Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church Gregorios III visits Ukraine on the occasion of the enthronement

Thursday, 31 March 2011, 21:49
March 28 marked the end of a visit to Ukraine by the Head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem Gregorios III (Laham). Patriarch Gregorios III was accompanied by two bishops from the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church - Archbishop Michael Abras and Metropolitan Emeritus John Haddad. He was also joined by Patriarchal Economos General, Secretary of the Liturgical Commission, Rev. Fr. Elias Shatawi. The official delegation of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has come to Kyiv on the occasion of the enthronement of the newly elected Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
March 28 marked the end of a visit to Ukraine by the Head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem Gregorios III (Laham). Patriarch Gregorios III was accompanied by two bishops from the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church - Archbishop Michael Abras and Metropolitan Emeritus John Haddad. He was also joined by Patriarchal Economos General, Secretary of the Liturgical Commission, Rev. Fr. Elias Shatawi. The official delegation of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has come to Kyiv on the occasion of the enthronement of the newly elected Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav.  “I think that the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church are both called to play a very significant role in ecumenical work.  They are, in fact, the two largest Churches of the Byzantine rite (Greek and Slavonic) in communion with Rome” - noted the Head of the Melkite Greek Catholics in his greeting address during the enthronement of the Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Resurrection in Kyiv. The Patriarch observed that he is happy about the development of the ecclesial, brotherly communion between the two Churches. He commented, “This communion is largely due to a long-standing friendship (of more than twenty years) with our dear brother and friend, His Most Eminent Beatitude Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. He is a great hero, a champion of the Christian East, its tradition, heritage and ecumenical mission!” According to Gregorios III, His Beatitude remains the Father of the Church and great defender of the ecumenical mission of the Eastern Catholic Churches. As a result, it remains in full communion with the Church of Rome that presides in charity and with the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, who showed his love for the Christian East by holding the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. “The mission of the Easter Catholic Churches consists in remaining faithful to the Eastern tradition and maintaining cordial relations with the Orthodox sister Churches, ever present in all ecumenical work.” – emphasised His Beatitude Gregorios III. The Patriarch stated that he has an intention to keep up good relations between the two churches. He said, “Since we ought to integrate our efforts in the accomplishment of greatest service to the Church and to the world, which is to realise Christ’s prayer, “That they may be one...that the world may believe. “Today these greetings and good wishes reach your Beatitude through us. They also eminate from Jerusalem - the Mother Church of all Churches, and from the Holy Land - where our Lord Jesus Christ was born. And equally so, they radiate from the Middle East – our cradle of Christianity” This was the greeting offered by the Patriarch of the Church of Antioch to the newly elected Head of the UGCC. It was proclaimed in the name of the Church of the East, Church of the Arabs, and in the name of all the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches who constitute the Council of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs. During the reception, after the solemn Divine Liturgy, Patriarch Gregorios III presented to His Beatitude a beautiful omoforion (a mooring) – a symbol of pastoral care of a hierarch. During his visit to Ukraine, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church also met with members of the Synod of Bishops and expressed his specific proposals for cooperation between the Ukrainian Greek- Catholic and Melkite Greek Catholic and Churches. His Beatitude Gregory III presented to the Primate of the UGCC an antimins (altar cloth) as a sign of unity between the two sister Churches. His Beatitude Sviatoslav in return gave to Patriarch Gregorios III Easter eggs made by famous Ukrainian artists.

During their stay in Kyiv the official delegation of the Melkite Greek-Catholic Church visited St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Kyiv Pecherska Lavra. It was reported to the UGCC Information Department by deacon Volodymyr Malchyn, vice-chancellor of the Curia of the Major Archbishop, that before the enthronement, His Beatitude Gregory III had a brotherly meeting with His Beatitude Lubomyr.  
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