Ukraine: Shevchuk, “we have invited the Pope to Ukraine”. His answer: “I will consider it”. “No shadows” about audience with Putin

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“We will be waiting for you in Ukraine”. “I will consider it!”. These are, respectively, the invitation of the head and father of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, and the Holy Father’s response regarding a possible apostolic visit to the country. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, revealed that as he spoke at a press conference held at the headquarters of Vatican Radio today, at the conclusion of the meeting convened, by Pope Francis, in Rome on 5-6 July 2019, with the Major Archbishop, the members of the Permanent Synod, and the Metropolitans of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. “We have formally invited him on the first day of our meeting”, Archbishop Shevchuk announced: “It would be a very eloquent and symbolic opportunity to end the war”, he added, and “it is not just Catholics who say that”. “If the Holy Father sets foot in Ukraine, the war will end”, the Archbishop said: “Perhaps Mr Putin himself – he dared to say speaking about the Russian President – will understand this gesture. It depends on him, and we hope it will happen”. His Beatitude Shevchuk called the event that has just ended in the Vatican “a meeting explicitly called for by the Holy Father to support our Church, reiterate his closeness to our Church and, with it, his closeness all the people who suffer because of the war”. “The Pope wants our Church and other Eastern Churches to develop and flourish”, the archbishop continued, calling the meeting on 5-6 July an example of Pope Francis’ “synodal method” in three stages – listening, reflecting, acting”. The meeting was held in a climate of “listening and reflection: the Holy Father wanted to listen, to talk heart to heart”. “We are encouraged by the opportunity to be listened to by the Pope in person”, Archbishop Shevchuk stated: “A new methodology has been put in place by the Apostolic See, and the Pope wants it to be extended to all other Eastern Churches, that it may become a new constant practice, not just for us, but for all”. Answering questions from journalists about the fact that the meeting with the Pope took place the day after the audience granted to President Putin, Archbishop Shevchuk replied: “There were no shadows, on the contrary, he let us have the final say. Our meeting, after all, had been announced before”.

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