Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
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Every Sunday - 9am Divine Liturgy in English (fully or mostly) at the Holy Family Cathedral

Owing to public health regulations, services will be sung only by one reader or cantor. There is no singing by the people for the moment. If you wish to attend on Sunday, booking is essential on this phone line: 07956 066727. Masks must be worn and distance maintained.

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 for details.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri: Back to the roots - Terrasanta, 26 March 2014

In the March-April 2014 issue of the two-monthly Italian magazine Terrasanta, Manuela Borraccino interviews Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect, in the Vatican, of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. An Argentinean with Italian origins, Sandri was one of the closest collaborators of Popes John Paul II and Benedict  XVI. In the conversation, the cardinal touches on various subjects; from the conflict in Syria to the forthcoming papal trip to the Holy Land. On the return of the Cenacle to the Catholic Church, he does not rule out pleasant surprises. Here are some extracts from the interview.


What has the privilege of going often to the Holy Land meant for you?
I have to say that, although they were often business trips, for me each time it was like going back to my roots. As Psalm 87 says: «All my sources are in you, Jerusalem.” I felt the sources of my faith there, of my meeting with Jesus. So I always tried to combine the dimensions of a pilgrimage with these missions, to make them an encounter of purification through the places that were the scene of the passage of Jesus on earth. I try as far as possible to identify myself with the bleeding woman in the Gospel who, by touching the edge of the robe, is healed, or with the many who have tried to touch the shadow of the Lord. I endeavour to return to the humanity of Christ as the source of my conversion, to purify me on contact with the places that saw his steps, received his voice and his gaze.

Which places do you feel most attached to?
Apart from the Holy Sepulchre which  represents the fulcrum of our faith, apart from Bethlehem where humanity received the announcement of peace, apart from the Sea of Galilee with the storms that the Church has lived through in all periods but also comforted by the presence of Jesus who calmed down the wind blowing against him, apart from many other  places, from the  Mount of Beatitudes to Capharnaum, one of the places that is dearest to me is without a doubt the Cenacle: this is where the Last Supper took place, this is where the Lord gave himself in the Eucharist in which the Church lives, this is where the Lord gave himself to us in the priesthood, this is where the Lord showed us, with the washing of the feet, the path of humility and service, as an Ethiopian icon I have  at home reminds me. It is a warning for us shepherds and for the whole Church. The Pentecost took place in the Cenacle: with the force of the Spirit that stretches to the ends of the earth the Church was born,  accompanied by Mary. The Cenacle is almost the emblem of the aspirations of the disciples of Christ, comforted by the Spirit and by the mandate of service.

The Cenacle has been at the centre of talks for its return for many years (*). Do you think that this could be a gesture towards Pope Francis?
I think that surprises cannot be ruled out, especially by a people who are sensitive to religious claims, like the people of Israel, a people that understand the importance of this place for Christians, and for Catholics in particular. It would be magnificent not only because it would be a unilateral act, but above all as a gesture that corresponds to the love that Pope Francis shows for the Jewish  people, and that we all show for the faith of Abraham.

In your opinion, are there margins for the resumption of the peace process?
Despite all the stalemates, the dialogue has gone ahead. The Church hopes that the efforts continue for a reasonable, just and harmonious settlement of the different interests and  aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians and asks for the respect of religious freedom and the freedom of movement for all, it asks that security be guaranteed for all and not only the Israelis, it asks that people do not have to live in fear: many Christians have been forced to ask for respect after episodes of threats and vandalism that have taken place in recent years. I believe that there is space to continue along a path of reconciliation with determination and with that greatness of spirit which allows overcoming fears and leads to honourable solutions for everyone.

What does the forthcoming trip by the Pope to Amman and Jerusalem mean?
In Amman, the meeting between Pope Francis and the victims of this humanitarian catastrophe caused by the war in Syria, after the tragedy of Iraq, will be very important. Meeting the refugees will show that the Church is on the side of those who suffer, and will represent an invitation to the whole world for concrete help for these people. The trip will fundamentally have an ecumenical meaning, in the wake of a question that is asked of all of us and which is increasingly incomprehensible: why are we divided? Why, if we all believe in Christ are we displaying this spectacle of division? It is enormously significant that the Pope will meet the Patriarch Bartholomew and will embrace him exactly as Paul VI and Athenagoras embraced 50 years ago, in the Holy Sepulchre, which represents the place where the division of the Christians is felt at its greatest. There Francis and Bartholomew will embrace, to renew the promise of wanting to achieve unity, as in the oration to the Father of Jesus: “May they be one thing only.”

What memory do you have of John Paul II and his last months?
I remember the days the Pope spent in the Gemelli Hospital, in particular at the end of his second stay. I was impressed by a short conversation I had with him after the tracheotomy, when they were trying to teach him a new way of speaking and the greatest  suffering for the Pope was to see he was unable to speak. Despite the pain, the Pope made that gigantic effort to learn. I asked him; “Holiness, what can we do for you?” He answered: “Take me home!” Which meant: “Let me resume my mission together with the Lord.” I will never forget his effort of willpower in those very sad days: I clearly perceived that that strength did not come from him but  the Lord gave it to him. The effort to tell himself and his collaborators: I want to go home, I want to speak again despite the tracheotomy, to resume my work, my ministry and my service.”


(*) – Editor’s note: After having legitimately lived in it for two centuries, in 1552 – whilst Jerusalem was under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire – the Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land were expelled from the Cenacle, on Mount Zion. Since then they have never ceased claiming that it is their property, in the name of the Catholic Church. The request for it to return into their possession is now one of the questions discussed in the talks between the Holy See and the State of Israel, the government of which took control of the building in 1948. The Custos of the Holy Land still has the title of “Guardian of Mount Zion” today, with reference to the first seat of the Custody: the convent in the building of the Cenacle.

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