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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ukrainian Patriarch calls for peace





(Vatican Radio) The head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav
(Shevchuk) is calling on Ukrainians to join in prayers for peace and unity as they celebrate the Divine Liturgy on 22 January – the anniversary of Ukrainian independence in 1918.

“With great dismay and sadness we witness the events taking place at the moment in Kyiv,” he said, “In view of these exceptional circumstances I would like to appeal to all the faithful of the church, the Ukrainian people, and to all people of good will. In the name of God, stop the bloodshed! Violence was never the way to build a free and independent state! Bloodshed will never reconcile hearts or bring a positive outcome.”

The call comes in response to the violence that has marred anti-government protests. Police and protestors have clashed over the past two nights as government forces attempted to break up the protests and dismantle barricades leading to government offices.

In his appeal, addressed to all sectors of Ukrainian society, Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav called on the government to listen to the people: “Listen to your people, hear them, do not use violence against them or repressive mechanisms.”

He asked citizens, “especially the protestors who are standing on the Maidan” to return to non-violent demonstrations. “I beg of you, go back to the peaceful nature of the protests. Do not let emotions get the better of you. Neither fear nor aggression nor anger was ever helpful in determining our future.”

He reminded Bishops and priests to continue to “speak words of peace to hearts and minds” and to preach the gospel of peace.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav concluded his message with an appeal for prayer: “I call everyone to prayer for peace in our country. May the Lord of peace, the Lord who has given us his peace be with you all.”


Listen to Christopher Wells' report: RealAudioMP3

Text from page of the Vatican Radio website with acknowledgement. Read online here:
http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/01/21/ukrainian_major_archbishop_calls_for_peace/en1-765880

Full text of Patriarch's appeal:
Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) appealed to the Ukrainian people to desist from violence and stop the bloodshed.

“With great dismay and sadness we witness the events taking place at the moment in Kyiv. In view of these exceptional circumstances I would like to appeal to all the faithful of the church, the Ukrainian people, and to all people of good will.... In the name of God, stop the bloodshed! Violence was never the way to build a free and independent state! Bloodshed will never reconcile hearts or bring a positive outcome.

I appeal to the Ukrainian authorities: Listen to your people, hear them, do not use violence against them or repressive mechanisms.

I appeal to political leaders of our country: Realize your responsibility for the future of your people, the responsibility for the calls and the steps that you offer them today.

I appeal to society, to citizens, members of various NGOs, especially the protesters who are standing on the Maidan: I beg of you, go back to the peaceful nature of the protests. Do not let emotions get the better of you. Neither fear nor aggression nor anger was ever helpful in determining our future.

I appeal to the Ukrainian judges: Listen to the voice of your conscience, remember that there is no justice without truth. Ask yourself why people call you “Your Honor.” Do not tarnish your honor with unjust decisions.

I appeal to our episcopate and clergy: Especially at a time like this watch over the souls entrusted to you. Reach their hearts and minds with your words of peace. Proclaim the Gospel of Christ's peace.

I call everyone to prayer for peace in our country. May the Lord of peace, the Lord who has given us his peace be with you all.”

Patriarch Sviatoslav

Note: Vatican politics will not recognise the Ukrainian Catholic Church's patriarchal status, even though it is the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and even though it recognises patriarchs in relatively tiny entities like the Coptic and Syriac Catholic Church of relatively recent origin. Meanwhile it does recognise the patriarchate of Moscow which long postdates the Union of Brest, which consolidated the ancient union of the Byzantine Church in what is now Ukraine with the See of Peter at Rome. The title Major Archbishop was invented to recognise where the leaders of Eastern Churches have the same rights and status as patriarchs (eg the Melkite and Maronite patriarchs) but thus to deny them and their churches the title, while honouring it for the Orthodox. In this case, it is a piece of Ostpolitik aimed at avoiding howls of protest from Russia, which regards Ukraine as its own territory (where it indeed has a significant presence, but alongside at least two other Orthodox churches, one of which has a patriarch of its own whom no one recognises canonically), and which considers the Ukrainian Catholic Church as an aberration that ought properly to "return" to its fold. What this fails to say is that for the four decades of Soviet domination of Western Ukraine, the Ukrainian Catholic Church was liquidated, its assets awarded to the Russian Church and its clergy and faithful forced to conform to Orthodoxy and thus their schism from Rome. After independence, the local Ukrainian Catholic Church recovered, has enjoyed a renewal in life, and has worked hard to recover its own rightful properties, churches, monasteries, diocesan structures and faithful. It is this that has been presented as an attach on the church of the Moscow patriarchate - which prior to the second world war had no presence in the West of Ukraine anyway. It has now set up such structures for its faithful in the West, to which there can be no objection, yet it persists in objecting to the Catholic Church serving its faithful in the East of Ukraine, or maintaining itself as a legitimate church originating from the same roots as the Orthodox of Eastern Ukraine and also what became Russia and Belarussia. Of course, the feelings of other Christians should not needlessly be offended and where possible respected; but here is a case, especially now given the recent threat of a second legal suppression of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, for solidarity and respect for our fellow Catholics. If we can recognise the Metropolitan Archbishop of Moscow as a patriarch, and even go along with his church's demand to be addresses as "Your Holiness" like the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople, then we can respect His Beatitude, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kyiv/Kiev, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, as patriarch too. It is a question of parity - of treating peers the same.
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