World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Pope John Paul II's Pilgrimage To Ukraine (2)

... transcripts from

2. Meeting with Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations
3. HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER - Divine Liturgy, Byzantine (Greek Catholic) Rite




Sunday, 24 June 2001

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I greet you and I embrace you all in the Lord! It is a great joy for me to meet you in your beloved land, to listen to you and to reflect with you upon the journey of communion and upon the promising work of evangelization being done in your communities. In the ten years since your country regained independence after the end of the Communist regime, your communities have organized themselves anew for the sake of more effective pastoral action, and they now look with hope to the future. I invoke upon them a new outpouring of grace from him who is – as the Servant of God Pope Paul VI said so tellingly – "the one who enlivens and sanctifies the Church, her divine breath, the wind in her sails, her principle of unity, her inner wellspring of light and strength, her support and consolation, the source of her gifts and songs, her peace and her joy, her pledge and prelude of blessed and eternal life" (General Audience, 29 November 1972, Insegnamenti X, pp. 1210-1211).

2. The joy of today’s meeting will grow still stronger in the days to come, when together we shall take part in the solemn beatification of some of your brother Bishops, who exercised their episcopal ministry in the most dangerous of circumstances. We will pay them the homage of our gratitude for having preserved intact, by their sacrifice, the heritage of Christian faith among the members of their Churches. In raising them to the honours of the altar, I wish to recall with gratitude other Pastors too who also paid dearly for their faithfulness to Christ and for their decision to remain in union with the Successor of Peter.

How can we fail to recall, among them, the Servant of God Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky? My revered predecessor, Pope Pius XII, declared that his noble life was cut short "not so much by his advanced age, but by the sufferings of his soul as Pastor, struck down with his flock" (AAS XLIV [1955], p. 877). Together with him, I recall Cardinal Joseph Slipyj, first Rector of the Greek Catholic Theological Academy of Lviv, happily reopened in recent times. This heroic confessor of the faith suffered the hardship of imprisonment for eighteen long years.

Among you there are still priests and Bishops who were imprisoned and persecuted. In embracing you with deep emotion, dear Brothers, I give praise to God for your faithful witness. It encourages me to accomplish my own service to the universal Church with ever more courageous dedication. I make my own the words which you say when you celebrate the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom: "We give ourselves, each of us, and our entire life to Christ, our God". This is what the martyrs and the confessors of the faith teach us. It is a lesson which we too must learn and live as Pastors of the flock which God has entrusted to us.

3. It is true that it is the task of the whole Church to preserve and pass on the heritage of faith. But it is the solemn duty of Pastors to be trustworthy guides, enlightened teachers and exemplary witnesses for the Christian people. This special responsibility of ours is referred to in the theme to be addressed by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church this year: "The person and responsibility of the Bishop". On this point, allow me in a spirit of fraternal service to offer you some personal reflections in today’s meeting, which brings together both Eastern and Latin Bishops.

First of all, in union with you, who have prime responsibility for your Churches, I wish to give thanks to God for the witness given by Catholics in this land, where the Church shows forth her divine and human reality, embellished by the genius of Ukrainian culture. Here the Church breathes with the two lungs of the Eastern and Western traditions. Here there is a fraternal meeting between those who draw from the sources of Byzantine spirituality and those who are nourished by Latin spirituality. Here the deep sense of mystery which suffuses the holy liturgy of the Eastern Churches and the mystical succinctness of the Latin Rite come face to face and mutually enrich each other.

Living as members of the one Church, yet respectful of different ritual traditions, you have a great opportunity to take part as it were in an important "ecclesial workshop" aimed at building unity in diversity. This is the best way to respond to the many and complex pastoral challenges of the present time. In this search, I invite you who are members of the Synod of Bishops of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church and you who are Bishops of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference to make your distinctive contributions in close and active cooperation. With one heart, proclaim the Gospel of Christ, overcoming every temptation to division and disagreement. Let the only "competition" between you, dear Brother Bishops, be in vying in esteem for one another (cf. Rom 12:10) and in striving for holiness.

