(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written a letter of thanks and gratitude to His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevhchuk, Major Archbishop of Kiev and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
The Archbishop, together with other members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church have been meeting in Rome and released a statement in which they affirmed communion with the Catholic Church. They were received in audience by the Pope on Saturday.
In his letter to Archbishop Shevhchuk, Pope Francis recalls that some seventy years ago, a particular ideological and political context, as well as the existence of “ideas that were contrary to the very existence of your Church, led to the organization of a pseudo-synod in Lviv, and caused decades of suffering for the pastors and the faithful”.
“In sad memory of these events, he writes, we bow our heads in deep gratitude before those, who at the cost of suffering and even martyrdom, continued to witness the faith in the course of time and to show dedication to the Church in union with the Successor of Peter”.
At the same time, Pope Francis continues, “with eyes lit by the same faith, we look to the Lord Jesus Christ, to place in him, and not in human justice, all of our hope”.
“He is the true source of our trust in the present and in the future, as we are called to announce the Gospel also in the midst of suffering or difficulties” he says.
And the Pope goes on to express deep gratitude for the loyalty of Ukrainian Greek-Catholics and encourages them to be “tireless witnesses of that hope which makes our existence and the existence of all of our brothers and sisters more luminous”.
Pope Francis also renewed his feelings of solidarity with the pastors and faithful for all they do in these difficult times “marked by the hardships of war, to alleviate the suffering of the population and to seek the ways of peace for the beloved Ukrainian land”.
“In the Lord, he concludes, is our courage and our joy. It is to Him that I speak, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the martyrs of your Church, so that the divine consolation may illuminate your communities in Ukraine and other parts of the world”.