Pope's Address to Ukranian Greek-Catholic Pilgrims

A Divine Liturgy was held on Monday at the Altar of the Confession of the Vatican Basilica, in honor of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr, whose relicts were placed exactly fifty years ago under the altar of Saint Basil the Great. The Divine Liturgy was presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, together with the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk. Concelebrating were the Bishops of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, who are accompanying the pilgrimage made up of some 3,000 faithful from Ukraine and Byelorussia.

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Pope Francis arrived in the Basilica and gave the address to the pilgrims which we translate below.

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Dear Pilgrims from the Ukraine, (words in Ukrainian)

I gladly accepted the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, and of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, to join you in this pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr, on the fiftieth anniversary of the translation of his relics to this Vatican Basilica. I also receive with joy the delegation of Byzantines of Byelorussia.

On November 22, 1963, Pope Paul VI had Saint Josaphat’s body placed under the altar dedicated to Saint Basil the Great, near the tomb of Saint Peter. The holy Ukrainian martyr, in fact, chose to embrace the monastic life according to the Basilian Rule. And he did so totally, committing himself also to the reform of the Order to which he belonged, reform that led to the birth of the Basilian Order of Saint Josaphat. At the same time, first as a simple faithful, then as monk and finally as Archbishop, he employed all his strength for the union of the Church under the leadership of Peter, Prince of the Apostles.

Dear brothers and sisters, the memory of this holy martyr speaks to us of the Communion of Saints, of the communion of life among all those who belong to Christ. It is a reality that gives us a foretaste of eternal life, because an important aspect of eternal life consists in the joyful fraternity of all the Saints. “Each one will love the other as himself – teaches Saint Thomas Aquinas – and because of this will enjoy the good of the others as his own. Thus the joy of one will be that much greater the greater is the joy of all the other Blessed” (Conference on the Creed).

If the communion of the Church is such, every aspect of our Christian life can be animated by the desire to build together, to collaborate, to learn from one another, to witness the faith together. Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, who is the center of this path, accompanies us on this path. This desire of communion drives us to seek to understand the other, to respect him, and also to receive and offer fraternal correction.

Dear brothers and sisters, the best way to celebrate Saint Josaphat is to love one another and to serve the unity of the Church. We are supported in this also by the courageous witness of so many martyrs of recent times, who constitute a great richness and a great comfort for your Church.

I hope that the profound communion that you desire to deepen every day within the Catholic Church will help you build bridges of fraternity also with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the Ukrainian land and elsewhere, where your communities are present. With the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Josaphat, may the Lord accompany you always and bless you!


And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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