"Can the Eastern Catholic Churches speak with one voice? They can and should!" - His Beatitude Svyatoslav Shevchuk

2022-12-09 18:45

"Ecumenical activity is a priority of our Church. The topic may seem provocative to some, but in the modern ecumenical dialogue, all parties consider the Eastern Catholic Churches as they are - Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Apostolic See. We were often treated with disdain, considering us to be the fruit of Uniatism. Thanks to genuine dialogue, most Orthodox churches consider us a sister Church. The UGCC constantly modernizes and improves its ecumenical position. Can the Eastern Catholic Churches speak with one voice - they can and they should! Life forces us - Eastern Catholics - to speak with one voice. Europe becomes an interesting context that invites all Eastern Catholics to work together. We need a common concept of ecumenism. Unanimity in no way denies unity in diversity. Humility and wisdom unite people among themselves", - the Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) began the conference.

"We, Latin Catholics, cannot be Catholics without our Eastern brothers. The Eastern Catholic Churches have something to say to each other, they have something to say to the Latin Church. We need to hear the Eastern Churches in the Catholic Church. You can bring us something in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council," said the General Director of the l'Oeuvre d'Orient charitable foundation, mons. Pascal Gollnisch.

"Can the Eastern Catholic Churches speak with one voice? My answer is definitely yes" - these are the words of Prof. Edward Alam, but they very clearly summarize the main point of the speeches of each speaker of the historic session of the conference. A professor from Lebanon presented his ecclesiological reflections on the unity of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The historical context of the Union tradition was studied by Fr. Yurii Avvakumov, professor of the history of theology at the Catholic University of Notre Dame in the USA. About "30 years after Balamand - what does the Eastern Catholic Church from the periphery offer to the Universal Church?" - said Ines Angeli Murzaku, professor of religion at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, director of the Catholic Studies program and founding chair of the Department of Catholic Studies at Seton Hall University.

Director of the Institute of Church History, vice-rector for external relations of the Ukrainian Catholic University, prof. Oleh Turiy thought about what unites Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Central and Eastern Europe. Professor Bert Groen, president of the Society of the Eastern Liturgy, coordinator of the Austrian section of the Working Group of Associate Professors of Catholic Liturgy, board member of the Pro Oriente Foundation, board member of the Bredius Foundation for Byzantine Studies, member of the coordinating committee of the International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Working Group of St. Irenaeus, reported on the synodal concept of tradition and the idea of church identity.,

The liturgical section of the International academic conference was opened by Fr. Prof. Vasyl Rudeyko, speaking about the liturgical traditions of the Eastern Catholic Churches and the question of Latinization or the need for de-Latinization.

Deacon prof. Danylo Galadza studied the liturgical expression of unity and communion: commemoration of the hierarchy in the Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine rite. The participants of the conference heard about the Armenian experience in the polyphony of the Eastern Catholic Churches from Fr. Raphael Strontsitsky.

During the ecclesiological-canonical section, took place a presentation of recently published books, co-edited by Prof. Yaroslav Skira and Prof. Peter De Mey "Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk, Vatican II and the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church" and "The Catholic Church and its Orthodox Sister Churches Twenty-Five Years after Balamand".

Afterwards, about the ingenious identity and ecumenical role of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Fr. Prof. Gabriel Hashem from Lebanon. "Eastern Catholic Churches - a common mission? One voice? One code? One heart!" - Fr. gave such a report. Prof. Edward Farrugia. The main motive of his Presentation was a call to the Eastern Catholics: “To be a creative minority”!

About how to speak in unison and in "polyphony" in the Catholic Church - said Fr. Prof. Sunny Thomas Kokkaravalayil. "The greatest lesson we can learn from the Church of the New Testament is that each Church, while remaining in the Catholic community and participating in its mission, can and must preserve its specific However, when the Eastern Catholic Churches have to talk about faith and other fundamental principles, they all have to join their voices and make one. Furthermore, when the need arises, all these Churches have the freedom to harmonize their voices and speak as one. The possibility-compulsory use of this one-plural voice/voices can be explained only in the light of the unity and collegiality of the Church," explained Fr. Prof. Sunny Thomas Kokkaravalil.

Father Oleksandr Lashchuk talked about the importance of the joint pastoral activity of the bishops of the Catholic Churches. Prospects for the future of the common voice of the Eastern Catholic Churches were presented by Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko, President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of UCU, noting: "The Eastern Catholic Churches must speak with one voice. However, this means that each Church should have its own separate voice (monophony), but all of them together - these twenty Churches - should create polyphony in one common choir of the Eastern Churches, which, together with the Church of the Roman-Latin tradition, create one great universal symphony Churches on earth".

It will be recalled that this conference was the first of a series of three international academic conferences dedicated to the general theme "Eastern Catholic Churches: the mission of Unity and Catholicity". The event took place with the support of the charitable association CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) and the French charitable foundation L'Œuvre d'Orient.

More detailed information, the main ideas and proposals, video of the conference are coming soon.