Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
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To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Ukrainian struggle is Church’s struggle

While the UK's Catholic press remains largely indifferent, and the UK press and media in general are unable to analyse what is going on - and the dangers for all Europe:

Written by Michael Swan, The Catholic Register
Thursday, 30 January 2014 16:38 

A clergyman holds a religious picture during a rally by pro-European Union protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, Jan. 21. Ukrainian Catholic Church leaders appealed for calm as violent protests escalated after a government crackdown. A clergyman holds a religious picture during a rally by pro-European Union protesters in Kiev, Ukraine, Jan. 21. Ukrainian Catholic Church leaders appealed for calm as violent protests escalated after a government crackdown. - CNS photo/Gleb Garanich, Reuters

The struggle against corruption and for democracy in Ukraine has become the Church’s struggle for dignity, honesty and peace, says a Canadian Jesuit in Ukraine. “The Church’s role is quite significant in this whole call for a truer justice through peaceful means,” said Fr. David Nazar in a Jan. 26 e-mail to The Register.

Bishops, priests, nuns and lay brothers have been in the middle of protests in the main square of the Ukrainian capital. Ukrainians have been protesting against President Viktor Yanukovych since November, when the president shelved an agreement to deepen ties with the European Union and made clear his plans to forge tighter ties with Russia. The anti- government protests have been getting stronger and have recently been met with violence from Ukraine’s security forces. “The overall and enduring atmosphere on the square is peaceful non-violence,” reports Nazar. “There is no alcohol allowed. There is prayer every hour. There is no retaliation for the violence — and now five killings — by the special forces, except the stones to keep them at a distance. You really have to be impressed with the nature of this revolution.”

Nazar is a former provincial superior of the English Canadian Jesuits who has been in Ukraine over the last decade helping the order there set up schools and a novitiate program to accommodate a flood of young men seeking to become priests in the Catholic Church’s largest male religious order. Nazar has written for a Jesuit publication in Italy that the protesting Ukrainians have chosen Western, democratic and Christian ideals. “The Ukrainian people are European, even if the government is not,” wrote Nazar. “It is these very values, whose roots are Christian and which the West takes for granted, that represent the longing of the people and the healing of the country.”

Nazar’s report to The Register from Kiev’s Independence Square comes just as Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ president Paul-André Durocher has urged the prayers of all Canadian Catholics for peace and justice in Ukraine. “Let us ask Mary, who bore and protected the Light of the World, to intercede for us with her Son, the Prince of Peace. May we all be united with our Ukrainian Canadian martyrs, Blessed Bishop Nikita Budka and Blessed Basil Velychkovsky, both of whom suffered and died as a result of government repression, in praying for Ukraine in this its latest chapter of a long and painful struggle for freedom and democracy,” wrote Durocher in an open letter to Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, Metropolitan Archbishop of Canada’s Ukrainian Catholics.

Huculak has asked all Churches in Canada to pray for the unity of Ukraine. Prayers of petition at Ukrainian Catholic parishes in Canada will include: “We also pray for the people of Ukraine, that with the help of the Holy Spirit, they may obtain social peace, political harmony and economic stability: Lord, hear us and have mercy.” The various Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches active in Ukraine all support the revolution, said Nazar. Jesuits, including men studying for priesthood, have been active in the protests. And Church leaders say the government has been threatening restrictions on them for backing the protesters, including a ban that wreaks of Soviet-style repression.

“The Churches unambiguously stand with the people. Cardinals, bishops and priests have spoken on the maidan (Independence Square) where the crowds gather,” he said. “There is prayer every hour led by priests of various confessions. Their appeal, like that of the people, is for the values that guarantee healthy society — justice, transparency, reconciliation, social inclusion. They speak the will of the people.”

At the level of Church leadership, the one exception is the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate based in Moscow. "The Moscow Patriarchate wants the Russian union (with Ukraine) to strengthen its own base. Half of its Church is in Ukraine, and it’s the active half,” explains Nazar. “It cannot afford to support the people since this would offend (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and divide the Church, but it cannot openly support the (Ukrainian) President or it will lose its people.” Even most of the Russian- speaking Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine who are considered Yanukovych’s political base support the revolution, according to Nazar. “It is the last stand for this kind of Soviet-style authoritarianism in Ukraine… It is the last time this kind of government will exist in Ukraine.”

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Ukrainian struggle is Church’s struggle
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