VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A year after his visit to Ukraine, John Paul II sent a letter to encourage the new evangelization promoted by Eastern-rite Catholics there.
The letter was received by the assembly of the Greek Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is meeting from June 30 to July 6 with the theme: “Christ, Source of the Renaissance of the Ukrainian People.”
In the message, sent to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, the Pope expressed the hope that the work of the assembly will “help to instill in the faithful a renewed value to bear testimony to the message of salvation.”
John Paul II visited this country of 48 million inhabitants (6 million of whom are Catholics, mostly of the Eastern rite), from June 23-27, 2001.
The papal letter refers to “the long years of atheism when Christian values, which characterized the history of the Ukrainian people and left a mark in their spirit and behavior, were suppressed.”
Now “the Greek Ukrainian Catholic Church wishes to intensify the work of re-evangelization undertaken in these years,” the Holy Father added.
“Every ecclesial community is called to proclaim and bear witness to the dignity of man, and to the exercise of power, not as dominion but as service,” the Pope said.
Referring to the “misunderstanding and divisions” that have occurred in the history of the Church in Ukraine, John Paul II gave Ukrainian Catholics two instructions.
First, “it is necessary to intensify the efforts of understanding and communion above all among Catholics of both rites.” Second, it is “important to increase the effort of reconciliation with other Christians, in particular with our Orthodox brothers and sisters,” who are in the majority in the Ukraine.
“Greek Ukrainian Catholic Church, a rich future of hope is before you,” the Pope exclaimed. “Be not afraid!”
For his part, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, wrote a message to Cardinal Husar on the occasion of the inauguration of a University of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine. Last June, John Paul II laid the first stone of this institution.
Cardinal Sodano wrote: “Enriched by the two traditions, Eastern and Western, the new University should become the scene of fruitful collaboration between the two great schools that have molded the thought and practice of Ukrainian Catholics for the benefit of the ecclesial community and of civil society.”