As the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church concludes its Holy Synod, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk expresses his gratitude for Pope Francis’ closeness to the people of Ukraine and reflects on the Church’s pastoral care of people wounded in war.
By Sr. Nina Benedikta Krapić, VMZ
The bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) concluded their annual Holy Synod on Thursday, which took place in Rome and included an audience with Pope Francis.
The UGCC Synod focused on the Church’s pastoral care for people wounded in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
On the sidelines of a press conference, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, spoke to Vatican News about the work of the Synod and about the support shown by the Pope for Ukraine.
Q: From the audience you had with Pope Francis, what is the most important for you?
The Holy Father is with us, and we manifested our Catholicity, our full and visible communion with the successor of Peter. And with that communion, with that good news, we are coming back home.
I admired the humility of Pope Francis. He was well aware of his own faults, his own not very clear expressions. And he corrected himself. To be able to correct yourself in the presence of your brother bishops – that is a sign of deep humility.
And among other things, he wished to listen to us, not only to myself, to the head of the Church, but he gave a possibility, an open floor, for each one of 45 bishops to speak out in behalf of the simple, wounded, disappointed people of Ukraine.
And this mutual dialogue, a capability to listen to, ministry of listening, was something which for us, wounded by the war, was a healing moment.
Q: What are your expectations from the visit of Cardinal Zuppi to China?
I have expectations, and wish that the visit will be a baby step toward an authentic, just and secure peace.
Q: The focus of the Synod was on the pastoral care for wounded people. What is exactly that you hope to do?
First of all, we are emphasizing on the formation of priests, religious and bishops as well, because we have to change our methods.
We have to understand better what is going on with the psychological and emotional part of the human being, but also spiritual one, to be more empathic with the people and to be more helpful to them. Because if you would simply say to a wounded soldier without legs in the hospital, I do understand you, you would be wrong.
And I think that the pastoral care of wounded people is a big challenge, especially for the pastoral activity of the Church.
Q: Your country is in the state of war. What is happening in Ukraine with the Church, and with lay people and consecrated people on the other hand?
Many things, but first of all in such a dramatic circumstances all of us Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews, Muslims, we learn how to discern what is the most important things for you right now today.
And I learned that for me most important things, which is a source of my personal resilience, is faith.
To be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, to believe in the grace of the Holy Spirit, to sanctify the holy name of the Holy Trinity among the atrocities of war. That is the source of the resilience and resistance of the people of Ukraine.