Foster communion between yourselves and with your priests in a climate of affection, concern and respectful and fraternal dialogue. Success in the work of evangelization depends in large part upon the quality of these relationships.

4. In the last ten years, your Churches have known an extraordinary flourishing of vocations to the priestly and religious life. This calls for special care in the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of those called to the priesthood or the consecrated life. It is necessary first of all to ensure that future priests have a deep spirituality, a rigorous philosophical and theological preparation, and a solid introduction to pastoral life, anchored in the enduring values of the Catholic tradition but attentive to the signs of the times. An essential condition for achieving these goals is the presence in seminaries and houses of formation of first-rate educators and highly trained teachers, who can ensure a solid intellectual and spiritual foundation for the priests of tomorrow. The same care needs to be given to the formation of members of Institutes of consecrated life, especially Religious women.

Another fundamental task for your Churches is a comprehensive, competent and up-to-date catechesis of adults and young people. In this regard, you will find great help in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a providential means of presenting the Catholic faith in an ordered and complete way to those near and far. It should be remembered, however, that catechetical instruction is only one element in the much wider process of Christian initiation, which includes, alongside proclamation of the truths of the faith, education in personal and liturgical prayer, the experience of fraternal communion and training for service in the Church. Only an integral Christian formation can lead to the specific goal of catechesis, which "is to develop, with God’s help, an as yet initial faith, and to advance in fullness and to nourish day by day the Christian life of the faithful, young and old", so that the Lord’s disciples can learn "to think like him, to judge like him, to act in conformity with his commandments, and to hope as he invites us to" (Catechesi Tradendae, 20).

5. In recent years, which have been marked by rapid and profound social change in Ukraine as elsewhere, the family has been passing through a severe crisis, as we see in the large number of divorces and the widespread practice of abortion. Let the family therefore be one of your pastoral priorities. In particular, be concerned to lead Christian families to a powerful experience of God and to a full awareness of the Creator’s plan for marriage so that, renewing the spiritual fabric of their life together, they can help improve the quality of society as a whole.

Pastoral care of the young is linked to the evangelization of the family. The models of hedonistic and materialistic life often presented by the mass media, the crisis of values affecting the family, the illusion of an easy life without effort, the problems of unemployment and uncertainty about the future often create serious disorientation in young people, making them susceptible to ephemeral visions of life stripped of values or to worrying forms of escapism. Energy and resources must be invested in their human and Christian formation. In this regard, I was pleased to learn that you plan to establish an Institute of Social Sciences, which will provide a deeper understanding of the Church’s social teaching. This is an initiative which seems very timely, and I am therefore glad to offer my encouragement and blessing.

5. Venerable Brothers, before you there stretches an important time which will determine the "quality" of the Church’s presence in Ukraine in the next millennium. During the Communist persecution, relations between the Greek Catholic Church and the Latin Catholic Church were exemplary, and this provided the solid basis for the subsequent flourishing of the Church. Treasuring that experience, you must now continue to work together in order to carry out the demanding task of the new evangelization. May your Churches, as is already happening in various pastoral situations, be successful in finding structured forms of cooperation and mutual assistance in the field of catechesis, in Catholic centres of learning, in the mass media, and in the vast and complex sector of human development. In every circumstance, let Catholics be one in heart and open to dialogue and mutual solidarity.

The Synod of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church embraces many faithful in the diaspora, and this presents new pastoral challenges. To respond to these, it is again essential to be united. There must be effective unity, first of all among the Bishops and priests, in the light of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which invites Bishops to consider priests as "brothers and friends" (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7). Then this unity will go on to embrace consecrated men and women and committed lay people, for the spiritual welfare of the entire mystical Body of Christ.

