UGCC Synod of Bishops 2019 – September 1- 10, 2019, Rome

Source: Development Office, UGCC Patriarchal Curia

Dear Benefactors and Partners,

As we have announced in our previous newsletter, the Development Office of the Patriarchal Curia is going to inform you about the most interesting events and initiatives that took place in the life of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in 2019.

Without doubt, one of the most important events of the year 2019 was the Synod of Bishops which took place from Sep. 1 till Sep.  10 in Rome to commemorate the 50th anniversary since the consecration of St. Sophia’s Cathedral, founded by the late Card. Josyf Slipyj. 39 Hierarchs from Ukraine, Central, Northern and Western Europe, Northern and Southern America and Australia came together under the leadership of the President of the Synod His Beatitude Sviatoslav to the Eternal City of Rome to express their unity with the successor of St. Peter and the Universal Church.  An awareness of the importance of fostering this unity, a search for the best ways to affirm and strengthen it was at the center of the Synodal deliberations.

Besides the members of the  Synod, some distinguished Church hierarchs from the Vatican and the Italian Bishops Conference paid a visit to the Pontifical Ukrainian College of St. Josaphat on Janiculum Hill where the Synodal sessions took place.  Among them: His Eminence Card. Pietro Parolin (Secretary of State), His Eminence Card. Guiltiero Bassetti (President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference), His Eminence Card. Angelo DeDonatis (Vicar  of  the Holy Father for the Diocese of Rome).

The highlight of the Synodal Assembly was an audience with the Holy Father Pope Francis on Sep. 2nd. His Beatitude Sviatoslav on behalf of the Synod of Bishops addressed the Holy Father with these words: “We came  here because we aspire to be a Synod” (Full text the Word of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Father and Head of the UGCC, at the beginning of the audience of Bishops of the UGCC Holy Synod with the Holy FatherFrancis:

The Pope of Rome shared with the Synodal Fathers his reflections on the synodality: “Today there is a danger to mistakenly believe that the Synodal way is gathering opinions in order  to meet and reach some understanding in the future. We need to discuss matters, to have disputes as it usually occurs, but it is not Parliament. The Synod does not mean to reach some kind of understanding, as in politics. The Synod does not mean to conduct sociological surveys, as some might believe, say, we will order a poll to the laity to find out what should change. You must know what your laity think, but the Synod is not a poll, it is something else.” The Pope stressed out that “if there is no Holy Spirit, there is no Synod. If there is no Holy Spirit, there is no synodality.”

The members of the Synod of Bishops thanked the Holy See for the support of our Church in Ukraine and in the diasora. Our faithful especially appreciate the contribution of the Pope of Rome and the Apostolic See in assisting to bring peace and humanitarian aid during the aggression and the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

The main theme of the Synod was: “COMMUNION AND UNITY IN THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF THE UKRAINIAN GREEK-CATHOLIC CHURCH”. In the presentation of the main theme, His Beatitude Sviatoslav pointed out to a very special nature of the UGCC which is a particular Church (for it carries out a millennial heritage of the Christian faith inculturated in the Ukrainian culture)   and, at the same time, a global Church (for it became a mother for members of other nations and cultures  all over the world).

This main theme is reflected in the Pastoral letter of the Synod of Bishops which can be read in its entirety in English language following this link:
With this letter the Synodal Fathers wished to stress out  the importance of the unity-communion with the Successor to Peter the Apostle as well as the internal unity and solidarity:
“Can the Edmonton Eparchy say to the Donetsk Exarchate: ‘I have no need of you!’? Can the Chernivtsi Eparchy say to the Curitiba Metropolia: ‘Your problems don’t concern me!’? Can the Melbourne Eparchy say to the Crimean Exarchate: ‘I don’t know you!’?” We could ask ourselves many such questions, each according to their own conscience. However, the response to each of them should be the same—an emphatic “No!”

The Synodal Letter highlights also the important task of the Head and Father of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church who is both symbol and servant of her global unity, communion, and development:
“The Head of our Church is given the particular task of pastoral care over all the faithful of our Church, especially over those who reside outside its pastoral structures.”

For the first time in the UGCC history, the Synod of Bishops has issued  an important document regarding safeguarding from various incidents of violence toward children, handicapped, and vulnerable people which can be found in the attachment. The Synod announced a strengthening of measures to prevent sexual violence in the Church and expressed readiness to listen and provide spiritual support to all. The Synodal Pastoral letter, in fact, states: “With this synodal message, we affirm the desire of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church throughout the world to progress to the next stage of understanding, healing, and preventing all forms of violence against human dignity in the church environment and in the community at large, “working not for the sake of appearances, to please men, but as Christ’s servants, who fulfill the will of God from the heart.” (Eph. 6:6).”
A full list of the Decisions of the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church 2019 can be found following the link below:

The next Synod of Bishops of the UGCC will be held in Lviv in September 2020 with the central theme: “Emigration, Settlements and Global Unity of the UGCC”

United in prayers,
Development Office of the UGCC Patriarchal Curia

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