UGCC Will Have Churches in the Holy Land
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, on April 5 met in Haifa with Archbishop Elias Chacour of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The hierarchs discussed possibilities of an increase of UGCC presence in Israel.
According to the Information Department of UGCC, Patriarch Shevchuk thanked Archishop Chacour for his visit to Kyiv last year. He stressed that the visit of the UGCC delegation “is a sign of respect and support.”
“Another reason for our visit is that our church will celebrate the 1025th anniversary of Baptism. Therefore, it is an important gesture to visit the Church of Jerusalem before such an event. The third reason is to meet with our faithful and assure them of our care,” said the Primate.
According to the senior priest of the church in Haifa, Fr. Rastislav Dvorovy, there are 7 thousand faithful of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church according to official information and twice as many according to unofficial sources. There is also southern Israel. According to him, they are mostly itinerary workers. If not provided with care, they usually go to Protestants. Therefore, it is important to have priests speaking at least one of the Slavic languages.
Having heard all the proposals as to an increase of UGCC presence in Israel, Archbishop Chacour stressed that he can provide as many church buildings as necessary to ensure that Ukrainian Greek Catholics have places to pray. However, Fr. Dvorovy noted that the issue of the lack of priests is more urgent than the question of church buildings in the Holy Land. Services for Ukrainian Greek Catholics are currently conducted only twice a week in Haifa and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Therefore, one should expect that the UGCC will now work on increasing the presence of its priests in the Holy Land.
The head of UGCC and Archbishop Chacour signed an agreement as a result of the meeting.