Eastern Catholic Bishops: Unity Is Priority, Irreversible Dimension of Churches' Identity

Affirm Commitment to Dialogue With Orthodox

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In Lviv, 45 Eastern Catholic bishops of Europe have been discussing the identity and mission of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the ecumenical movement and in European societies. The annual meeting of the bishops concluded with the prelates making a common declaration.

In particular, they speak of their relationship with the Orthodox Churches, affirming their commitment to work for Christian unity, as desired by Christ.

Here is the full text of the statement:

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Message of the Eastern Catholic Bishops

Lviv, Ukraine, October 26, 2014

We, bishops representing various sui iuris Churches in Europe, have gathered in Lviv (Ukraine) [from] October 23 through 26, 2014, to reflect and have a dialogue on the mission of the Eastern Catholic Churches fifty years after the promulgation of the Conciliar Decrees Orientalium Ecclesiarum and Unitatis redintegratio, and on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the legalization of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

At the end of our meeting, we would like to share some thoughts.

The Role of the Eastern Catholic Churches and their Contribution to the Ecumenical Journey.

On the basis of the Conciliar pronunciation that expressed the care of the Catholic Church for the Eastern Churches and invited them to flourish and with new apostolic vigour execute the task entrusted to them (see Orientalium Ecclesiarum 1) :

– We reaffirm with greater awareness our right and duty to the pastoral care of our faithful wherever they are, including the right to proclaim the Gospel to those who do not know it yet;

– We express our fraternal wish that also the Orthodox Churches may carry out in love and truth the mission that God has entrusted to them;

– We recognize to the Orthodox Churches the same concern for the care of their own faithful throughout the world, without any antagonism, and in full respect of the right to freedom of religion;

– We affirm that the division of the one Church of Christ is an ecclesiological anomaly which cannot be considered as a standard for the life and mission of the Church;

– We share with the Orthodox Churches the same concern for the cultural and social trends that are leading to a progressive de-Christianization and secularization of Europe;

– We believe we are called to a strong commitment because the call for the unity of the Church of Christ is one of the necessary, priority, and irreversible dimensions of the identity of the Eastern Catholic Churches, in spite of the difficulties and hardships of the ecumenical journey;

– We confirm that the Eastern Catholic Churches want to be actively involved in the dialogue of charity and truth that the Catholic Church brings ahead with the Orthodox Churches.

The Situation in the Middle East

The plight of Christians living in the Middle East and other religious and ethnic minorities who are suffering because of the violence raging across the region has been the subject of our reflection and prayer. While ensuring our support and solidarity to the local pastors and their faithful, we remind everyone that peace and reconciliation in the Middle East will not come except through a clear and decisive intervention of the international community on all the parties concerned, aimed in particular at promoting freedom of religion and consciousness, and through a strong investment in education to create new generations that are inclined to dialogue.

25th Anniversary of the Legalization of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

We came to Ukraine also to celebrate the 25thAnniversary of the Legalization of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. Its renaissance is an event of the Divine Providence which is now prompting the whole Church to careful discernment, a renewed missionary proclamation of the Gospel, and a greater commitment especially in the face of the new pastoral challenges brought about by the current situation in the country. We express to the whole Ukrainian people our prayer, closeness, and solidarity in the face of the continuing military conflict in the Eastern part of the country, along with the external aggression which causes so much suffering, especially among civilians. We invite everyone to take without delay the path of peace and reconciliation.

This anniversary was liturgically experienced by imploring God’s blessing and the protection of the Theotokos, Mother of God and Mother of the Church.

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