Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus

Ukraine: committee "Reconciliation between Nations"Representatives of Ukrainian churches and artists set up a public committee "Reconciliation between Nations", which on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Volyn tragedy calls on Ukrainians and Poles to "forgive and give up revenge and accusations in regard to these pages of history". A press conference on this matter was held in Kyiv on 3 april, with participation of former president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk, patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate, and major archbishop emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, cardinal Lubomyr Husar. "Representatives of the traditional Churches, well-known public figures and artists have united in the public Committee Reconciliation between Nations in order to jointly promote understanding between Ukrainians and other in regard to issues of interpretation of complicated pages of our common history", stated the participants. According to patriarch Filaret, memorial and prayer services for the victims will be served. He expressed hope that a similar committee will be set up in Poland, possibility to hold a joint meeting and work out decisions to help relieve the tension in the two societies regarding the conflict of WWII. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar added that the Church will pray also for the contemporaries: "For people to be prepared to understand the need of forgiveness. We invite Ukrainians and Poles to forgive and ask for forgiveness and to be willing to do their best to prevent such tragedies in future so that the two nations can meditate and live in peace".Slovakia: outcomes of Lenten prayer chainAbout 1840 people aged 6-83 years registered for the fourth edition of an on-line Lenten prayer initiative in Slovakia this year, according to the statistics published last week by the Press Office of the Bishops’ conference. The project initiated by the group of young people from Zilina region lasted 40 days. Special website www.40dni.sk offered various articles, reflections over the Holy Scripture, testimonies, quizes and tasks for every day, as well as information about lives of the saints. Participants had an opportunity to ask questions and take part in contests and lenten activities. "We hope that the message of this internet site has brought its fruit to people in spiritual need and its experience will guide them not only during the Easter", say the organizers, promising that the next year’s edition of the campaign will bring new impulses for the renewal of faith. Czech republic: trilogy of reflections by priestsThe priests of the diocese of Hradec Králové in Czech republic participate at the project run on the occasion of the Year of Faith. Recently they have finished the last part of a unique trilogy "Advent, Lenten, Easter", offering fifty meditations over the Gospel texts written by fifty priests of the diocese. Bishop of Hradec Králové, Mons. Jan Vokál, expressed his satisfaction the success of the project and high level of interest of the faithful. "I want to share my sincere joy over the fact that the priests of our diocese testify to the Year of Faith with the third brochure of meditations", affirms Mons. Vokál, adding that the meditations are accompanied with quotations from the documents of II Vatican Council.Belarus: relics of John Paul II in MinskThe Catholic faithful of Minsk commemorated the 8th anniversary of death of blessed John Paul II by venerating his relics recently brought to the Cathedral of St. Simon and Helen and preserved in a side altar. The relics have been presented to the representatives of the Church in Belarus by cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and the eucharistic celebration on the occasion was presided over by archbishop metropolitan of Minsk-Mogilev, Mons. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, along with apostolic visitator for Greek Catholics in Belarus, archimandrite Sergey Gaek on 2 April. "Year 1978. Grave persecution of the faithful expands in Belarus and whole Soviet Union. It is said that with death of the last priest, the Catholic Church will stop existing. And here it comes – an unexpected message from distant Rome arrives – cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow becomes a new pope", recalls the archbishop. According to Mons. Kondrusiewicz, it was this Holy Father who "established the official structures of the Catholic Church in Belarus after three generations of atheism". "He wanted to visit our country but unfortunately it’s never happened. However, nobody can stop him from being here with us today", added the hierarch, expressing hope that the relics of the great pope will preserve the memory of his teaching and example of his service to the Catholic Church in people’s hearts.

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