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.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 11th November, 4pm

But see below for the Pontifical Divine Liturgy in Westminster Cathedral on 28th October, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Exarchate & Eparchy in the UK, served by His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father & Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.
The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

"It's Now or Never: The Return of the Eastern Christians to Iraq and Syria" - John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need gives the annual Christopher Morris Lecture in the Society's 90th year. Monday 27th November at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family. 6-15 pm Divine Liturgy, 7-15 pm Lecture, 8-15 pm Reception. £10 donation requested. RSVP to johnchrysostom@btinternet.com







Friday, 26 September 2014

Syrian Catholics fear airstrikes will worsen country’s woes - The Tablet - News

25 September 2014 14:05 by Liz Dodd

Bombing jihadists in Syria could make life worse for Christians in the region, the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo has warned.

Archbishop Boutros Marayati told the missionary news agency Fides that Syrian Christians did not consider those conducting the raids to be “liberators”.

"People here do not have a clear view of what is going on,” he said. “The prevailing sentiment is that the raids will not solve the problems, and may even increase them. The uncertainty that everyone lives every day increases even more. A question fathers and mothers of families ask themselves is whether it is still possible to remain or if the only salvation is to escape," he said.

Meanwhile the Catholic charity Pax Christi International urged the United Nations to look for non-violent solutions to the expansion of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS).

Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, and Marie Dennis, Pax Christi International co-presidents, and José Henriquez, the organisation's secretary-general, told the Catholic News Service that the air raids could serve to boost IS’s recruitment.

"We believe that especially the expansion of bombing is more likely to create significant recruiting bonanza for some of the extremist groups, ISIS included," Ms Dennis said.

Commenting on the situation in Iraq, Bishop Dowling said that the US invasion of the country in 2003 proved that war and violence was not a solution.

“We are now reaping the fruits of the fact that there wasn't an inclusive political, social response," Bishop Dowling said. He went on: “So we've got to find other ways, non-violent ways, inclusive ways."

Meanwhile Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope's secretary of state, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that terrorism "did not provide licence to meet violence with violence” but, in the words of St John Paul II after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “must be exercised with respect for moral and legal limits in the choice of ends and means”.

In addition, Parolin said, the international community must address the root causes of terrorism, which included social and economic inequality.

"Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organisations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies. Together with the legal tools and resources to prevent citizens from becoming foreign terrorist fighters, Governments should engage with civil society to address the problems of communities most at risk of radicalisation and recruitment and to achieve their satisfactory social integration," he said.

People of faith have a "grave responsibility" to condemn those who used faith to justify violence, he added.

In the UK, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Wednesday said he would recall Parliament, and MPs will vote on Friday on whether to join in US-led military action against IS. The Cabinet is meeting today to discuss plans for air strikes. Addressing the UN in New York today Mr Cameron, said that the UK was "ready to play its part".


Read online: The Tablet - News

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Patriarch Gregorios: Reflections on the anti-takfiri coalition

Certain thoughts spring to mind in view of the joint readiness of many, particularly European, countries to fight Islamic State and variously named takfiri groups: -      
 
  1. Why are some countries, especially those of the region where there has been bloodshed because of the crimes of Islamic State and other similar groups, apparently excluded from the anti-Islamic State coalition?
  2. Why are not all Arab countries joining this coalition?
  3. Furthermore, why wouldn’t Arab countries be first to unite solidly to form an effective frontline coalition to fight these takfiri groups?
  4. We believe that a united Arab stance would be most effective in achieving that objective.
  5. A united and coherent coalition would be a landmark in history, especially for Arab countries, providing very clear and solid evidence for the predominantly Muslim Arab countries being really entirely and unambiguously against those various takfiri movements.
  6. A united and cohesive Arab coalition would be like a badge of honour for the monarchs and presidents of Arab countries and a wonderful moral example for young people who are expecting such a stance.
  7. In that way all Arab countries with their nations and armed forces united in purposeful solidarity, would rise up to eliminate these takfiri parties and tendencies.
  8. This stance of Arab countries would be the setting for the genuine, real, moral, social, cultural victory of faith over these currents, because such an attitude is more powerful than weapons.
  9. We turn to the muftis of Arab countries, patriarchs and other leaders of Christian Churches to join their voices to this united and consistent stance.
  10. Such a united Arab stance would reassure the region’s Christian and other faith communities about their future and constitute clear and firm evidence that living together, based on citizenship and respect for others and their religion is possible, and that Arab countries are resolved to establish secular states and create developed Arab institutions founded on human rights, including especially freedom of worship, religion and conscience, and citizenship with equality of rights and duties for all. 
  11. So the Arab world, with its Muslim and Christian civil and religious leaders, would provide an exemplary model for moral values for the whole world, resulting in the international community’s joining in this united Arab stance to achieve this objective.
  12. We call upon our churches to raise prayers for this intention. From 22 September until 22 October we shall be holding a series of services in all Damascus’s churches in turn, with a service at 6p.m. every day in a church of a different denomination. The first service will take place in the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchal cathedral on 22 September at 6 p.m.    
We pray, “God, grant us thy peace, for thou hast given us everything!” and repeat the angelic Christmas hymn, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!”
 
