Patriarch Sviatoslav tells the Pope about the problems of Ukrainian society: war, oligarchs, and pandemics

Saturday, 13 November 2021, 15:51
Today, in an audience with Pope Francis, His Beatitude Sviatoslav spoke about the pastoral service of the UGCC in the context of the pandemic and the main current challenges and problems of Ukrainian society.

According to the UGCC Information Department, attention was paid to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine in the context of the pandemic. His Beatitude Sviatoslav told the Pope that "the modern post-Soviet space lives in conditions when the rich become even richer and the poor even poorer.

A small oligarchic group is being enriched by destroying small and medium-sized businesses, in fact, the middle class is disappearing, the impoverishment of the people is happening at a rapid pace, people are afraid of winter, prices are rising. The energy war that is being waged against Ukraine adds special aggravation. These difficulties are superimposed on the problem of the war in eastern Ukraine, which has not stopped since 2014."

The head of the UGCC thanked Pope Francis for his constant prayers and support for Ukraine. "The Pope for Ukraine campaign has become not only a real tool of your solidarity with our people but also helped our Caritas-Ukraine develop its own charity network, in particular in the Donbas," the UGCC Primate stressed.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav also touched upon the topic of emigration, pointing out that approximately 10 million people left Ukraine during the years of independence.

"Our church continues to follow its faithful from the first migration waves to this day. This is the slogan of the next session of Our Patriarchal Council: "your church is always and everywhere with you." Pope Francis highly appreciated such pastoral care of the UGCC: "this is exactly what the Synodal road is in action, when you search for your faithful, follow them and try to serve them."

In this context, His Beatitude Sviatoslav thanked the Pope for creating an Apostolic Exarchate for Ukrainian Greek Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Italy, pointing out the pastoral needs of the UGCC in other countries. "We see that our faithful need the presence of their church and new, more effective ways to organize our church life."

The Holy Father's special attention was focused on the pastoral letter of the Synod of Bishops of the UGCC in 2021 "The hope to which the Lord calls us". The head of the UGCC told His Holiness about the main idea of this message, which is a pastoral appeal: "We are talking about changing the way of pastoral care, the way of relations between the bishop and the clergy, between priests and the faithful, about changing the way of life of the Church. The horizontal network of relationships, which collects and creates communication in collaboration, is fundamental for us."

"One of the priorities of the pastoral plan," said the Primate of the UGCC, "is the healing of various kinds of wounds: those that were provoked in different periods of the history of our people, and modern ones caused by the abuse of church power, and so on. These wounds require immediate treatment. We strive to bend over the wounds of modern man, to be sensitive to his needs, to discover for him the cure of Divine Grace and Holy Sacraments."

In the context of a conversation about the life of the Church in the context of the pandemic, the topic of the family was discussed. According to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the family has become "the most effective Hospital for treating patients with coronavirus." That is why the role of the family in public and church life should be rethought. "We can't talk about a living parish without a family, which is the primary cell of its life. Only in this way can the parish be inclusive and serve the modern person."

His Beatitude Sviatoslav also told the Holy Father about the church's service to the poor and marginalized segments of the population. "The continuous "Feed the Poor" campaign has become a manifestation of Christian charity in our parishes. Feeling the Christian need for solidarity with the poor, many of our faithful returned from "online" to parish life precisely because of this initiative. We decided to continue this action in particular in the context of celebrating the day of the poor in the Catholic Church because for many families it is really saving in the current crisis."

For his part, the Holy Father highly appreciated the pastoral ministry of the UGCC in the current pandemic crisis and thanked them for their important contribution to the Synodal process of the Catholic Church.

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