The Head of the UGCC: "I never thought that the words of John Paul II concerning me would be prophetic"

Tuesday, 30 June 2015, 08:26
The Head of the UGCC: "I never thought that the words of John Paul II concerning me would be prophetic"

This was said in an interview to Polish journalists Grzegorz Gurny.

"In June 1999, when I defended my doctorate in Rome, I got an audience with the Pope John Paul II and had a chance to talk to Him. I told him: "Your Holiness, I graduated from the same university as you - Angelicum. I graduated from the same faculty - Moral theology. Now I am going to return to Ukraine and would like to ask for a blessing for a return". Pope looked at me intently and asked, "Are you from Kyiv or Lviv?" "From Lviv" - I replied. "Well, go to Kyiv, you'll have a lot of work there", - said the Holy Father. I never imagined what those words could mean, which proved to be prophetic. I thought that I would be a teacher of theology, but never thought that I would be the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Kyiv", - said the Primate of the Church.

Speaking about the role of St. John Paul II, which he played for Ukraine and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that over the years, John Paul II was a voice that spoke on behalf of those who had no voice. "He spoke on behalf of the silent church - said the Bishop – as Catholics were called in the Soviet Union. He was like Moses, who spoke to Pharaoh: "Let my people go". It is no coincidence that Soviet leader Mykhailo Gorbachev allowed the activities of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in connection with the visit to the Vatican and meeting with Pope John Paul II. Then also began the process of resurrection of our Church. The spiritual revolution began, which was the forerunner of the fall of the empire and the emergence of free Ukraine. Freedom of religion was like a prophetic harbinger of freedom for all the people".

He recalled that an important gesture during a visit to Ukraine of then Pope was that He canonized many Greek Catholic martyrs. "I remember, - continued the Head of the Church - the people then said, if the Pope stepped with his foot onto Ukrainian soil, then communism will never come back here. We can say that His visit to Ukraine secured religious freedom in our country. His call to "Fear not!" remains more relevant and strong in Ukraine, especially today".

Archbishop noted that this visit was important not only for Catholics but for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as well. "John Paul II arrived in Kyiv as a pilgrim to the site of the baptism of Rus, which was the source of Christianity in Eastern Europe. His words were especially important in the context of the search for reconciliation between divided Churches of East and West", - said the Head f the UGCC.

We need to remind that 23-27 June is turning the 14th anniversary of the visit of Saint John Paul II in Ukraine.

UGCC Department of Information

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