Updated: Sep 25, 2019
The following are excerpts from an article on Pope Francis' meeting with Patriarch Sviatoslav, the original of which can be found here.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav has told the Pope that the road travelled by the UGCC was a path of martyrdom, a “testimony of the unity that Christ’s Church enjoyed in the First Millennium, at the time of the Baptism of Saint Volodymyr, and a particular witness of martyrs and confessors for Church unity, – in the 20th century.” “Our Church’s path of martyrdom consists in a recognition of the particular mission of the Successors of the Apostle Peter as visible servants of the unity of Christ’s Church,” the Head of the UGCC declared in his conversation with the Holy Father.
His Beatitude drew particular attention to the UGCC’s relations with those other Churches that were heirs to the Baptism by Saint Volodymyr. He told to the Holy Father that it is a painful reality that the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine are divided. He also recounted several “shameful incidents where the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), in particular, the Mystery of Holy Baptism, had been used to humiliate or deny the Christian identity of faithful belonging to certain denominations.”
Pope Francis, for his part, thanked the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church for its martyrdom “as a confession of the Christian Faith and a testimony that the Successor of Peter the Apostle has a special mission of service to Cristian unity.” He assured the UGCC of his support and expressed gratitude for its dynamic development and ecumenical openness.
The Holy Father agreed that any accusations of uniatism against the UGCC are absolutely without foundation. He also thanked the UGCC for its active participation in rebuilding Ukrainian society based on the principles of Catholic Social teaching doctrine, while not interfering in the political process. He thanked the Church for its promotion of authentic Christian patriotism which, under no circumstances, should be used or manipulated for particular ecclesiastical or ideological goals. Pope Francis placed great value on the fact that the UGCC had shunned nationalism, and that it condemned xenophobia and racism.
The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the Ukrainian nation which, as the victim of unjust aggression, is living through a painful period of its history. He assured His Beatitude that he constantly thinks and prays for Ukraine.