Our Love for the Lord Urges Us to the Proclamation of the Gospel
Final Press Release of the Meeting of Eastern Catholic European Bishops on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Holy Family in London.
London, Great Britain, 26-29 October 2017
From 26 to 29 October, 2017, the Annual Meeting of Eastern Catholic Bishops in Europe was held in London, at the invitation of H. Ex. Msgr. Hlib Lonchyna, bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family in London. The meeting was held at the Center for Unity of the Focolare Movement at Welwyn Garden City. They were intense days of meetings, conferences, and debates, but above all days of brotherhood and prayer, during which the bishops shared hope and suffering, projects and hardship of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Europe. There were about forty participants including bishops, priests, and experts in catechesis, coming from countries ranging from England to Ukraine, from the Scandinavian regions down to Greece. The general theme of the meeting was the proclamation, the knowledge, and the life of faith in Christ (Kerygma-Catechesis-Mystagogy).
In the same period, also the 60th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Holy Family of London was commemorated. This recurrence gave us the opportunity to remember with gratitude the pastoral attention of the Holy See in meeting the pastoral needs of the Eastern Catholic faithful scattered throughout Western Europe. In this way, it was possible to evaluate the specific situation of the Eastern Catholic Churches in all diaspora circumstances, with the hope that the experience of the past can still be an inspiration in continuing the pastoral engagement of all ecclesial realities in favour of the faithful who have emigrated from their own countries.
The inaugural session was attended by the auxiliary bishop of London, H. Ex. Msgr. Paul McAleenan, who conveyed Cardinal Vincent Nichols's greetings and wished the presence of the Holy Spirit in our meeting. Then the Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain, H. Ex. Msgr. Edward J. Adams, conveyed the greetings of the Holy Father. Pope Francis imparted his Apostolic Blessing on the meeting and extended his greetings to the faithful of the Ukrainian Eparchy and the Archbishop Major. The Apostolic Nuncio insisted on the need to announce the Gospel, to proclaim it, and to discover the beauty of a life of communion with God and with others. He proposed the image of Christ as an antidote to the evils of the present moment. Through kerygma and mystagogy, Christ's salvific work continues through his Church even today.
At the conclusion of these works, all of us, shepherds of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Europe, are comforted by the love of the Lord in our ecclesial service, by the Divine Grace that heals our weaknesses, and by the Lord's love for his Church that drives us to proclaim his Gospel. We are convinced of the central and fundamental necessity of the proclamation of Christ by means of a catechesis and a mystagogy that arise from the celebration of the Divine Liturgy as a place of confession and celebration of our faith. A mystagogy that flows from the Gospel, from the texts of the liturgy, and from the iconography, to lead our faithful to the contemplation of the mystery of Christ, the Word of God incarnate, through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Mary.
The various liturgies that we celebrated during these days have also allowed us to experience the richness of catholicity manifested through the various Christian traditions that for nearly two millennia have been shaping the Christian face of Europe. This fact has made us aware of the ever-new call to witness the Gospel of mercy, love, and reconciliation to today's world, marked by suffering, poverty, injustice, and armed conflicts that afflict the face of so many of our Churches and our peoples. We particularly invoke the gift of peace and reconciliation for the Ukrainian people, who have been overwhelmed for too long by violence and war, and we also recalled the persecution and suffering of our Christian brothers in the Middle East.
We thank the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and the CCEE, represented by its Secretary-General, Msgr. Duarte da Cunha, for their support to our meetings, that have been held for twenty years. The subject we dealt with has also involved us in the renewal of the catechesis of the whole Church. We were comforted by the encouraging support received from the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. During the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, in the cathedral church of Westminster, presided over by His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk and co-celebrated by the Eastern Catholic Bishops, as well as by numerous bishops of Great Britain, with the presence of Cardinal Vincent Nichols who also pronounced the homily, we thanked the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for the help we received from them in the preparation and implementation of our meeting. The cathedral church was crowded with the people of God. The presence of representatives of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches was a testimony to the good ecumenical climate in this country.
The various aspects we have examined in these days have shown us the importance of rediscovering the centrality of Christ in our preaching and catechesis, and the validity of the methods of the great Tradition of our Churches: preaching, catechesis, iconography, and mystagogy; and, at the same time, the need to have recourse to the new media to proclaim the Good News of Christ to all.
In 2018, our meeting will take place from 14 to 17 June in the Eparchy of Lungro of the Italo-Albanians in Italy, at the invitation of H. Ex. Msgr. Donato Oliverio.
The meeting ended on Sunday, 29 October, with the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the cathedral church of the Holy Family in London, presided over by Archbishop Cyril Vasil' SJ, secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
We all go back to our Churches comforted in the faith, and being aware that Christ celebrated, announced, and lived is the true mystagogue of faith, who guides us and sustains us in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel.
London, 29 October 2017
Photos are available here