His Beatitude Sviatoslav Meets with the Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine

June 8, 2024, 15:27 18

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, met with Pier Francesco Zazo, the Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine, who is completing his diplomatic mission in the country. The meeting took place on June 7, 2024, at the residence of the Head of the UGCC in Kyiv.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav Meets with the Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine

During the meeting, His Beatitude Sviatoslav discussed a number of critical questions with Mr. Zazo, focusing on the situation in Ukraine, the pastoral care of the Church during the war, the ideology of the Russian World, inter-church relations in Ukraine and the world, along with plans for the future.

First of all, the Head of the UGCC conveyed his gratitude to the Italian state and people for supporting Ukraine in countering Russian aggression and for the assistance provided. The Primate also expressed gratitude for the assistance in developing the Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainians in Italy, established by Pope Francis five years ago.

Mr. Zazo mentioned that he first became acquainted with Ukraine 20 years ago and has since been impressed by the strong sense of national identity and religiosity of Ukrainians.

Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo

He asked the Head of the UGCC, who, “as a shepherd, touches the wounds of the war of Ukrainians,” about his perspective on the current situation in Ukraine. “We, Ukrainians, are fatigued, though not demotivated,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav. “Regrettably, becoming accustomed to the war that exists can be even more dangerous than fatigue… The people are tired, but everyone understands that we must continue the struggle because we have no other choice.”

Regarding the ideology of the “Russian world”, which the Italian diplomat inquired about, the Primate noted that its origin within the Church [Russian Orthodox] presents a serious challenge to the credibility of Christian preaching in the third millennium. His Beatitude Sviatoslav said that the UGCC not only condemns this genocidal ideology itself, but also calls on other churches and communities, including academic ones, to study and condemn it scientifically. “The sooner this ideology is condemned, the more lives will be saved,” the Head of the UGCC is convinced.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav

Mr. Pier Francesco Zazo asked His Beatitude Sviatoslav about the unique characteristics of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The Primate spoke about three of them:

  • First, the UGCC has never been a state church, always supporting the national aspirations of Ukrainians.

  • The second is that the UGCC is a global Church open to Catholic universalism. Being represented all over the world, it creates communion between Ukrainians in Ukraine and the diaspora.

  • Thirdly, the UGCC carries out active social ministry. As a Church, we consider ourselves an integral part of civil society. We teach Ukrainians to be free and responsible for their future. During the war, our service to those in need was supported by the general solidarity of the Catholic Church.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that, being free from state influence, the UGCC can freely speak the truth, preach Christian values and have a prophetic voice.

Mr. Zazo shared that his work in Ukraine helped him better define the difference between Ukraine and Russia. In his words, what distinguishes Ukrainians from Russians is, first of all, a deep sense of national identity and the value of freedom. He stated that he considers it “his moral duty” to share this knowledge with the world, particularly with Italians.

At the end of the meeting, His Beatitude Sviatoslav presented Ambassador Zazo with a commemorative medal depicting the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv and a publication about St. Sophia in Rome, inviting him to visit.

The UGCC Department for Information

See also