December 23rd, 2016

Excerpts: Encyclical on Danger of Gender Ideology

Read the full Encyclical on the Danger of Gender Ideology

Prot. N. ВА 16/562 ENG.

ENCYCLICAL
OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
OF THE MAJOR ARCHBISHOPRIC OF KYIV-HALYCH
OF THE UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH
CONCERNING THE DANGER OF GENDER IDEOLOGY

Dearly Beloved in Christ!

Introduction

1. In the twentieth century, the people of Ukraine suffered from a godless Soviet regime that attempted to forcefully tear people from the roots of faith and impose an atheistic worldview. Presented as the only “scientific” one, this worldview denied human persons’ freedom of conscience and deprived them of the right to freely profess their religious beliefs. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world stands before similar challenges, which, however, are not accompanied by open and bloody persecution, but rather are served by hidden ideological means of destroying Christian faith and morality, as well as universal human values. Some of these challenges relate to areas of human sexuality and family life, and are not new to Ukraine; rather, they are accented or presented in public consciousness in a new manner. Others are entirely new and even far removed from the Ukrainian context, but certain forces are attempting to artificially impose them upon us.

3. Under these circumstances, the Church-Mother seeks by means of this Encyclical to warn the faithful and all people of good will of the threats that are hidden behind gender ideology and similar worldview systems, and recall the traditional biblical, Christian, and universal values upon which interpersonal relationships and the way of organizing social life are based.

Creation of Eve

I. Human Dignity in God’s Plan

4. The whole history of salvation attests to the incredible love of God for the human person. From the very first pages of Holy Scripture we learn about the extraordinary greatness of the human person. While everything else arose from only one word of God, Church tradition speaks of a Divine “meeting” that preceded the creation of the human person: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26). Particular attention should be given to the phrase “in our image, after our likeness.” This is the basis of the concept of human dignity, which in the New Testament is emphasized in the Incarnation of the Son of God in human nature. The image of God is integral to the natural dignity and spiritual beauty of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death. This is a common feature of all people that reflects their equal and infinite value.

6. Sexuality, as a gift to be man or woman (cf. Gen. 1:27) given by God during creation, integrally covers all the natural dimensions of existence of the human person: body, soul, and spirit. A person is called to accept God’s plan for themselves as expressed in their sex—because sex does not depend on human choice—and to embody it in their lives. Sexuality can only be comprehended in light of the Christian understanding of love as a vocation to the communion of persons and the self-giving of one person to another. “In marital life, a man and a woman open themselves to God through mutual love, which becomes the foundation of their indissoluble union, fidelity, and fruitfulness. In the virginal state of consecrated life, sexuality is transfigured in the Holy Spirit in order to serve God and one’s neighbour in love for the sake of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Matt. 19:12). Any selfish exploitation of another person as a means for obtaining sexual pleasure contradicts God’s gift of love, deforms the essence of sexuality, and deeply wounds the person.”[1]

9. One of the features inherent in God’s image in the human person is free will, by which it can freely choose the good; however, it is also able to choose another way: “The most profound dimension of human freedom consists in being able to freely choose God and to be with him. This is the good. Yet with this same freedom, we can also reject our relationship with God—and this is evil.”[2] “The devil in Paradise lured Adam with a vain hope for divinization, proposing that he consider the measure of goodness resides not in God but within himself…The deceit of the Evil One is based on the premise that God is deceiving humankind with his commandment, thereby undercutting their freedom…”[3] From the biblical account of the fall of the progenitors, we conclude that a sinful choice has serious consequences for the person—the loss of paradise as a state of blessed communion and life with God and other creatures (cf. Gen. 3:4–14). The sin of the progenitors also obscured the truth about the human person as the image of God. Since then, human nature has also been marred by sin. The brokenness caused by sin continues in history, appearing in a variety of abuses in the area of ​​sexuality.

II. The Concept of Gender

13. Over the course of millennia, humankind has recognized the existence of two sexes based on biological criteria—male and female. Recently, worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, objective scientific reality, and natural law have become widespread and influential, namely theories of gender. Their basis is the distinction between biological sex, given to the person from conception, and gender, a certain personal choice of sexual behaviour. Consequently, gender identity is no longer considered a gift from God, but rather declared a matter of individual choice for each person. The person ”no longer understands its deep calling to eternal love, but considers it as a temporary diversion.”[4] While sexual identity is based on a biological, psycho-physical reality, gender identity abandons binary gender (male or female) in favour of a broad and free range of self-identification. Thus, sex is a natural phenomenon, whereas gender is the reality of psychological self-understanding often caused by social influence. Gender ideology insists that a person is free to choose and implement their sexual identity regardless of their biological sex. Such separation and opposition of sex and gender is dangerous, because it distorts the traditional foundations of society based on divine and natural law.

