“I want to solemnly commence in our Church the Year of Faith,” His Beatitude Sviatoslav in Rome

Thursday, 18 October 2012, 20:35
“By the symbolic act of blessing this restored Cathedral of Saint Sophia in the Eternal City of Rome, according to the resolution of our Synod of Bishops, responding to the call of His Holiness Benedict XVI, I am commencing the Year of Faith in our Church,” stated UGCC Head, His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), at the beginning of his sermon (audio) during the celebratory Pontifical Divine Liturgy in the restored Cathedral of Saint Sophia in Rome, held on Sunday, October 14, 2012.

Co-celebrators of the Divine Liturgy were heads of Eastern Rite Catholic Churches: Patriarch of  Antioch  Gregory  III (Laham), Head of the Melkite GCC; His Beatitude Mar Baselios (Cleemis), Head of the Syrian-Malan Church Head;  His Grace Yan (Babiak), Archbishop-Metropolitan of  Priashev, Head of Slovak GCC; His Grace William (Skurla), Metropolitan of Pittsburgh, Head of the Ruthenian GCC in USA; and also Cardinal Rozhe Echeteray, meritorious president of the Papal Commission on Justice and Peace;  UGCC metropolitans and bishops from Ukraine and other settlements; Head of the Bishops Conference of Belarus, Archbishop Thaddeus Kondrusievich;  Bishop Joseph Werth, S.J., Apostolic Administrator  of  Novosibirsk (Russia) and Ordinarius for Byzantine-Rite faithful in his country; as well as some fifty priests.  Several thousand pilgrims from Ukraine and diaspora joined in praying the Liturgy.

During his sermon, UGCC Head turned to the Head of the Melkite GCC, Patriarch Gregory III, and offered solidarity for Christians of Syria and the Near East,  imploring all to pray for them.

Furthermore, the sermon focused on the role of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin who continually extends her “maternal hand” to our people.  The Patriarch cited the experience of His Beatitude Josyf Slipyi as an illustrative example.  For the first time since the destruction of UGCC, here in Rome, the UGCC bishops gathered on the occasion of the Second Vatican Council and openly declared their concern in the void which they experienced at this monumental assembly due to the absence of their Church Head, who was then undergoing already the eighteenth year of incarceration and forced labor in camps.   “Thereby, some fifty years ago, in a strange manner began the emancipation of our Church and our people from the contemporary ‘egyptian’ --  that is, communist slavery,”  stated UGCC Head.  And already within a year, the miraculously saved Witness of Faith came to Rome.  Here in Rome, in the Church of the Zhyrovytska Mother of God icon, gazing at the eyes of the miraculous icon, he understood that She was the one who led him through all his trials and brought him to the Eternal City, so that “he could begin the process of freeing our Church from slavery.”

“The Mother of God is the one who guides us on the path of Christian faith,” emphasized His Beatitude Sviatoslav, adding that her protection extends to all in Ukraine and other places of abode.

In referring to the Year of Faith, the UGCC Head repeated the words of Pope Benedict XVI that the task of this period is to show the world the beauty and the truth of our faith.  The restored Saint Sophia Cathedral eloquently expresses “the Wisdom of God which shines through the beauty of the Cathedral, exhibiting for us the beauty and the truth of Christian faith,” stated UGCC Primate.

Pope Benedict’s epistle, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was read in Ukrainian and in Italian by Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation of Oriental Churches, imparting also the blessings of the Holy Father to all the pilgrims and all Ukrainian people.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav sincerely thanked the donors, restorers and organizers of the pilgrimage.  And a special word of gratitude was said to the pilgrims who, in spite of difficulties, came to this celebration.

The Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church invited all to come to Kyiv on August 18, 2013 and join the All-Ukrainian Pilgrimage marking the 125th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine and the Year of Faith.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude Sviatoslav gave a press conference.

Radio Vatican

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