Canadian Bishops Praise Papal Visit to Ukraine

Episcopal Message to Faithful

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OTTAWA, JUNE 26, 2001 ( The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed a message to the faithful describing the Holy Father´s visit to the cradle of Orthodoxy as «a great gift of grace and God´s Providence.

In the message, Bishop Gerald Wiesner of Prince George recalls that this is «the third Pope to set foot on Ukrainian territory,» but «the first to do so voluntarily, since during the first millennium, Popes Clement I and Martin I had gone to the Crimea in exile.»

«For the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which suffered and endured a catacomblike experience under Stalinist persecution, this is a moment of realization of the promise that our Lord would remain with us to the end of time,» the message states. «As a Church that is currently renewing its efforts of bringing anew the Gospel message in Ukraine and throughout the world, we wish to express our joy and hope on this most happy occasion.»

The Canadian bishops remind the faithful that the Holy Father´s pilgrimage to Ukraine «marks yet another particular moment in the journey towards the restoration of unity among all Christians, especially assisting in the reconciliation and unity between Catholics and Orthodox.»

The bishops «commend the members of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for their efforts to initiate dialogue with their Orthodox brothers and sisters, and encourage their ongoing commitment through prayer, word and action, to fullness of unity in Jesus Christ.»

The episcopal message reminds Canadians that many «people from Ukraine began to emigrate to Canada just over a century ago, bringing with them their language, customs and faith. At the urging of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, Ukrainian Catholics in Canada received their first eparch in the person of Nykyta Budka, a young pioneer bishop, who was enthroned in Winnipeg on the feast of the Conception of St. Anne (Immaculate Conception) in 1912.»

Under Bishop Budka´s leadership, «the Ukrainian Catholic Church became well established throughout Canada. We are happy to see in his beatification among the Ukrainian martyrs, the Church´s recognition of his sanctity and zeal for the Gospel.»

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