16. Of particular concern is the fact that gender ideologies are not just virtual worldview systems—they are aggressively imposed on public opinion, gradually introduced in legislation, and made ever more forcefully visible in different spheres of human life, especially in education and upbringing. “If these ideas circulated only in theory, they would not go beyond the right to private opinion and the possible existence of different philosophical views. The danger lies in the fact that such anti-human theories are trying to become the ruling ideology and be put into practice, sometimes by means of international pressures on the global community.”[5] Pope Francis states that “today a world war is being wagged to destroy marriage,” referring to the theory of gender as “destructive ideological colonization.”[6] That which was until recently considered sexual deviation is today proclaimed by gender theorists as not only normal, but as a rule of life to be followed under pain of ridicule, censure, and even punishment.

III. Destructive Outcomes of Gender Ideology

20. Gender ideology, which denies the existence of objective human nature, the complementarity of man and woman, and the values of marriage, actually denies the existence of the Creator and negates the truth of humans in his image. In such ideologies, there is no place for God, and therefore there is no place for the person in their uniqueness and dignity, because human uniqueness is grounded in its connection with the Creator. The biblical doctrine of the person, created by God, emphasizes the greatness and dignity of its origin and calling—from God and eternal life with him in holiness (divinization), while, according to gender theory, the person has a base origin and lowly potential—from itself and for temporary life, with a goal of its own pleasure. Therefore, one can say with conviction that gender theory is destructive and anti-human.

21. In addition to the fact that gender ideology clearly contradicts the teaching of Holy Scripture and Christian anthropology, it also does not correspond to objective scientific data, and is instead based on subjective hypotheses and pseudoscientific assertions made by interested parties. Objective researchers have concluded that gender ideologues ignore results of scientific research, medicine, psychology, anthropology, and bioethics that show the difference between men and women is based on the difference between the structure of the brain, hormonal balance, psychological nature…

IV. Proclaiming the Truth of Christ in the Context of an Expanding Gender Ideology

27. All people of good will should work together to defend the dignity of each person, to affirm their natural and God-given characteristics and freedoms, and also for the full protection and development of the family community on the foundation of God’s revelation, which is the real guarantor of human society’s development and worthy future. “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.”[7] At the same time, it is necessary to show greater vigilance and responsibility in order to prevent the spread of pernicious theories, which are the latest forms of ideological enslavement and destruction of the person, the family, and society as a whole.

Conclusion

29. The Lord calls people to salvation and the fullness of happiness, giving his Commandments as a guide on our earthly journey. We call the UGCC faithful and all people of good will to value and protect human dignity in the face of new ideological challenges and threats. Each of us is called to this, no matter what our position in society.

For this reason:

    • we call to mind that “individuals should be endowed with this virtue [of chastity] according to their state in life: for some it will mean virginity or celibacy consecrated to God…. For others it will take the form determined by the moral law, according to whether they are married or single,”[8] and therefore should be properly and responsibly prepare for the choice of their state of life, based on the solid foundation of faith, morality, and divine and natural law;
    • we encourage parents to lead a good Christian life that will be an example for their children. Please take care of the Christian education of future generations, not only by transmitting the foundations of faith, but also through all manner of encouragement that they live a life in Christ and by warning them against the dangers of the false exercise of one’s free choice. Parents “are called to be gentle and wise guides. It is they who must lead the child on its path of discovering God’s gift of sexuality in himself or herself, revealing its nature and meaning in a manner appropriate to the age, needs, and depth of the child’s inquiry”;[9]
    • we appeal to workers in the field of medicine, remembering that “the most important point of a physician’s oath is to serve human life from the moment of conception and to defend its health,”[10] to promote the dissemination of a culture of life, defending in particular the life of unborn children and the elderly or terminally ill;
    • we ask everyone, especially those working in the fields of information and education, to defend and disseminate traditional moral values ​​regarding ​​sexuality and the family, remembering that “nothing can justify recourse to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media”;[11]
    • we ask all who are responsible for developing educational curricula to prepare them on the basis of natural and divine law, respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man,[12] avoiding any propaganda against sexual purity, marital fidelity, and the true identity of the human person;
    • we call upon scientists to remember that science and technology should recognize the basic criteria of morality and be “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, of his true and integral good, in conformity with the plan and the will of God,”[13] and also encourage them to use available means to demonstrate the truth about gender ideology and other destructive ideologies, and point to the importance of adhering to traditional moral and ethical foundations;
    • we remind pastors of their sacred duty to care for the spiritual condition of the family—a community of love and a “domestic church” (cf. Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:8) that is “the primary cell of the Christian community” and “a school of social solidarity”[14] on which a healthy society is built. We also encourage them to accompany families at all stages of their existence, from preparation for married life, through support for young couples, diligent catechesis of families, and special care of families who are experiencing difficulties or crises. In addition, we ask pastors, while maintaining the teachings of the Church and observing a high level of spiritual and psychological maturity, to pay attention to pastoral work with people who have problems with the definition of their own sexual identity;[15]
    • we call upon all people of good will, especially government officials and legislators, to be vigilant that the legislation of Ukraine not give way to implementing uncertain and untested concepts of human identity or family, or principles of gender education, remembering that “the ruling authority has as its aim to serve the common good, to preserve and protect the natural and true freedom of citizens, families, and community organizations.”[16] Legislation will only be firm and unshakable when it is based not on temporary and dubious theories, but on the natural law affirmed by divine revelation.

