ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS
Consistory Hall, Papal Summer
Residence, Castel Gandolfo
"Grace to you and peace from God Our Father" (Col 1: 2)! I address this apostolic greeting to you, the members of the Latin-rite Episcopate of Ukraine. I wish each one of you the Lord's grace and peace, which are the secret of our mission as Bishops at the service of man. At the end of your ad limina visit, which has given me the opportunity to meet you personally, to be better acquainted with the situation in each of your Dioceses and to share with you the hopes and problems that mark your daily journey, I thank God for all that in his merciful love he continues to fulfil through your pastoral ministry. I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Marian Jaworski and thank him for his words expressing your common sentiments. I noted in his discourse your eager desire to strengthen unity with one another and to join forces to present a united front to face today's great social, cultural and spiritual challenges. Nor do you ever tire of seeking possible solutions, also in dialogue with the local Authorities, for the sole purpose of providing spiritual care for the flock entrusted to you by the Lord. I learned with deep appreciation of the catechetical, liturgical, apostolic and charitable efforts being made in your Dioceses: a programme that also aims to consolidate the yearning for catholicity which makes all the baptized feel they are members of the one Body of Christ.
"Ut unum sint"! Christ's prayer in the Upper Room constantly resounds in the Church as an invitation to tirelessly seek unity. If communion is consolidated in the Catholic communities it will be easier to carry on a fruitful dialogue between the Catholic Church and the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Having lived beside our Orthodox brethren for centuries, attempting to weave with them a daily dialogue that embraces many aspects of life, you are acutely aware of the ecumenical requirement. May the problems, obstacles and even possible failures not dampen your enthusiasm as you move in this direction. With patience and humility, with charity, truth and an open spirit, the journey before you will be less laborious, especially if you never lack the basic outlook, in other words, the conviction that all Christ's disciples are called to follow in his footsteps, docilely allowing themselves to be guided by his Spirit, who is always active in the Church.
Dear Brothers, there would be so many topics to discuss in our personal
conversations, to which I should like to return in order to encourage you to
continue on the way on which you have set out. I am thinking, for example, of
the fundamental need to impart a satisfactory formation to priests, so that they
may carry out their mission in the best possible way; as well as the care of
vocations, which is a pastoral priority to ensure workers for the Lord's harvest.
The vast majority of priests are witnesses of true self-denial, joyful
generosity, humble adaptation to the precarious situations in which they find
themselves, working sometimes also with financial difficulties. May God preserve
and protect them always! Love them, because they are your irreplaceable
collaborators, support and encourage them, pray with them and for them. Be
loving fathers to them to whom they can confidently turn. I know of your efforts
to promote vocations with various initiatives. Make sure that candidates to the
priesthood at the seminaries receive a harmonious and complete formation.
Accompany young priests in the first steps of their ministry with fatherly
concern, and do not overlook the continuing formation of priests. I noted with
pleasure the presence and commitment of consecrated men and women, an authentic
gift for the spiritual growth of every community.
Dear and venerable Brothers, at times the overall situations with their relative problems might make your work seem arduous and truly beyond human capacity. Never fear, the Lord is always with you! Stay united to him, therefore, in prayer and in listening to his Word I entrust you and your communities to Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and of the Church, so that she may always protect and guide you with her motherly hand, while with affection I impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing.
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