6. This deep experience of communion within the Catholic Church will doubtless stimulate appropriate forms of fraternal cooperation with our Orthodox brethren, so that together we can respond to contemporary man’s quest for truth and joy, which Jesus Christ alone can fully satisfy. Ecumenical dialogue must therefore be an indispensable priority for believers and for the Churches in Ukraine. The division of Christians into different confessions represents one of the greatest challenges of our time. We have a long way to go to reach full reconciliation and visible communion among Christ’s disciples, but the experience of the past helps us to look to the future with confidence.

The thirst for unity has become more intense since the Second Vatican Council, and today awareness of the need for courageous understanding and closer cooperation is growing in all Christians. As the Successor of Peter, I encourage and exhort you today, dear Brother Bishops, to pursue this path and I assure you of the Holy See’s support for your generous efforts. The Pope is with you in your daily task of serving the faithful and his prayer accompanies you. With these heartfelt sentiments, I entrust you, your Churches, and the plans and hopes of the People of God in Ukraine to the Mother of God in heaven, and I cordially impart my blessing.




Meeting with Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council
of Churches and Religious Organizations

Sunday 24 June 2001
Kyiv (National Philharmonic)

Illustrious Representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council
of Churches and Religious Organizations

1. I am very grateful to those who have made possible today’s meeting, which gives me the opportunity in the course of my visit to know more familiarly the representatives of the different Churches and Religious Organizations present in Ukraine. I extend cordial and respectful greetings to all of you. I express my heartfelt appreciation of the Pan-Ukrainian Council’s service to the safeguarding and promotion of spiritual and religious values, which are indispensable for the building of a genuinely free and democratic society. Your excellent Organization contributes in no small measure to creating the conditions for an ever greater understanding between the members of the different Churches and Religious Organizations, in a spirit of mutual respect and in the constant search for a sincere and fruitful dialogue. I must also mention your praiseworthy efforts in favour of peace between individuals and between peoples.

2. Your existence and your daily endeavours testify in a concrete way to the fact that the religious element is an essential part of the personal identity of everyone, no matter the race, people or culture to which they belong. Religion, when practised with a humble and sincere heart, makes a specific and irreplaceable contribution to the promotion of a just and fraternal society.

How could a State that wishes to be really democratic fail to have full respect for the religious freedom of its citizens? There is no true democracy where one of the fundamental freedoms of the person is trampled on. During the long and sorrowful period of dictatorships, Ukraine too experienced the devastating effects of atheistic oppression which represses man and subjects him to a regime of slavery. Now you face the urgent challenge of rebuilding the social and moral fabric of the nation. Through your activities you are called to make an essential contribution to this work of social renewal, by showing that only in a climate of respect for religious freedom is it possible to build a society which is fully human.

3. In the first place I greet you, dear Brothers united by common faith in Christ who died and rose again. The violent Communist persecution did not succeed in eliminating the yearning for Christ and his Gospel from the spirit of the Ukrainian people, because this faith is part of its history and its very life. In fact, in speaking of religious freedom in this land of yours, our thoughts go back spontaneously to the glorious beginnings of Christianity, which for over a thousand years has marked its cultural and social identity. It was with the baptism of Prince Volodymyr and the people of Rus’ in the year 988 that the presence of the faith and Christian life began on the banks of the Dnieper. From here the Gospel then reached the different peoples living in the Eastern part of the European continent. I recalled this fact in my Apostolic Letter Euntes in Mundum, on the occasion of the Millennium of the Baptism of the Rus’ of Kyiv, and I emphasized how this event led to a great missionary expansion: "towards the West as far as the Carpathians, from the southern banks of the Dnieper as far as Novgorod and from the northern banks of the Volga ... as far as the shores of the Pacific Ocean and beyond" (No. 4; cf. also the Message Magnum Baptismi Donum, 1).

At a time when there was still full communion between Rome and Constantinople, Saint Volodymyr, preceded by the example of Princess Olga, dedicated himself to safeguarding the spiritual identity of the people, and at the same time to fostering the insertion of Rus’ within the totality of the other Churches. The process of inculturation of the faith, which has marked the history of these peoples down to today, was carried out through the untiring work of the missionaries who came from Constantinople.

