Ukrainian Major Archbishop responds to government threat

2014-01-14 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, responded on Monday to a letter from the government threatening to rescind the legal status of the UGCC. The government’s threat appears to be an attempt to pressure the Church because of its pastoral support of Ukrainians taking part in protests against the government.

In a press conference, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav said that the Church is not directly involved in the political process. He insisted, though, that it cannot stand aside when its faithful ask for spiritual care. To be with his faithful is the duty of the priest, a duty connected with the very mission of the Church. “Our church has always been true to this mission that Christ entrusted to our Church” the Major Archbishop said, “and will remain so for the future and despite any threats.”

Pope Francis has expressed his prayerful support for the Ukrainian people. In a letter dated 23 December, Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin assured the “beloved Ukrainian people” of the Holy Father’s “prayers for peace and harmony.”