+ Gregorios III 
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
 
20 September 2014

Melkite Patriarch Gregorios' Prayer for Peace and Relief in Syria Initiative

On the initiative of Patriarch Gregorios III (Laham) and after consultation with other patriarchs and bishops in Damascus, daily prayer services for peace in Syria and the Middle East will be held in turn in the city’s churches of all denominations.

The first inter-denominational or ecumenical service will be held at 6:00 p.m. on September 22nd at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus.

There will be daily prayers at 6:00 p.m. from September 22nd until October 22nd, 2014.

We invite all our readers to join us as we pray for peace in the churches of Damascus.

We suggest the following:

A Prayer for Peace in Syria and Assistance for its Refugees

Almighty and merciful God, grant that just as you made yourself known to Saul on the road to Damascus, you may soon convert hearts to peace in Syria, and that its people who have fled may soon return to their homeland.

We ask your blessing on those who, like your Son, have become refugees and have no place to call their own; look with mercy on those who today are fleeing from danger, homeless and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief; inspire generosity and compassion in all our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Bleeding Wound in a Political Heart

The Russian Army tries to force Eastern Catholics of Pratulin
 to abandon communion with the Apostolic See of Rome
The Maidan revolution of dignity was supported by all Churches and religious groups of Ukraine. It was opposed by the Kremlin and its allies. In a recent article for First Things, Ukrainian Orthodox (Moscow Patriarchate) Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun identified the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC) as a prominent and visible moral support to the justice movement. For this, the UGCC earned the ire of Putin and his cohorts. In January, the Russian strongman revealed his hand when, at a press conference in Paris, he lamented what he claimed had been agitation by "clergy from Western Ukraine" (read UGCC). Since that time, the rhetoric of the Russian state Church has taken on an increasingly hostile tone toward the UGCC (whom it continues to label "Uniate," an historical term which, already in the 18th century, had strong pejorative overtones), as well as to other religious groups in Ukraine. Such was the tone of a message by the Patriarch of Moscow, a close ally of Putin in his allegedly 'conservative,' anti-western crusade. 

The Moscow Patriarchate's chief of external affairs, Metropolitan Hilarion, a protégé of Kirill, has been consistent with Putin's anti-Ukrainian politik and its strong dose of anti-Catholic rhetoric. His statements resulted in him being banned from entering Ukraine, for a time, as persona non grata. For the past several years, Hilarion has attempted to smear Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in the eyes of, in his words, his "contacts in Rome." At the same time, the prelate has remained silent when asked, by the Apostolic See of Rome, to substantiate such claims.

The latest attack from the head of the Patriarchate's External Affairs Department comes directly on the heels of Russia's annexation of the Crimea and its invasion of Ukraine, accompanied by savage brutality toward (including execution of) non-Moscow churchmen. In a recent statement, the Metropolitan suggested that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue:

should revisit the issue of church unia, the discussion on which was not completed in 2000 due to sharp differences between the two sides concerning pastoral and canonical consequences of unia“Since unia still remains a bleeding wound on the body of the Christendom, as the recent events in Ukraine and extremely politicized statements of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic leaders have shown, this theme needs to be revisited.
In this statement, Metropolitan Hilarion expresses an anti-ecumenical line, linking the ecclesial reality of Eastern Catholics with political objectives. At the same time, the Moscow Patriarchate continues to ignore the accord reached by Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants at Balamand in 1993. Issued by the Joint International Commission, the Balamand Statement condemned proselytism by all sides while, at the same time, it officially affirmed the right of Eastern Catholics to exist and flourish.

