How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

March 8, 2016

To His Beatitude
Sviatoslav Shevchuk
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36[35]:8).

As people of faith we take refuge under the protective “wings” of the Lord, because while we are, indeed, carriers of divine grace, we are so as vessels of clay (see 2 Corinthians 4:7). In some circumstances, our human condition is made even more fragile due to difficult historical situations, which leave their mark on the life of the People of God, of the Community, which Jesus Christ our Lord acquired with His Blood.

The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in these days is commemorating the sad events of March 1946. Seventy years ago, the ideological and political context, as well as ideas opposed to the very existence of your Church, led to the organization of a pseudo-synod in Lviv, causing decades of suffering for Pastors and the faithful.

In remembering these events, we bow our heads with profound gratitude before those who, also at the cost of tribulations and even of martyrdom, in the course of time had witnessed the faith lived with dedication in their own Church and in unfailing union with the Successor of Peter. Meanwhile, with eyes illuminated by the same faith, we look to our Lord, Jesus Christ, placing in Him, and not in human justice, our every hope. He is the true source of our confidence, for the present and for the future, we being sure of our calling to proclaim the Gospel, even in the midst of any suffering or difficulty.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. (…) In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:13-15).

Making mine the words of the Apostle Peter, I express my profound recognition for your fidelity and I encourage you to make yourselves tireless witnesses to that hope which makes more luminous our existence and that of all our brothers and sisters around us. I also renew my solidarity with the Pastors and faithful for all they do in this difficult time, marked by the tribulations of war, to alleviate the sufferings of the population and to seek the paths to peace for the beloved Ukrainian land.

Our courage and our joy is in the Lord. And it is to Him that I turn, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the martyrs of your Church, that divine consolation illuminate the faces of your communities in Ukraine and in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, from the heart I impart to You and to the Bishops, the priests, the religious and the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church a special Apostolic Blessing as a sign of my continued affection and remembrance.

From the Vatican, March 5, 2016

Francis

Unofficial translation from Italian original


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