Ukrainian Greek Catholic synod said Pope Francis made ‘painful’ remarks.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic synod said Pope Francis made ‘painful’ remarks.

Pope’s Expression of Sorrow During their meeting, the Pope conveyed his profound sorrow for the profound sense of helplessness that people experience in the face of war, which he described as “a thing of the devil, who wants to destroy.” His heartfelt concern extended particularly to the Ukrainian children he has encountered during various audiences. He shared his observation that these children, who have endured the hardships of conflict, have lost their smiles. He emphasized that this loss of innocence and joy among children is one of the tragic consequences of war.

Shevchuk’s Response In response to the Pope’s sentiments, Shevchuk released a press statement. He characterized the meeting as a valuable opportunity for both sides to engage in mutual listening and engage in open and honest dialogue. Shevchuk expressed that they had conveyed to the Pope the heartfelt concerns and messages entrusted to them by the faithful in Ukraine and around the world. The meeting served as a platform for the Ukrainian leadership to articulate the sentiments and experiences of their community to His Holiness.

Meeting in Rome Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk marked September 6, 2023, by presenting Pope Francis with a collection of significant religious items. These items, including a prayer book, rosary, and missionary cross, had belonged to two Redemptorist priests, Father Ivan Levytskyi and Father Bohdan Heleta, who were captured by Russian troops in November 2022. This gesture took place at the Secretariat of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk in Rome.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Synod The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church synod convened in Rome, coinciding with the Synod of Bishops of the Latin Catholic Church, scheduled for one month later. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic synod exclusively consisted of bishops, with 56 bishops participating out of a total of 67. The synod took place at the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat, focusing on the theme of “Pastoral Support for Victims of War.”

During the opening Divine Liturgy at the Basilica of St. Sophia in Rome on September 3, Major Archbishop Shevchuk highlighted the record participation of 56 bishops, noting that nearly half of them were younger than himself. This observation signified the synod’s youthful vigor, earning it the moniker “Synod of Hope” for the Ukrainian Church and its people. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Catholic Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, also attended the liturgy.

Upcoming Divine Liturgy The synod plans to host a Divine Liturgy open to all Catholics on the morning of September 10 at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Meetings with Vatican Officials On September 5, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops engaged in discussions with Vatican officials, including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. During this meeting, Parolin agreed to Major Archbishop Shevchuk’s proposal to convene a meeting of the Permanent Interdicasterial Commission for the Church in Eastern Europe. This commission aims to gather representatives from the Eastern Catholic Church “sui iuris,” the Latin Church, and experts to address issues related to war’s origins. Parolin stressed the importance of minimizing the effects of war, even when it stems from self-defense, through both words and actions.

Pope’s Prayer and Marian Intercession The encounter between Pope Francis and the Ukrainian bishops began with the joint recitation of the Our Father, directed toward Ukraine and its people. The meeting concluded with a prayer for the intercession of the Virgin Mary in front of an icon of the Theotokos, or Mother of God. The Vatican reported that the Pope prays daily for Ukrainians before this icon, a gift from Major Archbishop Shevchuk during his time in Buenos Aires.

Appeal for Captured Priests Additionally, the Ukrainian bishops requested prayers for the release of Father Ivan Levytskyi and Father Bohdan Haleta, two Redemptorist priests who remain in captivity since their capture by Russian troops in late November 2022.

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