The Patriarchate's anti-ecumenical agenda manifests itself in its attempts to place wedges, at the ecumenical table, between Catholics and Orthodox, between Western and Eastern Catholics, and to refuse to recognize Eastern Catholics at all, just as the Kremlin (true to a centuries-old imperialistic politik) adamantly refuses to recognise the Government of Ukraine, or even its existence as a nation.

Orthodox and Catholics have made great strides in their pilgrimage of mutual understanding and have shown themselves capable of engaging in fruitful ecumenical dialogue. Orthodox and Eastern Catholics frequently sit down together at the table of ecumenical fellowship, where they are capable and willing to express mutual respect and recognition. Sadly, time and again, Moscow's representatives chose to act as obstacles to that mutual-respect and to ecumenical progress. They do this by politicising ecumenical issues, while simultaneously accusing everyone else of doing so.

If it is true, as Hilarion claims, that "Unia [Eastern Catholics to civilized folk] remains a bleeding wound," then this wound is not to be found at the heart of Christendom, as he claims, but rather at the political heart of an Evil Empire which he serves.

Ecumenical engagement is built upon a foundation of truth in charity. In seeking to pursue Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, Church officials face a serious moral imperative, not only for the honour of the Apostolic See, but also out of respect for those Orthodox Churches willing to dialogue and, finally, out of respect for the least of their brethren, the Eastern Catholic Churches. That imperative is to ask the Moscow Patriarchate to send a worthy, ecumenically-minded, and ecumenically-behaved representative, not a persona non grata to churches and states alike.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Patriarch Gregorios: After the visit to Christian Valley and while flying to the Witness Summit in Washington

Today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin brings glad tidings to the universe. My prayer is for joy to fill the hearts of millions of people in our Arab countries, which are so filled with worries, fears, suffering and tragedy that impact lives both in public and in private.

While spreading hope and joy in Christian Valley I could not help noticing the profound suffering of displaced persons. Though they are safe where they are, they are labouring under the weight of cares, afflictions and very painful memories concerning their homes, relatives, possessions and their own and their children’s future. 

Today my fellow Patriarchs and I are flying to Washington on this gruelling journey to the United States. 

My feelings are mixed! On the one hand I am content to be on the way of the cross along with our countries, parishes and fellow-citizens. We bear the sufferings and expectations of them all as the Second Vatican Council affirms, and as Saint Paul said so eloquently. All are pinning all their hopes on the Church. Did not our Lord Jesus tell us, “Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

Yes, let the Spirit speak in us! I hear what the Lord God is saying within me! He speaks peace for his people and his elect. His salvation is nigh for the one who fears him. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ps 84:10 LXX /85:10)

My contribution before the greatest power among the nations is meant to be a spiritual witness in favour of peace in our region: its security, and living together among the various constituents, especially the young! This is a common responsibility. The Church is an integral part of that society and we have a common responsibility in the face of so much suffering and tragedy. We make up part of this tragedy and we also represent a part of the solution. I should like to recall here a threefold sentence proper to the medical team that works in a hospital in Germany and which is helping me complete the projected building of a hospital between Damascus and Daraa in the native village of my mother where the Apostle Paul stayed for three years after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

Here is the slogan:
Who? if not us!
Where? If not here!
When? If not now!

I’ll be using this slogan effectively in this great country where great decisions are made.  I am putting this slogan to the West with love and trust. And I’m also putting it to the East, our Arab countries, kings, princes, state presidents and heads of government….

I’m really very hopeful that the patriarchs’ voice may be heard as was the prophets’ and sages’! Our visit and participation represent an historic step in the annals of the Church. Today the Church, more than any other society, entity, institution or organisation bears this responsibility, and, as patriarchs, we ought to continue our initiatives at every level, knocking on every door : of hearts, to change the inclination of States and international organisations. Yes, the Church must offer every sacrifice, take every step regardless of cost for it represents the roots and foundations of Christian and Muslim Arab society.

It is called to bring about peace in the region in order to be worthy of the Beatitude shown by its Master and Founder among peace-makers, the One who is Prince and King of Peace: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” May it be a peace-maker like its Master and gather into one the children of God scattered abroad.

This is the greatest and most sublime goal of all the mysteries of our Christian faith: the incarnation. Jesus, the Word incarnate, said, defining the goal of his incarnation and coming into this world: “I am come that they (everyone) might have life and might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

That is the role and story of the Church. That is still its message today!

Fear not little flock the great role that is yours, for the welfare of all humanity!

