Translated by Fr Athanasius McVay
“The modern family in Ukraine is marked by difficulties of post-communist society, which undergoes rapid social and cultural emancipation”, said His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the UGCC, reporting today during the third general meeting of the Synod of Bishops.
“Next year the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church will mark the 70th anniversary of its forced liquidation by Stalin in the Soviet Union and forced amalgamation to the Russian Orthodox Church. From that time, a Via Crucis began for bishops, priests, monks and nuns, and above all the numerous Christian families who were torn from their land and relocated in the wide Siberian wilderness, stressed His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
During this period of persecution of the Church, families became hearths where faith in God was preserved and where new generations have received the gift of faith, becoming a authentic domestic churches.”
“In their houses, underground priests made sure to find hiding places for the Lord’s altar where, during the silence of the night, the celebrated the Eucharist and the other Holy Sacraments.”
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, new challenges in the form of mass migration, stresses head of the UGCC.
“Families of believers, especially mothers, once again brought our Church to countries where we had more recently become present, particularly in Western Europe. Often these Ukrainian mothers and grandmothers restored Christian and human values in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese families, and others. Many elderly people in these countries passed to eternity, reconciled with God and received the Sacrament of Holy Anointing, thanks to a Ukrainian nurse.”
During the twentieth century, priests followed emigrants to the Americas, Australia, Europe and even the Far East, noted Major Archbishop.
“The faith-filled Ukrainian Families brought their Church to every corner of the world, “carried out and continue to out this mission, leaving behind moral and ascetic-spiritual formation. ”
“Even in the current time of the war in Ukraine, in the face of another challenge of a real and severe economic crisis, Christian families welcomed migrants and the source of unforeseen power of solidarity” According to UN estimates, in Ukraine there are approximately million and a IDPs, most of whom have been helped by Ukrainian families, the fundamental cell of society”.
“Today I have to affirm that, in the past, the family defended and preserved the Church. Today the Church has a sacred duty to protect and preserve the family; the family as the faithful, fruitful, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman. ”
“My faithful asked me to appeal to the Synod Fathers to remember that we, the bishops are not the masters of the revealed truth about the family, but rather its’ servants. Today, our people expect from us to confirm and emphasize the Church’s teaching on the family, clarified and summarized blessed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.”
“Holy and devout families, strengthened in faith, find, on their own, the most creative ways to answer the challenges of modern society and teach us how to show mercy to those who are experiencing difficulties. We can not solve all the problems with which the world is trying the family, but we can preach the Gospel Truth about the family and help the next generation, with God’s help to go forth aliong the path to holiness “.