30. We invite all to pray that God help us all to live according to his commandments, trusting in his Divine Providence and not succumbing to the temptations of opposing his will. The Lord, having created human beings as “male and female,” looked at them and said that it was very good (Gen. 1:27,31). May he embrace each person and family in his loving and life-giving gaze, confirm us all in his truth and love, and send down upon all his Fatherly blessing!

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops
of the Major Archbishopric of Kyiv-Halych of the UGCC

† SVIATOSLAV  

Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the day of the holy martyrs Plato and Roman,
1 December (O.S. 18 November) 2016 A.D.

[1] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 862–863
[2] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 137.
[3] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 145–146.
[4] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).
[5] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).
[6] Cf. “Indifesa delmatrimonio. L’appello durantela visita alla chiesa dell’Assunta a Tbilisi,” L’Osservatore Romano (3-4 October 2016), 6.
[7] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2333.
[8] Persona humana (29 December 1975), § 11.
[9] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 865.
[10] Theological Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC, Defending Conceived Life: Theological, Moral-Ethical, and Pastoral Principles of the Moral Evaluation of the Problem of Destroying Unborn Children (Kyiv, 2012), § 71.
[11] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2498.
[12] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2526.
[13] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2294.
[14] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 656.
[15] Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1 October 1986), § 6: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html
[16] Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, How to Build a Native Home? (1942), § 7.

September 17th, 2016

In the Beginning…

Happy New Church Year!
September 1st was the first day of the new liturgical year. A pious tradition of the Church holds that Jesus of Nazareth began preaching the good news of His mission on September 1st. When our Lord entered the Synagogue, He was given the book of the Prophet Isaiah to read and He opened it and found the place where it is written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant,
and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”
(Luke 4:18-21).

 

Tradition also holds that it was during the month of September that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land. And, the custom of beginning a new year with autumn was common in Biblical and Mediterranean lands because the summer harvest was completed, the crops were stored, and it was a time when people began preparing for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time for a new beginning. This is evident in the services for the New Year as the Church beseeches God for fair weather, seasonable rains, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth.

Nativity of the Theotokos
The first great feast of the new liturgical year, September 8th, honored the Mother of God’s birth; the last great feast of the year, August 15th, remembered her falling asleep. Between these two great feasts the Church marks 1o more great feasts as well as Pascha, the Feast of Feasts. Please check the calendar for our parish’s liturgical schedule to make sure you set aside the time to worship God through the coming year.

St. Sophia’s Catechesis Has Begun

Our new catechetical program, offered in English and Ukrainian, will be featured in the New Star eparchial newspaper this month! Be sure to join us at the next one on Sunday October 16.

This month, we were focused on beginnings. We learned how to hold our fingers when praying the Sign of the Cross, how to ask a priest for a blessing, and how to venerate icons. We discussed the first day of creation (Gen 1:1-5). This led to breakout discussions with the catechists on salvation history, the monarchy of the Father, the integration of faith and science, our salvation in Jesus who is the light of the world, our use of candles in prayer, and much more. The St. Faith/Vira class served everyone chocolate and vanilla ice cream to recall God separating the light from the darkness.