The unified and harmonised voice of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs who share a common vision has as its goal to be the trigger for a global and really ecumenical Christian consensus on the East. Thus the Church’s voice will be one both in the East and in the West: the Holy Father and the Catholic Church through its bishops’ assemblies, the Orthodox Churches, the Anglican and other reformed Churches. Let us promulgate a joint spiritual declaration that highlights the Church’s role in the current existential crisis. That is a special challenge and unique opportunity for the Church to act in favour of peace in the predominantly Muslim Arab East. So it shows its role and vocation to Eastern society. This can only strengthen the Christian presence, role, vocation and involvement in the East so as to give Christians the strength of conviction to remain anchored in the Middle East, cradle of Christianity. 

From our history, culture and lived, shared experience, the Churches must walk in step to broaden their sphere of action to reach the spiritual leadership of our Muslim brethren too, so that the patriarchs and muftis and ulema of Arab countries can meet and work together to reflect on the current crises and tragedies of our Arab world, especially on the development of fundamentalism, terrorism and takfirism as they have recently appeared. Let them draw up reports and action plans to remedy these situations. That would be a providential opportunity and historic step which has to be undertaken together.

Recently I sent a letter on this subject to the muftis of Arab countries and I trust that they will react positively to it. 

Here is a road-map inspired by Christian and Muslim faith and it is a fundamental stage towards a unified strategy based on a single vision. 

As patriarch with the title of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem and with residences in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem I have experienced in a special way the tragedies associated with the Arab Spring in Egypt and Syria, Gaza and Lebanon. Our faithful are facing a fire that is consuming the region: it burns and destroys, kills and terrorises. I have witnessed their sufferings and on 20 August we visited those who had taken refuge in Erbil, far from the ethnic cleansing of the Islamic State. 

Faced with this dramatic reality that we are experiencing in the East, I am launching an existential appeal: we all in the Arab world, to whatever denomination we may belong, are facing a single historic challenge: “to be or not to be.” As our great singer Fayrouz said after Jerusalem was taken in 1967: “Love has withdrawn and the world’s heart has been consumed by war.”

That is my deep fear! Here is my appeal that I am making with a broken heart in this Washington summit. I trust that my cry will reach your awareness and heart in your assembly, congress and organisations! 

Save the Arab world ! Save the Arab East! with all its constituents, ethnicities and confessions. Put the fire out! It’s at your door!

As Pope Francis said when he visited Jordan on 24 April: peace in the Middle East has two keys : a real peaceful solution in Syria and justice in the Palestinian case. 

Dear friends, 

In the East we shall succeed in overcoming this identity crisis. Our perseverance in living together (despite difficulties), as we have done throughout our long history is the only warranty for safety and well-being in the Middle East, and even for the West (Europe, the United States) and Australasia. Light comes from the East. From the East which has given the light of faith, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there comes and is fulfilled the salvation of the world. 

Join us on the march of Christian faith, charity and hope!

We are praying for you to be peace-makers: may the peace of Christ be in your hearts, minds, souls and countries. 

On board the plane to Washington, 8/9/2014

+Gregorios III Laham

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Beginning of the Indiction - Homily at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, London

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Beginning of the Indiction, Venerable Symeon the Stylite and Martha his Mother
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family of London, 1 September/14 September 2014

1 Corinthians 1.21-2.4 - Matthew 22. 2-14


At the height of the Christian Roman Empire, the great legal reformer Emperor Justinian, issued a decree (that is, an indiction) to ensure that everyone use a common dating system for contracts, official acts and legal documents. This had the remarkable consequence of moving the date of the imperial new year from its date from time immemorial - the Birthday of Augustus, pagan founder of the Empire, on September 23rd - to September 1st.

You will recall that St Luke describes how the Birth of Jesus took place in the context of another administrative decree from that very same Caesar Augustus, at a time which St Paul identified (Galatians 4.4-7) as “the fullness of time”, when there was peace throughout the known world of the Empire. So it is significant that, by the mid sixth century, the prestige of the founding Emperor was no longer common ground for the citizens of the Empire, or part of its identity. Instead, it is Jesus Christ himself. To this day, September 1st is the first day of the monthly Calendar for the Byzantine Churches of the Christian East. It remains programmatic for us all, because September is still the beginning of our academic and school years, and all of us feel the new working year really begins after the summer, with the burden of work to be done with the coming of the season of the harvest. This is reflected in the chants for today, which celebrate the bounty of God’s providence towards the people in the fruits of the creation: “Fashioner of all creation,” we sing in the Troparion for today, “Bless the crown of the year, O Lord, with Your goodness…”. Recently, September 1st has thus become for a large part of the Byzantine tradition a day of celebration and prayer for the environment, its careful stewardship and protection.

