The role and mission of Eastern Catholic Churches in the ecumenical journey, the peace in Ukraine and the situation of Christians in the Middle East. These themes were addressed in the final message adopted by 45 Eastern Catholic bishops of Europe. The message was released by CCEE at the end of their annual meeting held in Lviv (Ukraine), on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church on the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Archbishop Major of Kyiv-Halyè. Contribution for ecumenical dialogue. In their message the bishops dedicate an entire paragraph to “the Role of the Eastern Catholic Churches and their Contribution to the Ecumenical Journey”. “We reaffirm with greater awareness our right and duty to the pastoral care of our faithful wherever they are, including the right to proclaim the Gospel to those who do not know it yet”, state the Catholic prelates. Without probing into the heart of the matter the message addresses the delicate issue of ecumenical relations with Orthodox Churches few days after a critical intervention of Metropolitan Hilarion, representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow, during the Synod of the Family in Rome on the “problem of Uniatism which has grown worse as a result of the recent developments in Ukraine”. The bishops of Eastern Catholic Churches in Lviv express the “fraternal wish” that the Orthodox Churches “may carry out in love and truth the mission that God has entrusted to them” with the “same concern for the care of their own faithful throughout the world, without any antagonism, and in full respect of the right to freedom of religion”. In their message the bishops state that “the division of the one Church of Christ is an ecclesiological anomaly”. “We believe we are called to a strong commitment because the call for the unity of the Church of Christ is one of the necessary, priority, and irreversible dimensions of the identity of the Eastern Catholic Churches, in spite of the difficulties and hardships of the ecumenical journey”, the bishops point out. “The Eastern Catholic Churches want to be actively involved in the dialogue of charity and truth that the Catholic Church brings ahead with the Orthodox Churches”. Peace in Ukraine and in the Middle East. From Lviv the bishops responsible of Eastern Churches in Europe sent two appeals for peace. The first refers to “the plight of Christians living in the Middle East and other religious and ethnic minorities who are suffering because of the violence raging across the region”. They assure the “closeness and solidarity” of Churches in Europe to local pastors and to their faithful, with the reminder that “peace and reconciliation in the Middle East will not come excepti through a clear and decisive intervention of the international community on all the parties concerned, aimed in particular at promoting freedom of religion and consciousness, and through a strong investment in education to create new generations that are inclined to dialogue”. The bishops then appealed to reconciliation in Ukraine. We express to the whole Ukrainian people our prayer, closeness, and solidarity in the face of the continuing military conflict in the Eastern part of the country, along with the external aggression which causes so much suffering, especially among civilians. We invite everyone to take without delay the path of peace and reconciliation”. Participatns. The meeting promoted by the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) was attended by Msgr. Thomas Edward Gullickson, Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Msgr. Cyril Vasil’, Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Msgr. Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, Latin Archbishop of Lviv, and Fr Michel Remery, Deputy Secretary General of CCEE. During the meeting the participants visited the Ukrainian Catholic University and heard the direct testimony of some of the main characters of the “Dignity Revolution” that broke out a year ago in Maidan Square. The 2015 Meeting will take place in Prague (Czech Rep.) from 4 to 7 June at the invitation of Msgr. Ladislav Huèko, Apostolic Exarch for Catholics of Byzantine Rite in the Czech Republic.
Final meeting of the encounter with 45 bishops from Eastern Europe. The relationship with the Orthodox. Ukraine and the Middle East: invitation to peace