Text won’t replace the Christian fraternity and personal interaction that comes from attending class, but we do have an all-ages pamphlet to help reinforce what was learned which you can now download here. The pamphlet includes:

  • This month’s Bible verse and prayers including the new addition of the morning prayers in Ukrainian
  • Instruction on the nature of the Trinity
  • Biography of Andrei Rublev, iconographer of the famous Hospitality of Abraham icon, often called The Trinity
  • Biography of St. Patrick of Ireland who is known for his teaching on the Trinity
  • Lyrics and links to the song God is the Boss, which teaches how to make the Sign of the Cross
  • Coloring page and information on the Feast of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross
  • Information on Evolution v. Creation and Genesis
  • Instruction on pious behavior, covering the internal and external dispositions of physical movements and postures like prostrations
  • Information on asking a priest’s blessing and venerating icons
  • Instructions on praying the Sign of the Cross
  • Information on the filioque

Everyone in the parish is focused on learning the same prayer and the same Bible verse this month. If you haven’t started to integrate the recommended morning prayers, included in the pamphlet, please take 2.5 minutes from the day to start the good habit now.

Homework: Memorize the Bible verse and learn the Sign of the Cross. If you know the Sign of the Cross well in one language, please learn it in a new language and teach others in the languages you already know. (We recommend knowing it in English, Ukrainian, and Greek.) We’ll pray these together at the next catechesis on Oct 16.

February 25th, 2016

Live-streaming Mercy conference

Sr Ann Laszok, OSBM sent the below note. Please take advantage of the opportunity to delve deeper into your faith by attending the Saturday conference which is conveniently streamed online.

Stairs of Mercy Conference IconGlory to Jesus Christ!

Not only will we be Live Streaming our “Climbing the Stairs to Mercy” conference on March 5, 2016 but we will have Bishop Bohdan Danylo present with us on that day. Come and enjoy the speakers as well as Bishop Bohdan.

If you are not able to attend the conference in person because of distance, please note the site that you can log onto your computer at the bottom of the flyer or click on the following:

Live Stream @ https://livestream.com/ECEDlivebroadcast/events/4833496
Or go to www.EasternCatholic.org and click “Livestream” and “Eparchy of St. Josaphat”

Please help us publicize this launching into Live Streaming for all our workshops from now on.

Thanking you in advance for your support.

Gratefully,
Sr Ann

February 14th, 2016

Patriarch Sviatoslav on the Meeting of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Below are excerpts from an interview with Patriarch Sviatoslav on the topic of the Cuban meeting of Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. The full interview can be read in English here and in Ukrainian here. The joint declaration the two issued and on which Patriarch Sviatoslav is commenting can be read here.

Firstly, I would like to say something about the meeting of the Holy Father with Patriarch Kirill, and then I will comment on the text of the declaration.

One notices immediately, especially from their comments after the meeting, that the two sides existed on two completely different planes and were pursuing different goals. His Holiness Pope Francis experienced this encounter primarily as a spiritual event. He opened his remarks by noting that we, Catholics and Orthodox, share one and the same Baptism. In the meeting, he sought out the presence of the Holy Spirit and received His support. He emphasized that the unity of the Churches can be achieved when we travel together on the same path. From the Moscow Patriarch one immediately sensed that this wasn’t about any Spirit, or theology, or actual religious matters. No common prayer, an emphasis on official phrases about “the fate of the world,” and the airport as a neutral, that is, non-ecclesial environment. The impression was that they existed in two parallel worlds. Did these two parallel realities intersect during this meeting? I don’t know, but according to the rules of mathematics, two parallel lines do not intersect.

Speaking of the signed text of the Joint Declaration, in general it is positive. In it are raised questions, which are of concern to both Catholics and Orthodox, and it opens new perspectives for cooperation. I encourage all to look for these positive elements. However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the UGCC raised more questions than answers.

It was officially reported that this document was the joint effort of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) from the Orthodox side and Cardinal Koch with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from the Catholic side. For a document that was intended to be not theological, but essentially socio-political, it is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities. This was exploited by the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is, first of all, the instrument of diplomacy and external politics of the Moscow Patriarchate. I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.

In general, I would like to say that paragraph 26 of the Declaration is the most controversial. One gets the impression that the Moscow Patriarchate is either stubbornly refusing to admit that it is a party to the conflict, namely, that it openly supports the aggression of Russia against Ukraine, and, by the way, also blesses the military actions of Russia in Syria as a “holy war,” or it is appealing first of all to its own conscience, calling itself to the same prudence, social solidarity, and the active building of peace.

Nonetheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this Declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for Church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a Joint Declaration text. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is a matter of our faith. It is to him, Pope Francis, and to each of us today, that Christ says in the Gospel of Luke: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

February 11th, 2016

Great Fast Pastoral

2016 GREAT FAST PASTORAL
OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF THE U.S.A.
TO OUR CLERGY, HIEROMONKS AND BROTHERS,
RELIGIOUS SISTERS, SEMINARIANS, AND BELOVED FAITHFUL

“Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Logo for Holy Year of MercyThere is a story of a mother who was pleading with Napoleon Bonaparte for mercy on the life of her son, an army officer, who had been sentenced to death for treason. The emperor called the young officer’s crime an unforgivable betrayal of the nation, which it undoubtedly was, and that justice demanded his life.

