The New Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine announced the instructions he received from Pope Francis

Monday, 06 September 2021, 10:57
In an interview with Vatican Radio, he spoke about a meeting with the pope that took place before the official start of his mission.

"I would say it was a meeting between father and son... It was also a very joyful and lively meeting because I met a very energetic Pope, very rejuvenated... It was a great pleasure to have such a strong dad in front of you, with a clear mind that he remembers various details, in particular, from his personal life, since he has known Ukraine since he was 12 years old... Without going into details on political and ecclesiastical issues, he provided me with the guidelines for the vision of Ukraine. And this vision is primarily about encouragement. Because if people suffer, they need to be encouraged, which is not an easy task. This is also an encouragement for me. He stressed that from a certain point of view, it is a kind of risk to send such a young Nuncio, who is just starting this mission, to a country like Ukraine. But with his encouragement, I will remember the words on how to overcome various difficulties that will not be missed. He stressed that from a certain point of view, it is a kind of risk to send such a young Nuncio, who is just starting this mission, to a country like Ukraine. But with his encouragement, I will remember the words on how to overcome various difficulties that will not be missed," the nuncio said.

Regarding his mission in Ukraine, Visvaldas Kulbokas defined it as such:

"I perceive the mission of the Apostolic Nuncio primarily as a mission to proclaim Christ. When Jesus, as the Redeemer, becomes a priority, then all other issues that exist, various misunderstandings that arise, also due to Origin, belonging to a certain culture, etc., become relatively smaller. So when the light is placed on Jesus, everything else becomes relative. Moreover, when the Pope received me today, he repeatedly stressed joy: as Christians, starting from bishops, we must be carriers of joy. And where will joy come from if we focus only on problems? Of course, there are problems, they need to be solved, but without being discouraged by them. Thus, the Pope has advised: you will have difficulties every day, it is impossible to list all possible problems – the Ukrainian reality is complex, starting from the war, then – economic and social difficulties, how they affect politics, what concerns relations within the church, but also with other churches and religious organizations – you will have problems every day, but with the help of Jesus and the Saints, fulfill your mission in peace, with a sense of great peace, with a big heart, without losing inner joy. That was the Pope's encouragement."

Visvaldas Kulbokas is the first Nuncio in Ukraine originating from the former Soviet Union. When asked if there is any special experience that will be useful in his mission in Ukraine, Archbishop replied:

"I am confident of that. I don't go with the claim that I can solve all the problems... but it will help in the work. What I understand, what I can figure out on my own. You need to work, make an effort, but I am sure that this is my personal story that matters because I was born under the Soviet Union, when we were formally in the same country, my parents went to Kyiv for medical treatment. So, in the family home Kyiv was perceived as native, and now, going to Kyiv, I go to the city where my mom and dad have repeatedly visited, this is, therefore, my city. Therefore, it is much easier to go to work in a country so close to my heart, because there is much more understanding, at least a historical one. I don't want to say that I understand all the difficulties that exist today, but understanding historical difficulties will undoubtedly be a great help."

As reported, the appointment of a new Apostolic Nuncio was announced on June 15, 2021. He is a Lithuanian, Monsignor Visvaldas Kulbokas, at that time an adviser to the Nunciature. The episcopal ordination of the new representative of the Holy See in Ukraine took place on August 14 in Vilnius.

Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 2004. Since then, he has worked in diplomatic missions in Lebanon, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, the Department of the State Secretariat of the Holy See for relations with states and in Kenya.

Ukraine will become the first place of service as an Apostolic Nuncio.

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