4. Ukraine, land blessed by God, Christianity is an inseparable part of your civil, cultural and religious identity! You have fulfilled and continue to fulfil an important mission within the great family of Slav peoples and in Eastern Europe. Draw from the common Christian roots the living sap which will continue to flow through the branches of your ecclesial communities in the third millennium.

Christians of Ukraine, may God help you to look back together to the noble origins of your nation. May he help you to rediscover together the solid grounds for a respectful and courageous ecumenical journey, a journey of coming closer and of mutual understanding, favoured by good will on the part of everyone. May the day of restored communion among all the disciples of Christ come soon, that communion for which the Lord ardently prayed before his return to the Father (cf. Jn 17:20-21).

5. I now greet you, the Representatives of the other Religions and Religious Organizations, who work in close cooperation with Christians in Ukraine. This is a typical quality of your land which, on account of its particular position and make-up, is a natural bridge not only between East and West, but also between the peoples who have been here together for several centuries. These are people who differ as regards historical origin, cultural tradition and religious belief. I wish to recall the significant presence of the Jews, who form a community which is solidly rooted in Ukrainian society and culture. They too suffered injustices and persecutions for having remained faithful to the religion of their ancestors. Who can ever forget the immense tribute of blood which they paid to the fanaticism of an ideology propounding the superiority of one race over others? Here, in Kyiv, at Babyn Yar, during the Nazi occupation countless people, including over 100,000 Jews, were killed within a few days. This is one of the most atrocious of the many crimes which the history of the last century unhappily has had to record.

May the memory of this episode of murderous frenzy be a salutary warning to all. What atrocities is man capable of, when he fools himself into thinking that he can do without God! The desire to set himself up in opposition to God and to combat every form of religion showed itself in an overbearing way also in atheistic and Communist totalitarianism. In this city, this memory lives on in the monuments to the victims of Holodomar, to those killed at Bykivnia, to those who died in the Afghanistan war, to mention but a few. May the memory of such painful experiences help humanity today, especially the younger generation, to reject every form of violence and to grow in respect for human dignity, by safeguarding the fundamental rights rooted in it, not least the right to religious freedom.

6. To the memory of the massacre of the Jews, I wish to add that of the crimes committed by the political power against the Muslim community in Ukraine. I am thinking in particular of the Tartars deported from the Crimea to the Asiatic Republics of the Soviet Union, who now wish to return to their land of origin. In this regard, allow me to express the hope that through open, patient and persevering dialogue suitable solutions will be found, always in a climate of sincere tolerance and practical cooperation for the common good.

In this patient work of protecting man and the true good of society, believers have a particular role to play. Together they can give clear witness to the priority of the spirit with respect to material things, however necessary. Together they can bear witness that a vision of the world founded on God is the guarantee also of the inalienable value of the human person. If God is removed from the world, nothing truly human remains. By not looking to heaven, the creature loses sight of the goal of his journey on earth. At the root of every authentic humanism there is always the humble and trusting acknowledgement of the primacy of God.

7. Dear Friends! Allow me to greet you in this way at the end of this family gathering. For all of you, for your Churches and Religious Organizations in Ukraine, I express once more my esteem and affection. Your mission at this historic beginning of the millennium is a great one. Continue without ceasing in your common search for an increased sharing of the values of religion lived in freedom and of tolerance lived in justice. This is the most significant contribution that you can make to the overall progress of Ukrainian society.

The Bishop of Rome, who during these days has become a pilgrim of hope to Kyiv and Lviv, embraces the faithful of every city and village of the beloved Ukrainian land. He assures you and everyone of a remembrance in his prayers, that the Almighty may shower you with his graces. May God, the tender and merciful Father, bless you who are present here, your Churches and Religious Organizations. May he bless and protect the beloved Ukrainian people. Today and for ever!