“Not justice!” cried the mother, “Give him mercy!”
“He does not deserve mercy”, was Napoleon’s curt retort.
“But”, said the mother, “if he deserved it, it would not be mercy!” This mother’s wise reply immediately softened the heart of Napoleon who spared her son from the sentence of death.

As we know, this year our Lenten journey is taking place during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, inaugurated by His Holiness Pope Francis last December in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

We are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful. But before we are able show mercy to anyone else, we are called first to open our own hearts so that we can accept the gift of mercy freely given to us by the Father. This sounds easy enough in theory, but opening our hearts to God is, at times, not as straightforward as we may think. Because in order to accept this gift of mercy, we must first admit to ourselves and to God that we, abject and sinful human creatures, are indeed, in dire need of his mercy. We are called to acquire an attitude of sincere penitence and humility, which is not always easy for us who have grown up on a diet, served up by our modern society, of pride, entitlement, and self-sufficiency.

This is why the Church, in her great wisdom, has given us the great spiritual gift of this holy season of Great Lent. The unique and evocative prayers and services of Great Lent are such that they instill in us, firstly, a recognition of our own faults and failings and secondly, a desire for personal conversion and a return to the loving arms of God the Father and his mercy. And so, over and over again in the divine services we pray: “Lord, have mercy.”

One of the saints of the Byzantine church writes the following: “This expression – Lord, have mercy – is appropriate, since we should not ask for anything except for mercy. As sinners we cannot, nor dare not, say anything to our Loving Master except have mercy.”

Our limited human intellect cannot, of course, even partially grasp the depth and breadth of the mercy of God for us. The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos, which has the same root as the old Greek word for olive oil, a substance which was used in the ancient world as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. This should immediately bring to mind of course, the gospel parable of the Good Samaritan and the traveller who poured olive oil on the wounds of the man lying beaten and left for dead at the side of the road. (Luke 10:29-37)

So when we pray “Lord, have mercy”, we are praying in effect: “Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.” This mercy refers to the infinite loving kindness of God, his compassion for us his suffering children, his desire to lift us up from our pain and sorrow and sinfulness. It is in this profound sense that we pray “Lord, have mercy” with such great frequency and fervor throughout the divine services.

If we are called to embrace the mercy of God with open arms and hearts for ourselves, then how much more are we called to share this gift with others and to witness to this gift in the world? Like the traveler in the gospel parable we too are called to be a good Samaritan to those in our lives whom we meet, even accidently, in our daily lives, who have need of the soothing balm of God’s mercy to be rubbed into their wounds of body and soul, whether or not these wounds come from outside themselves or are self-inflicted.

Jesus never compromised on his ideals, but he did beautifully describe and embody God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness for everyone: a beggar with leprosy, a Samaritan woman with five failed marriages, a traitor like Peter, a selfrighteous human rights abuser like Saul of Tarsus, a prodigal son, an adulteress. The Gospel gives eloquent witness to this on many occasions. If Jesus showed a way of keeping the highest standards, while at the same time offering Living Water – love, forgiveness, mercy, to the least deserving of it, can we then, act any differently?

St. Isaac, the Syrian once said, “Never say that God is just. If he were just, you would be in hell. Rely only on his injustice, which is forgiveness, love and mercy”.

Our prayer today is that the Father’s gifts of forgiveness, love and mercy may brighten the path of our Lenten journey upon which we are now embarking and lead us spiritually renewed and refreshed to the Feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection!

+Stefan Soroka
Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians
Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM (author)
Eparch of Stamford

+ Bohdan Danylo
Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

+John Bura
Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia

Download the pastoral in English and Ukrainian here

ПАСТИРСЬКЕ ПОСЛАННЯ ІЄРАРХІВ УКРАЇНСЬКОЇ КАТОЛИЦЬКОЇ ЦЕРКВИ В СПОЛУЧЕНИХ ШТАТАХ АМЕРИКИ НА ВЕЛИКИЙ ПІСТ ВСЕЧЕСНІШОМУ ДУХОВЕНСТВУ, ПРЕПОДОБНОМУ МОНАШЕСТВУ, СЕМІНАРИСТАМ, НАШИМ ДОРОГИМ ВІРНИМ

«Будьте милосердні, як Отець Ваш милосердний!» (Лк. 6, 36)