Josyf card. Slipyj welcomes his eminent guests dec. 12, 1976.

Your Eminence-President Eminences, Excellencies-Bishops, Excellencies-Ambassadors, Monsignors and Professors!

This is not the first time that I have had the singular privilege to welcome you to the modest abode of the Ukrainian Catholic University. You have been my honored guests ever since my advent to the holy city of Rome in 1963. I regard my coming to Rome as a miracle and a great grace from God, not so much for myself, as for the great Ukrainian people and in particular, for our Church, which today is the Church of Confessors and Martyrs. I need to repeat this. I owe my liberation and arrival in Rome after many, long years of imprisonment, exile and detention in the labor camps of death, to the paternal care and endeavors of the saintly Pope John XXIII of blessed memory and the late Presidents Kennedy and Khruschev.

The Ukrainian Catholic University which by its productivity has already gained recognition in the world of learning utilizes the feast of its patron, Saint Clement, to invite you to this «agape» and celebration. Saint Clement was the Pope, who in the early days of Christianity was exiled to the Ukrainian land bordering the Black Sea. There he preached the Gospel of Christ and by his martyrdom firmly united Kiev, the capital city of the oldest Particular Church in Eastern Europe — the «Metropolia of Kiev-Halych and all of Rus’» — with Rome. Shortly, the Ukrainian people will celebrate a great historical event — the millennium of the Baptism to Christianity of its nation and the creation of this Metropolia.

For this feast of St. Clement, which in our Church we celebrate on the eighth of December, the Bishops of our Ukrainian Catholic Church from Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe came to celebrate with us. However, those who are the most dear to our heart — could not come. They remain with their flocks in countries, where they are forbidden to care for their people because the very life of their Church is forbidden, being condemned to death.

The second occasion for greeting you, my highly esteemed and honored Guests, seems to have its own particular character. There are here among us the Bishops of the Particular Ukrainian Catholic Church who have come to honor the Head of their Church on the sixtieth anniversary of his priestly service. I accent this tribute of respect with complete humility as evidence of faithful service to my Church. One third of these sixty years of my priestly life — I have spent as a prisoner. The people and the Church in my native land are prisoners even to this day. Therefore, permit me to say this: there are some who regard me as a Cardinal and pray for me as their Patriarch. Meanwhile, honored Guests, he who stands before you and speaks to you — is a Prisoner and a GALLEY Slave. This stigma is so very dear to our Church and people that it has indelibly inscribed its seal upon us.

We pray, celebrate the Holy Liturgy and work together with the Bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church gathered here. We have held sessions for several days examining with great concern and anxiety the problems affecting the flock committed to our care. We are deeply disquieted because our Church is still persecuted in our Fatherland and see the danger of dispersion and ultimate disappearance that threaten it in a foreign rite and liturgical environment in the diaspora. The salvation of the whole Kiev-Halych Metropolia in our native land and in its daughter Churches dispersed in the various countries and continents — is in the Patriarchate, a Patriarchate with a patriarchal-synodal government, in a word — with complete «Pomistnist’» a complete Particular Church. Thank God, there is no crisis of faith and of rite among our people! On the contrary, even those who did not yet find God, but, living in countries under atheistic regimes, see the essence of humanity in religion and the Christian faith. Regrettably, even though the fullness of the Particular Church with a patriarchal structure has entered deeply into the religious consciousness of our people of God, it meets with obstacles, not so much from God or the Church, but rather from worldly considerations. And here is our unspeakable pain.

A prisoner speaks to Your Eminences, Excellencies, Ambassadors, Monsignors — our dear Guests, among whom I see eminent Church and Civic Leaders, diplomats and political activists. There are many complicated problems in the world today. The Ukrainian people have two in particular. The first is a national-political problem — it concerns the freedom and independence of fifty million Ukrainian people.

The second problem is of an ecclesiastical nature: the implementation of the requirements of the Second Vatican Council, that is, the recognition of the Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the respect for all the laws of the Oriental Churches, thus to give evidence of the universality of the Church of Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>