Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ of the Autonomous [«Pomisna»] Ukrainian Catholic Church!

From all parts of the world we have received numerous requests to explain the correspondence between Patriarch Pimen of Moscow and Pope John Paul II, which has been kept secret until now and was only recently published by the Patriarch of Moscow (The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchy, April, 1981). The subject of these letters in the solemn Declaration of the Synod of Ukrainian Catholic Bishops, made with a sense of responsibility, on December 2, 1980. This Declaration once more affirmed the invalidity and lack of canonicity of the so-called Synod of Lviv of 1946, on the basis of which, as is well known, Ukrainian Catholics were forced by all means possible, including terror and coercion, to recognize the Moscow Patriarchate and renounce their union with the Apostolic See in Rome.

If we were to remain silent at this difficult moment, we would betray our pastoral duties and our responsibility to truth and love of the Church of Christ Our Lord. Therefore, we are issuing this declaration without any polemical intent, but fully conscious of our responsibility to God and to the Church.

1. We declare that the exchange of letters was initiated by the Moscow Patriarchate without any knowledge on our part and without any knowledge of the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy. We bear no responsibility whatsoever for what has transpired.

2. In the spirit of total devotion, which unites us with the Holy Father and keeping in mind the great responsibility for the entire Universal Church which rests upon His shoulders, weakened by the recent assassination attempt, we shall try to obtain the requisite explanations from the Apostolic See. As soon as it is feasible, we shall discuss this question with the Holy Father himself.

3. We express our satisfaction that the Holy Father, in his reply to the Patriarch of Moscow, affirmed the fact that the Apostolic See remains firm in its position regarding the rights of Ukrainian Catholics. For our part, We declare and assure you that we shall not retreat in anything that pertains to the defense of the existence, identity, or rights of the Ukrainian Church of our people. We shall do everything in our power to further an honest and sincere ecumenical dialogue which recognizes us as Autonomous Church and which respects our rights and the truth.

4. We call on all our Ukrainian Catholic faithful in Ukraine and throughout the world to intensify their sincere prayers to the Mother of God, the Protectress of Ukraine, and to the servants of God, the protectors of our land, that they may intercede before the throne of Almighty God the Father, His Son Our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Lifegiver to enlighten and strengthen the Holy Father in these difficult times so that in His own ineffable Providence, He will touch the hearts of all of us, on whom depend the future and the fate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in this, the dawn of our Millennium of Christianity. Have faith and pray unceasingly.

Patriarch and Cardinal

Rome, June 8, 1981

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