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In Love And In Truth – the Position of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and Head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Document was signed during the meeting of the Council of Diocesan Bishops, on August 27, 2019, at Jasna Góra.

“Once again we want to express our sincere will to continue the dialogue and the desire for even deeper reconciliation between our Churches. We trust that our Churches will soon be able to proclaim the Polish Pope as the patron of our reconciliation.”

This is the view presented in the Position of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on the will to continue the dialogue and the desire for deeper reconciliation. The document was signed during the meeting of the Council of Diocesan Bishops, on August 27, 2019, at Jasna Góra.

“In Love And In Truth” was presented by the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, and the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk. They emphasize in it the great role that the Roman Catholic Church played in the work of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation: St. John Paul II, Cardinal Józef Glemp or Archbishop Józef Michalik, and on the part of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine – Cardinal Mirosław Lubaczowski and Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. “There would be no reconciliation without the wise and humble people of goodwill that were our great predecessors,” says the document.

Bishops also recall the words of forgiveness spoken by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar and John Paul II in 2001 during the papal pilgrimage to Ukraine. Card. Husar confessed then that in the last-century history of the Church in Ukraine “some sons and daughters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church did evil – unfortunately consciously and voluntarily – to their fellow men from their own nation and from other nations”. And on behalf of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, he asked for forgiveness God and all those who had been hurt in any way. He also added: “In order that a terrible past may not burden us and poison our lives, we are happy to forgive those who hurt us in any way”. The Polish Pope spoke about the purification of historical memory, thanks to which everyone will „be ready to put higher what unites than what divides, in order to build together a future based on mutual respect, brotherly community, brotherly cooperation, and authentic solidarity”.

Referring to these words, the President of the Polish Episcopate and the Head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine declared: We want to build our good future and take steps that will bring our communities closer together. Through prayer meetings, solemn celebrations of the Eucharist in the Roman and Byzantine-Ukrainian rites, pilgrimages to sanctuaries important for both Churches, training initiatives and symposia, we want to deepen our knowledge of our traditions and our history, especially among the younger generation”.

The bishops also expressed hope that St. John Paul II will be proclaimed the patron of Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. “We trust that our Churches will soon be able to proclaim – with the consent of the Holy See – the Polish Pope as the patron of our reconciliation, so that our Churches may have in his person an advocate before God in this sacred matter,” they wrote.

We publish the whole document:

„In Love And In Truth”

– the Position of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on the will to continue the dialogue and the desire for deeper reconciliation

Being aware of difficult moments in the history of relations between the Polish and Ukrainian nations and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland and the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, faithfully following the teaching of Christ the Lord and the example of our great predecessors – St. John Paul II, Cardinal Józef Glemp, Archbishop Józef Michalik as well as Cardinal Mirosław Lubaczowski and Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, standing before the throne of Our Lady of Jasna Góra – Queen of Poland, once again we want to express our sincere will to continue the dialogue and the desire for even deeper reconciliation between our Churches.

It was here, at Jasna Góra, in 1988 that the then Polish Primate welcomed the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who, together with bishops, clergy and faithful from Ukraine, came to the spiritual capital of Poland in order to participate in the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus. Today, too, we want to look at our history in the evangelical spirit, that is: in truth, in love and forgiveness, without which any dialogue is impossible.

There would be no reconciliation without the wise and humble people of goodwill that were our great predecessors. The pilgrimages of St. John Paul II to Poland and Ukraine were prophetic and providential, and the actions he undertook prepared our communities so that we could bear witness to Christian truth, love, and solidary cooperation. Their humble and respectful attitude, their courage to stand in truth, laid the foundations for reconciliation based not on unstable sentiments and a relative view of the past, but on truth and love.

Words spoken during the memorable pilgrimage of St. John Paul II to Ukraine in 2001 should become for us an example and a model of sincere dialogue. “It may seem strange, incomprehensible and inappropriate – said Cardinal Husar – that at the moment when the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is enjoying such great glory, we also recognize that in the last century history of our Church there were also dark and spiritually tragic moments. It happened that some sons and daughters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church did evil – unfortunately consciously and voluntarily – to their fellow men from their own nation and from other nations. In your presence, Holy Father, and on behalf of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, I would like to ask for forgiveness for all of them God, Creator, and Father of us all, and those whom we, the sons and daughters of this Church, have hurt in any way. In order that a terrible past may not burden us and poison our lives, we are happy to forgive those who hurt us in any way (…)”. “May forgiveness, granted and obtained – encouraged the Polish Pope – spill like a beneficial balm in every heart. May everyone, thanks to the purification of historical memory, be ready to put higher what unites than what divides, in order to build together a future based on mutual respect, brotherly community, brotherly cooperation, and authentic solidarity”.

Today, listening attentively to the voice of these great witnesses of hope, truth, love, and reconciliation, we want to build our good future and take steps that will bring our communities closer together. Through prayer meetings, solemn celebrations of the Eucharist in the Roman and Byzantine-Ukrainian rites, pilgrimages to sanctuaries important for both Churches, training initiatives and symposia, we want to deepen our knowledge of our traditions and our history, especially among the younger generation.

Believing in the communion of saints, we are convinced that St. John Paul II, who in the past successfully initiated the process of healing wounds and reconciliation, will continue to support it, interceding before God in the sacred matter of reconciliation. We want to seek to be led by St. John Paul II on the way to holiness and reconciliation while wanting to imitate him, we are ready to overcome all external difficulties, deeply hoping for his help and support.

We trust that our Churches will soon be able to proclaim – with the consent of the Holy See – the Polish Pope as the patron of our reconciliation, so that our Churches may have in his person an advocate before God in this sacred matter.

Let us entrust our communities to Our Lady of Jasna Góra. May she take all people of goodwill in Poland and Ukraine under the mantel of her maternal protection and lead us to her Son Jesus Christ.

+ Stanisław Gądecki

Archbishop of Poznań

President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Vice-President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conference (CCEE)

 

+ Sviatoslav Shevchuk

Major Archbishop

Metropolitan of Kyiv-Halyc

Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

The Position was adopted during the Council of Diocesan Bishops at Jasna Góra on August 27, 2019

About Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

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