Divine Liturgy, Byzantine (Greek Catholic) Rite

Monday, 25 June 2001
Kyiv, Chayka Airport

1. "As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, so may they be in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me" (cf. Jn 17:21).

The passage from the Gospel of Saint John just proclaimed takes us back in mind and heart to the Upper Room, the place of the Last Supper, where Jesus, before his Passion, prays to the Father for his Apostles. He has just entrusted to them the Holy Eucharist and made them ministers of the New Covenant, with the task now of continuing his mission for the salvation of the world.

In the Saviour’s words there appears the consuming desire to rescue humanity from the spirit and mind-set of the world. At the same time there emerges his conviction that salvation passes through that "being one" which, patterned after the life of the Trinity, must characterize the daily experience and decisions of all his disciples.

2. "Ut unum sint — That they may all be one!" (Jn 17:21). The Upper Room is the place of unity that is born of love. It is the place of mission: "so that the world may believe!" (ibid.). There is no authentic evangelization without full fraternal communion.

For this reason, in the evening of the first day after the Sabbath, showing himself in the Upper Room to his disciples, the Risen Lord reconfirms the close connection between mission and communion as he tells them: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21), and he adds: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:22-23).

And it is also in the Upper Room, on the day of Pentecost, that the disciples together with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, receive the Holy Spirit, who was manifested in this way: "A sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them" (Acts 2:2-3). From the gift of the Risen Christ is born the new humanity, the Church, in which communion overcomes the divisions and dispersion generated by the spirit of the world and symbolized in the biblical account of the Tower of Babel: "each one heard them speaking in his own language" (Acts 2:6). Having been made one by the power of the Paraclete, the disciples become instruments of dialogue and peace, and they set in motion the mission of evangelizing the nations.

3. "That they may all be one". This is the mystery of the Church willed by Christ. Unity founded on revealed Truth and on Love does not nullify man, his culture or his history; rather it makes him part of the communion of the Trinity, in which everything authentically human is enriched and strengthened.

This is a mystery that is well represented also in this Liturgy, concelebrated by Catholic Bishops and priests of the Eastern and Latin traditions. In the new humanity, born from the Father’s heart, and having Christ as its head, and living through the gift of the Spirit, there is a plurality of traditions, rites, canonical disciplines which, far from undermining the unity of the Body of Christ, on the contrary enrich it with the gifts brought by each one. In this, the miracle of Pentecost is continuously repeated: people of different languages, traditions, and cultures feel united in the profession of the one faith within the one communion that is born from on high.

With these sentiments, I greet all here present. I greet especially Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, and Archbishop Marian Jaworski, Metropolitan of Lviv of the Latins, and the Bishops of the respective rites, the priests and the faithful. I greet every representative of the Ecclesial Community which shows forth its array of riches in a unique way in this Land, where the traditions of East and West meet. Your living side by side in charity should become a model of a unity that exists within a legitimate pluralism and has its guarantee in the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter.

4. Since the beginning, in effect, your Church has benefited from different cultural relationships and from a Christian witness coming from various sources. According to tradition, at the dawn of Christianity it was the Apostle Andrew himself who, visiting the places where we are gathered today, spoke of the holiness found here. In fact, it is told that, as he contemplated the cliffs of the Dnieper, he blessed the land of Kyiv and said: "On these mountains will shine the glory of God". Thus he foretold the conversion to the Christian faith of the Great Prince of Kyiv, the holy baptizer Volodymyr, thanks to whom the Dnieper became as it were the "Jordan of the Ukraine", and the capital Kyiv a "new Jerusalem", the mother of Slav Christianity in Eastern Europe.

What testimonies to holiness have followed one upon another in your Land since the day of its Baptism! Standing out at the beginning are the martyrs of Kyiv, Prince Boris and Prince Hlib, whom you call "bearers of passion", who accepted martyrdom at the hand of their brother without taking arms against him. It is they who formed the spiritual features of the Church of Kyiv, where martyrdom in the name of brotherly love, in the name of Christian unity, showed itself to be a truly universal charism. The history of the recent past has also amply confirmed this.

