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Cardinals Pietro Parolin and Kurt Koch Meet with the Bishops of the UGCC Synod

September 5, 2023, 23:29 336

On September 5, during the second day of the working sessions of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC in Rome, meetings were held with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. Addressing the bishops, Cardinal Parolin announced the establishment of the Permanent Interdicasterial Working Group on Eastern Europe, “an initiative of His Beatitude Sviatoslav.”

Cardinals Pietro Parolin and Kurt Koch Meet with the Bishops of the UGCC Synod

In his speech to the Synodal Fathers, Cardinal Parolin highly commended the activities of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and confirmed that the Apostolic See shares the suffering of the Ukrainian people and supports various international initiatives to help Ukraine.

The Cardinal recalled the thousand-year history of relations between Kyiv and Rome, which were not interrupted even after the schism of 1054, and praised the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for considering the connection with the successor of the Apostle Peter to be a “constitutive dimension.”

The Secretary of State of the Holy See, assessing the work of the previous session of the Synod, which took place in July last year in Przemysl, emphasized: “You did not constrain yourselves to theoretical theological considerations, but immersed in specifics, looking for new ways of closeness and pastoral support for the faithful and the entire Ukrainian people, regardless of their religion, to heal their wounds. You have pondered a fundamental question: ‘How can a Church be a Church?’ in such dramatic circumstances and expressed the conviction that only ‘a Church that is close to human suffering and pain is alive and will never become a museum’” (see: Message of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 2022).

Cardinal Parolin also spoke about the Redemptorist Fathers from Berdiansk, Fr. Ivan Levytsky and Fr. Bohdan Geleta, who were arrested by the occupation authorities in November 2022. He emphasized that “the Holy See shares your concern for their fate and does not neglect any opportunity to obtain information about them and to secure their release.”

The Holy See Secretary of State commended the “pastoral care of Ukrainian soldiers defending their homeland.” “You have spiritually supported them with your prayers and taught them that, while defending the sovereignty and freedom of their national territory, Ukrainians also have to guard their hearts so as not to succumb to hatred, which can make them easy prey in the face of so many atrocities.”

Cardinal Parolin assured the bishops of the UGCC of the support of the Holy See, especially from the Holy Father Francis, “as evidenced by his public appeals, the Letter to the Ukrainian people of November 24, 2022, and the ‘Pope for Ukraine’ initiative.”

The cardinal particularly pointed to the efforts of the Secretariat of State, “which, together with the Holy Father, is interested in the exchange of prisoners, the repatriation of Ukrainian children from Russia (an issue that was addressed by the mission of Cardinal Zuppi, the Pope’s special envoy, during his visits to Kyiv and Moscow), the grain export deal, and the humanitarian aspects of the peace plan proposed by the Ukrainian authorities.”

In his speech, Cardinal Koch emphasized that he was impressed with “the way your bishops and priests lead the faithful and strengthen their hope in the faith,” particularly the “statements and invigorating messages” of His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

The head of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity told the bishops of the UGCC Synod about the current state of ecumenical dialogue and stated that the war in Ukraine has caused severe damage to ecumenical dialogue. “The consequences of this war are still unpredictable, and it will take time for the wounds on the body and soul of many people to heal.”

Cardinal Koch expressed his solidarity with the Ukrainian bishops and hope for “a just peace in Ukraine.”

Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome

See also