But today is also Sunday, a day when we think not only of this world, and its chronology and destiny, but of the Kingdom that is to come. In this Sunday’s Kontakion, in praising Christ our God, we go one further than this creation to the next: “With Yourself … You raised the dead and shattered the sting of death, and delivered Adam from the curse, O Lover of Mankind”. As St Paul reminds us, we set our affection on the things that are above, and not the things of the earth, because likewise we have died and our life is hid with Christ, in God (Colossians 3.2). In other words, we have to be whole people, leading holistic lives. Just as we are not complete persons if we live only with our material preoccupations, ignoring the human dimension that is spiritual, our soul; so we cannot live in the Resurrection of Christ, which became our defining characteristic when we were baptised in him, if we withdraw ourselves from the physical fact of the world and the body, as though they do not exist.

We have a clue to managing this seemingly impossible dual identity of ours - being citizens of the Kingdom of God, at the same time as active participants in the bountiful, beautiful and hopeful world he has created - in the words of today’s other observance, the feast of St Symeon the Stylite, of whom we have sung: “Seeking things above, you joined yourself to those on high; you made your pillar a fiery chariot, through which, O venerable one, you became a companion of the angels. With them, unceasingly implore Christ God on our behalf.” (Kontakion of St Symeon). Living in the company of the beings of heaven, he was also dwelling into advanced old age in the world, facing God at the same time as being seen by people, inspiring them and never forgetting to intercede for them.

We can put it another way. The great country, blues, and Gospel singer Johnny Cash captured an old saying, when he wrote a song about people who let their own light shine, without shining the light for others; who go to stand on the spiritual high ground for themselves, but don’t take the hands of those reaching to be lifted up there too. He sings, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” (The Rambler, 1977). This is precisely it: Christ wants it that, the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be.

We can put it another way still. In today’s Gospel, we have the extraordinary tale of the guests who are too grand or ignorant to attend the wedding of their king’s son. The doors are thrown open for all to attend, not just the chosen few, even to the extent of gathering in the people who live on the streets. Then the king throws someone out of the banquet for not wearing the appropriate finery. At first sight, it looks unjust that the king rounds up last-minute guests in the middle of what they are doing, and then punishes them for coming unprepared. Many scholars explain this away by saying that St Matthew has just added together two separate stories with a wedding theme; but I think they are missing the point. For Jesus begins by telling a story with a popular theme, familiar to us from the Magnificat: the rich put down and sent empty away, while the humble and poor are exalted in their place – a typical “them-and-us” story. But then he gives it a twist to surprise us all out of our complacency and self-satisfaction, rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike. In the Epistle, St Paul explains what Jesus means: “God establishes you in the Anointed Christ, and anoints you by putting His seal on us, and giving us His Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.” So there you have it: first, God the Father compels us to come into the wedding feast of His Son and seals our adoption as His own sons and daughters, co-inheritors with Christ of the whole Kingdom itself. Then the Spirit is bestowed in our hearts as the first instalment of our new way of living. But those who misuse or waste this first flow of grace will lose when it comes to the ensuing graces, whoever they are: “Many are called,” Jesus observes, “but few are chosen.”

What in us has become of this first instalment of grace? Has it simply got stuck in our hearts, or does it show in our minds in the way we decide things; does it show on the outside through the way we act? Where is the grace upon grace? Where are the signs of spiritual progress, after receiving not only the King’s invitation, but the honour of a new standing in His Kingdom? Why do we look and behave and think as before? In the case of that unchanged wedding guest, something showed the king that everything he had been given had made no difference, for there was no sign of new growth in grace beyond that “first instalment” from the Holy Spirit. Either he was living in the world, cutting himself off from the heaven that had been planted in his heart; or he was living on a personally fulfilled religious plane, with no sign to show for it in the world and for the world. The guest thrown out was not fit for the Kingdom, not because he had made no effort, but because he was enjoying heaven for himself, and living as though nothing had changed. He was not, as the Lord’s Prayer implores, seek the Kingdom to come “on earth, as it is in heaven”. He was not a whole person, living spiritually and holistically in the world. He was unable to be what the Christian must always be seen to be: a new creation in Christ, a different way of humanity.

