30 years ago, Pope restored the structures of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine - communique of the bishops
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Dear fathers and consecrated persons, Beloved brothers and sisters!
Thirty years ago, on January 16, 1991, St. John Paul II restored the bodies of the Catholic Church in Ukraine. This event drew the whole world's attention to a group of brave people: priests, underground monks and nuns, and a large group of laypeople who participated in pastoral work during the communist persecution of the Church and faith and cared about the fate of the Church.
They were a sign of truth, justice, peace, and the righteousness of life. It was they who preserved the deposit of faith, on which the community of the church could be rebuilt.
The decision that the made Pope thirty years ago was a tribute to their heroic testimony in defense of the faith and the Church. Today, as a free community of the Church, we are paying tribute to them, bowing our heads before the testimony of their faith, realizing that they have become the foundation and cornerstone on which we have been building the modern life of the Church for thirty years. Therefore, we must be aware of the responsibility that rests on our shoulders, so as not to lose the dedication of their lives and self-sacrifice. This is our past and our identity. This is our yesterday, without which there would be no present or future. We are building the community of the Church on a solid foundation of martyrdom and sacrifice of such a large community of witnesses of the faith. Therefore, we cannot lose this inheritance, because then God could forget about us and turn away his merciful face.
A bold decision of John Paul II, whose 30th anniversary we are celebrating, is not only an administrative initiative. The revival of the Church is deeply theological in nature and means that the Mystical Body of Christ restores the permanent function of instruments of grace that bring salvation. For the church community to function, the Pope restored the Metropolia of Lviv, appointing Cardinal Maryan Yavorsky, who died last year, as well as two dioceses: of Kamianets-Podilsky and Kyiv-Zhytomyr, appointing bishops for them. The Diocese of Kamianets-Podilsky was entrusted to Bishop Jan Olshansky of the blessed memory, and the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr was entrusted to Bishop Jan Purvinsky. The Lviv Archdiocese also received two auxiliary bishops – father Rafal Kernitsky and Markian Trofimyak. They had a great responsibility for the fate of the Church in Ukraine. Today, we thank them for living up to their expectations and for their devotional service.
St. John Paul II opened up the path of priest's and monastic vocation to many people. The bishops formed higher theological seminaries in their dioceses in Lviv, the town of Podolsk and Vorzel to educate new priests. To this day, they are a valuable gift to the Church, ensuring the continuity of priestly service. In the renovated Church, priests from Poland and numerous orders, both men's and women's and congregations who returned to the territory of their ancient ministry also found their place.
The Church developed and needed the formation of new dioceses, so later dioceses rose in Lutsk, Kharkiv, Odessa and Transcarpathia in Mukachevo.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I recall this historical moment to clarify to all of us what the path to freedom was like. A generation has grown up that does not remember those times, which does not mean that it should not know about them and underestimate in its dioceses those who will always remain in grateful memory.
It was reiterated by St. John Paul II during his pilgrimage to Ukraine when he said: "I want to pay tribute to all of you, dear priests, monks and nuns, who were faithful to this God's people. But to you, who are now standing beside these selfless ministers of the Gospel and strive to continue their mission, I say: do not be afraid. Christ does not promise an easy life, but he will always help you." And before leaving for Rome, at the Lviv airport, he added: "I ask the mighty and just God for all the blessings for the children of this land, a land where blood was spilled hundreds of times, a land covered with glory."
May the path of faith restored thirty years ago forever remain blessed by God's power and sanctified by the testimony of our lives so that the Church in Ukraine can be the fulfillment of the words of Jesus: "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jh 8: 12).
Lviv, January 16, 2021
+ Mieczyslaw Mokrzytsky
Metropolitan of Lviv,
Deputy Chairmen of the Conference of Bishops
of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine