Pastoral letter about unity in Christ

To Ukrainian People

Peace and Blessings!

Every believer in God, who is conscious of his Ukrainian Nationality, when viewing the present difficult situation of Ukrainian people, both in Ukraine and diaspora, is subconsciously filled with terror for its future existence and development. Persecution and oppression of the Church and religion in Ukraine and divisions and dissensions outside the native Ukraine — these are the facts which every honest Ukrainian is compelled to reflect upon.

Where to look for a solution and what means it is necessary to employ in order that one may tread the right path in this time of misfortune, use means necessary to secure a healthy future and, what is more, that one may not disappear from the face of the earth and go down in history as an absolute and dead element, and has already happened in the history of some Nations. Of course it is not an easy task, even for a genius, to revive and inspire at the present time our un­fortunate people. However, this must not be the reason for throwing up our hands in despair, especially for those who believe in God and look for His sure help. Therefore St. Paul says: «Brace up the hands that hang down, and the tottering knees, and make straight paths for your feet, that no one who is lame may go out of the way, but rather be healed» (Hebrews 12,12).

Every person no matter what views he holds, or how he regards the present religious and governmental positions — whether Ukrainian or foreign — must admit, that the strongest aspect in the deeds and creations of the people is religion — faith in God. Even atheists see and openly declare that it is impossible today to eliminate faith in God from the soul of a person, even by the use of the most powerful means of material and physical governmental strength. Therefore, if this is so, then it is necessary to focus on this most important aspect in the life of a person, Nation and State.

Thus emerges the question, what is the state of affairs concerning religion and belief in God amongst the Ukrainian people? Unfortunately right there is the root of our misfortune. Religion should be that strongest element in the thoughts and deeds of the divided and disunited Ukrainian people. We have Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Evangelical Communities and several divided religious groups, all of which suffer cruel persecutions for Christ and their faith in God. Unfortunately they are following their separate paths and therefore are not strong enough to unite the Ukrainian people and lead the offensive against the evil forces of the world. Our Lord admonished us: «EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS BROUGHT TO DESOLATION, AND EVERY CITY OR HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF WILL NOT STAND» (Matthew 12,25).

Therefore, in view of the numerous pleas of the Ukrainian faithful of different denominations, we appeal to you, Ukrainian people, to BEGIN YOUR REVIVAL FROM THE ROOTS OF YOUR SPIRITUALITY, FROM YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL AND ITS NEEDS!

All individuals who accept faith in God and Christ, must admit that Christ established ONE FLOCK, ONE CHURCH AND ONE SHEPHERD, and for this unity He prayed fervently during the Last Supper: «Holy Father keep in Thy name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one even as we are!» (John 17,11), «that they also may be one in us» (John 17,21), «that they may be perfected in unity» (John 17,23).

The majority of our Churches are Orthodox and Catholic, and objectively speaking, THERE ARE NO FUNDAMENTAL DOGMATIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN US, as is shown by theological studies and attested by history. To tell the truth, severance and division are supported only from outside, by those who know that by this they will weaken the Ukrainian Nation and Church. The bright moment in our history was the basic understanding on the question of the Patriarchate between both Churches during the time of Metropolitans Petro Mohyla and Josyf Weliamyn Rutskyj. Unfortunately, their great concept of agreement was not realized. Formerly also St. Josaphat travelled to Kyiw and there in Pechersky Monastery he explained, that our traditions (liturgical books and chronicles) are based on the unity of the Church of Christ. And bishop Susha commented, that the monks kept silent and could not find an answer: «Mirum quantum muttai ab illis» і «Silentes stupebant, tot loca suorum monstrantem librorum ad firmandam Unionem» (Works of Patriarch Josyf, Vol. II, p. 189). From another side Poles and other neighbors wanted to latinize and polonise Ukrainian Catholics in order to serve their own political motives. Therefore, it is necessary to reflect on such a state of affairs and to give consideration to our own Church, and own good, instead of to be a reel in enemy’s hands, who wind and spin cotton for their own clothing. We have to admit, that such great steps towards understanding, in recent times, were made during the lifetime of the late Metropolitan Andrey Szeptyckyj. Similarly now a cordial meeting took place in the presence of great number of Orthodox in Bound Brook with Metropolitan J. Teodorowycz. There were pronounced these important words: we orthodox are the same as you WE ORTHODOX ARE THE SAME AS YOU CATHOLICS! This is true and conscientious studies reveal, that there are no dogmatic or spiritual differences.IT IS NECESSARY FOR US ALL TO STAND ON THE TRADITION OF OUR KYIW ANCESTORS, and not to be subjected to Russian synodian and likewise influences.

Our Evangelists too stand on the same principle with regard to Christ’s Gospel. It is necessary to draw closer to the Apostles Andrew and Peter, with whom our Christianity began and still continues.

Likewise, our Biblical Communities, who accept the Holy Bible as their basis, read that within it burns this faith in one God and Jesus Christ our Redeemer. When we celebrated Holy Mass in the northern part of the Argentine, in Caco, countless our Jehovah Witnesses learned over the radio about our Holy Liturgy in great Latin Cathedral and came from colonies and woods and filled whole Church to capacity. They prayed with us! No wonder, that they also speak out about the necessity for the unity of religion and faith.

TRUTH IS ONLY ONE! How painful it is for the Nations, for example the Germans, regarding the split in their Church and how they try to unite, how splendidly develops, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, the so-called ecumenical movement — movement of unification, and on the contrary, how strong is the unity of today’s Catholic Church in Poland, which shows resistance to both atheists and materialists! How powerful was our State in the time of Volodymyr the Great and Jaroslaw the Wise! Because then we had ONE FAITH AND ONE CHURCH, which spiritually united whole Nation, strengthened all governmental life and created its own culture!

Would it not be possible to commence united action of both Churches by agreeing the translations of the Holy Liturgy and other Liturgical Services, in order to pray «with one tongue and one heart»? Again, to achieve such friendship with the other Ukrainian Christian Communities, it is necessary to begin by reading the same Holy Scripture translated from the original. Of course, this approach must take place with understanding, slowly and gradually. We must remember, that a lot of cunning is used by our enemies in supporting the break and disunity between our Churches. WE MUST BE OURSELVES? We must look after our own spiritual needs and salvation of our souls — and then there will be unity between us, IN THE FIRST PLACE AT CHURCH LEVEL AND THEN AT NATIONAL AND GOVERNMENTAL LEVEL! It is necessary to place the needs of the Church and Nation above our own vain personal ambitions and own personal or group profits!

This is a very gratifying sign that all believers in Ukraine belonging to various religious groups begin to understand and feel that UNITED IN ONE PARTICULAR UKRAINIAN CHURCH UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PATRIARCH, WE WILL BECOME A FORTRESS AGAINST WHICH THE OFFENSIVES OF THE ENEMIES WILL BE CRUSHED, both religious and political.

We are approaching the FEAST OF THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. With mutual ardent prayers we must turn to the Holy SPIRIT, as the Spirit of Unity, that He may enlighten us, inspire and give us strength for our unification and unity in faith in one Church. The Holy Ghost through the words of St. Paul appeals to us: «HOW I BESEECH YOU, BRETHREN, BY THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT YOU ALL SAY THE SAME THING; AND THAT THERE BE NO DISSENSIONS AMONG YOU, BUT THAT YOU BE PER­FECTLY UNITED IN ONE MIND AND IN ONE JUDGEMENT»!! (Corinthians 1,10).

GOD’S BLESSING UPON YOU!

Given in Rome at the Patriarchal Sobor of St. Sophia.
Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, June 3, 1976

JOSYF
Patriarch

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