So what is this difference to humanity that, for instance, an astonishing saint like St Symeon, or a new Church Year resolves us to seek and emulate? Well, first, St Matthew reports how, even when we fast and lament, we should not put on the act of sorrow and penitence for public consumption, but anoint ourselves with the oil of gladness (Matthew 6.17), just like at a wedding. Joy and confidence in Christ as the centre of all things, then, are the first signs to the world of the presence of God in our midst. Secondly, as we face the prospect of war and the vicious destruction of Christianity in the lands that cradled the Church from its birth, the only point of Christians is that we are people not of revenge and ancient hatreds, of self-pity and recrimination, but of persevering forbearance and inexhaustible forgiveness, people serving reconciliation and bringing healing, people of faith in Christ’s promises, hope in His ever coming Kingdom, and unconditional love for God and neighbour - and enemy.

These are the precepts of heaven for a new Church Year: the more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will be in serving the coming of Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Bishops in Synod: Ukraine is flowing with blood

We, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church from Ukraine and from countries of Ukrainian settlements in North and South America, Australia, and Europe, gathered at the annual Holy Synod in Lviv, conscious of the responsibility entrusted to us for our flock, raise our voice on behalf of the people of Ukraine and call out to the people of the world: "Ukraine is flowing with blood!" This peaceful sovereign nation has been subjected to a direct military intervention by a northern neighbor. Hundreds of units of heavy weaponry and technology, thousands of armed mercenaries and soldiers of Russia’s standing army are crossing the borders of Ukraine, sowing death and destruction, in disregard for the terms of the ceasefire and recent diplomatic efforts. At the same time, propaganda continues at an unprecedented level of hatred and distortion of the real state of affairs, which is no less damaging than weapons of mass destruction.
The entire world has been able to witness how, over the last months, the aggressor commits crimes against humanity on the territory of Ukraine. The whole world was shocked with the criminal act of the downing of the Malaysian plane, in which 298 people from 10 different countries died. Thousands of people, especially women and children, have been recklessly killed; and it has not been possible to even bury them with dignity. Many of the wounded are forced to simply wait for death due to the inaccessibility of medical assistance. Thousands of people are being kidnapped and subjected to torture and public humiliation against their human dignity.. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are being forced to flee their homes due to threats against their lives and the danger of death. If these crimes are not stopped immediately, with the onset of the winter cold, the death toll will increase tenfold. Those, who kill people in Ukraine today, will not hesitate tomorrow to turn their weaponry against anyone, in their own country and beyond its borders, or attack any other nation in the world.
In the face of such grave crimes we call out to the consciences of believers of all religions and faiths, we appeal to all people of good will, to heads of state, and members of the international community: "Stop the bloodshed in Ukraine!" Today, silence or inaction, reluctance to recognize the gravity of the situation, which has arisen in our country, can not only turn everyone into a mute or indifferent witness, but also into an accomplice of the sin of murder, which cries to heaven for justice as the Scripture says: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground" (Genesis 4:10). How can we not recall the words of Saint John Paul II, who in the distant year of 1979, in the vicinity of the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, said: "War is caused not only by those who wage it directly but also by those who do not do everything in their power to avoid it." We especially call for responsible action from those whom the Lord has given authority, to take the necessary decisions at the political level in order to restore peace and security in Europe. And once again we call all believers and people of good will to urgent prayers for the end of aggression and the restoration of a lasting and comprehensive peace in Ukraine.
Convinced that God is with us in our sufferings and troubles, that He will hear our common pleas and prayers, and with the coordinated efforts of the international community, we will be able to stop the bloodshed, to defend human dignity, and restore life-giving peace.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav
Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych
His Grace Ihor (Vozniak)
Metropolitan of Lviv
His Grace Volodymyr (Viytyshyn)
Metropolitan of Ivano-Frankivsk
His Grace Vasyl (Semeniuk)
Metropolitan of Ternopil
His Grace Ivan (Martyniuk)
Metropolitan of Przsemysl and Warsaw
His Grace Lawrence (Huculak)
Metropolitan of Winnipeg
His Grace Stephen (Soroka)
Metropolitan of Philadelphia
His Grace Volodymyr (Kovbych)
Metropolitan of Curitiba and Brasil
His Excellency Borys (Gudziak)
Bishop of Eparchy of St. Volodymyr in Paris for Ukrainians of the Byzantine rite
in France and Benelux 
And all the Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church