UGCC bishops address the faithful and clergy with a message during wartime

16.10.2023, 09:47
UGCC bishops address the faithful and clergy with a message during wartime - фото 1
The bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) have addressed the clergy, monastic orders, and the laity of the UGCC, along with all people of goodwill, with a post-synodal message titled "I Will Not Forsake You." Fathers-pastors have been entrusted with the task of reading this message after liturgies on Sunday, October 22, 2023.

This message was made public on October 11, following a synod that took place from September 3 to September 13 at the Pontifical College of Saint Josaphat in Rome.

"We, the bishops of the UGCC, have gathered from all corners of the world against the backdrop of a full-scale war that has persisted for 18 months—a criminal and deadly aggression by Russia against the independent state of Ukraine and its people. This people, with their unique history, culture, spiritual identity, and inherent gifts, have become the focal point of our discussion. We have chosen to name our assembly the 'Synod of Hope' because, despite the trials, suffering, and losses we have endured, we continue to sense the constant presence and nearness of God," begins the message.

The bishops of the UGCC attribute Ukraine's resilience and its ongoing struggle against the Russian aggressor to a divine miracle: "Truly, it is only because God did not forsake us in our time of trial that we withstood and repelled the enemy's assaults on our very existence and the foundations of human civilization. What our nation and its people endured in the face of far superior enemy forces, especially during the initial weeks of the full-scale invasion by Russian occupiers onto our soil, can only be aptly described as a 'miracle.' We use the term 'miracle' with utmost sincerity, as we rightfully consider our people as co-creators of this miracle. Ukrainians have become a testament to God's strength and presence during these challenging days and months of trial."

The UGCC bishops express their profound gratitude to the priests who stood by their congregations, sharing in their suffering, pain, worries, and fears. They emphasize the compelling message conveyed by the presence of priests among their people, labeling it as "the most persuasive form of Gospel preaching."

The message also conveys gratitude for the outpouring of assistance extended to the people of Ukraine during these trying times. The bishops acknowledge the solidarity and support received from millions of fellow believers and people of goodwill worldwide. They make special mention of the humanitarian aid sent to Ukraine and the countless prayers offered on behalf of the Ukrainian people. They also express their appreciation for the help provided to Ukrainian citizens in the form of shelter and safety from the looming threat of war.

The message places particular emphasis on those Ukrainians who refused to abandon their wounded and traumatized loved ones, friends, and acquaintances. It highlights the unwavering faithfulness of spouses to their partners, fiancées to their beloved, and families to their sons and daughters who returned from the front lines, often bearing visible and invisible wounds akin to the stigmata of the Lord—wounds inflicted by human sin and lawlessness. The bishops call upon everyone to reciprocate this faithfulness with gratitude, ensuring that they do not forget their defenders, just as these defenders did not forsake them or their homeland.

The UGCC bishops firmly believe that healing wounds and trauma is the foremost service that the Church must offer to its people in these tumultuous circumstances.

Furthermore, the bishops highlight the extraordinary efforts of the faithful, as well as the monastic and clergy communities in Ukraine and the diaspora, in their steadfast resistance against and triumph over the consequences of Russian aggression. In their words, "We did not stand apart from the grief and suffering of our compatriots. Through prayer, humanitarian support, psychological assistance, and often simply by being present alongside our people, we aimed to exemplify the motherly essence of the Church. The Church seeks to embrace all and enfold those in need with care, concern, and love, ensuring that everyone can find solace in the assurance that “Your Church is always with you!'"