5. "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call" (Eph 4:4). Are not the stories of the martyrs of your Church a fulfilment of the words of the Apostle Paul just proclaimed in the reading of the Epistle? He said to the Christians of Ephesus: "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:1-3).

Your re-won independence has opened a new and promising period which commits your country’s citizens, as Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytskyi liked to recall, to the goal of "rebuilding their own home", Ukraine. For ten years your Country has been a free and independent State. These ten years have shown that, despite the temptations linked to crime and corruption, its spiritual roots are strong. My heartfelt hope is that Ukraine will continue to draw strength from the ideals of personal, social and ecclesial morality, of service of the common good, of honesty and sacrifice, not forgetting the gift of the Ten Commandments. The dynamic quality of your country’s faith and its Church’s capacity for rebirth are surprising: the roots of its past have become a pledge of hope for the future.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! The Lord’s power which has sustained your Country is a gentle power, a power which relies on human support. It works through your fidelity and your generosity in responding to Christ’s call.

At this particular moment, I wish to pay homage to those who have gone before you in the faith and who, despite the great trials endured, have preserved the Sacred Tradition. May their shining example encourage you to have no fear. Filled with the Spirit of Christ, be eager to build your future according to his plan of love.

6. As we recall your Land’s centuries-old fidelity to the Gospel, we are brought back today as if by instinct to the Upper Room and to the words spoken by Christ on the eve of his Passion.

The Church constantly returns to the Upper Room, where she was born and where her mission began. The Church needs to return there, where the Apostles, after the Lord’s Resurrection, were filled with the Holy Spirit, receiving the gift of tongues in order to proclaim in the midst of the peoples and nations of the world the great things done by God (cf. Acts 2:11).

Today we wish to return spiritually to the Upper Room in order to understand better the reasons for the unity and mission which have guided this far, on the banks of the Dnieper, the steps of the brave heralds of the Gospel, so that among the multitude of languages there would not be missing that of the inhabitants of Rus’.

"Ut unum sint!". We wish to join in the prayer of the Lord for the unity of his disciples. It is a heartfelt appeal for the unity of Christians. It is an unceasing prayer, which rises from hearts that are humble and ready to feel, think and work generously so that Christ’s desire may be fulfilled. From this Land, sanctified by the blood of whole hosts of martyrs, I raise with you my prayer to the Lord that all Christians may once again be "one", according to the desire of Jesus in the Upper Room. May the Christians of the third millennium present themselves before the world with one heart and one soul!

I entrust this ardent yearning to Jesus’ Mother, who from the beginning has been praying with the Church and for the Church. May she, as in the Upper Room, sustain us through her intercession. May she guide us on the path of reconciliation and unity, so that in every part of the earth Christians will finally be able to proclaim together Christ and his message of salvation to the men and women of the new millennium.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: UN Censures ‘heinous Attacks’ In Lake Chad Basin

Conflict over many years has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in north-east Cameroon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe The Secretary-General strongly condemned “heinous attacks” against civilians in the Lake Chad Basin, a UN spokesperson ... More>>

South Africa: COVID-19 Pandemic Raises The Urgency Of Structural Reforms

South Africa responded swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sharp drop in activity adds to long-standing challenges and raises the urgency of structural reforms, according to a new OECD report released today. In the latest Economic Survey of South Africa ... More>>

United Nations: ‘Immediate Humanitarian Assistance’ To Support Beirut

The response to Tuesday’s explosion in Beirut requires global support in order to “surmount the devastating impact” of the crisis facing the Lebanese people, the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for the country said on Thursday. More>>

UN Experts: Turkey Should Preserve Hagia Sophia As Space For Meeting Of Cultures

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul should be maintained as an inter-cultural space reflecting the diversity and complexity of Turkey and its history, and preserving the outstanding universal value which resulted in its World Heritage Status, say two UN human rights ... More>>