“Synod of Hope”: the second Synod of Bishops of the UGCC during the full-scale war begins in Rome

September 3, 2023, 14:54 412

On Sunday, September 3, the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC in 2023 began in Rome, with the central theme “Pastoral Support for Victims of War.” The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in St. Sophia Basilica, concelebrated by UGCC bishops from around the world, was presided over by His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Catholic Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, arrived to greet the synodal fathers.

“Synod of Hope”: the second Synod of Bishops of the UGCC during the full-scale war begins in Rome

His Beatitude Sviatoslav called this year’s Synod in Rome, the second during the full-scale war, the Synod of Hope.

The first sign of hope is that the synodal work is the moment of the descent of the Holy Spirit: “Whenever the Church or the people have undergone some rough moments in their history (in modern times, we would describe these as moments of crisis), the Church has convened local synods or even Ecumenical Councils. For such an assembly of the apostles of our time, our bishops, is a special moment of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church and the people.”

His Beatitude Sviatoslav regretted saying that today, many people would live happier and more peaceful lives if Ukraine, its people, state, and our Church did not exist. He recalled an Argentine saying: “I am a pebble in the shoe,” and noted that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is such a “pebble in the shoe for those who would like to get on with their earthly things, despite God’s call to the Heavenly Kingdom as it really is.”

The second sign of hope of this year’s Synod is that having gathered in Rome, the bishops of the UGCC receive a special pulpit to speak with a powerful voice “Urbi et Orbi” — to the city of Rome, the Holy Father and the whole world. “Today, when old empires are awakening, when the Russian aggressor is waging a neo-colonial war in Ukraine, it is so important that the world hear the true history of Ukraine, even Russia, Eastern Europe, written not by colonizers and imperialists, but written with the blood of subjugated peoples who are now fighting for the right to exist, freedom, their own special independent Ukrainian state,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

“The world today wishes to hear about Ukraine, and it is through the voice of our Church, and it is from Rome,” assured the Head of the UGCC and addressed the bishops: “May neither our heart nor our voice falter to accomplish this mission.”

The third big sign of hope is the opportunity for Ukrainian bishops to meet the Holy Father in person and receive a token of hope from him. “We know that he is a great maestro of listening and gestures. The Holy Father wishes to listen to the Synod of Ukrainian Bishops. He specifically invites us to a meeting an hour earlier to give not only the Head of the Church an opportunity to speak to him but also to every bishop of our Church on behalf of his congregation, diocese, and exarchate. And as an expert in listening, he is ready to hear us. And as a master of gestures, which can sometimes convey more than written or spoken words, I believe he will offer us such a gesture of hope,” His Beatitude Sviatoslav said, feeling hopeful.

In his address to the Synod, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Catholic Churches, greeted the Father and Head of the UGCC, the bishops, and the faithful, conveying greetings from Pope Francis. He assured them that the Pope’s love and attention to Ukraine stands.

The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Catholic Churches ensured that the Church of Rome and the Pope are immensely grateful to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for all the aid and sacrifice it has shown to the Ukrainian people: “You are tireless workers in the works of mercy. Your task is to wipe away tears and comfort those who suffer. It is the task of God’s people and those who follow and imitate Him.”

On the evening of September 3, the bishops will pray a Moleben to the Holy Spirit, take the synodal oath, and move the Holy Gospel to the meeting hall in a procession. The Synod of Bishops of the UGCC in 2023 will occur until September 13.

The UGCC Department for Information

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