds from the sale of the icons go to the needs of the First Volunteer Mobile Hospital named after Mykola Pyrohov, the largest non-governmental hospital in the Donbas, where wounded soldiers are treated.
Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome