This morning, in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the members of the permanent synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and addressed the following to them:
Speech of the Holy Father
Beatitude, Dear Brother Major Archbishop,
It was my desire to invite you here in Rome for a fraternal sharing, also with the Superiors of the competent Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. I thank you for accepting the invitation, it's nice to see you. Ukraine has been living for a long time a difficult and delicate situation, for over five years wounded by a conflict that many call "hybrid", composed as it is by war actions where those responsible are camouflaged; a conflict where the weakest and the smallest pay the highest price, a conflict aggravated by propaganda falsifications and various types of manipulation, including the attempt to involve the religious aspect.
I carry you in my heart and I pray for you, dear Ukrainian Brothers. And I trust you that sometimes I do it with the prayers I remember and that I learned from Bishop Stefano Chmil, then a Salesian priest; he taught me when I was 12, in 1949, and I learned from him to serve the Divine Liturgy three times a week. I thank you for your fidelity to the Lord and to the Successor of Peter, which is often expensive throughout history, and I beg the Lord to accompany the actions of all political leaders to seek not the so-called partisan good, which in the end is always an interest at the expense of someone else, but the common good, peace. And I ask the "God of all consolation" (2 Cor 1: 3) to comfort the souls of those who have lost their loved ones because of the war, of those who bear their wounds in body and spirit, of those who had to leave the home and work and face the risk of looking for a more human future elsewhere, far away. You know that my gaze goes every morning and every evening to the Madonna of whom His Beatitude gave me as a gift, when he left Buenos Aires to assume the office of Major Archbishop that the Church had entrusted to him. In front of that icon I begin and end the days entrusting to the tenderness of the Madonna, who is Mother, all of you, your Church. We can say that I start the days and finish them "in Ukrainian", looking at the Madonna.
The main role of the Church, faced with the complex situations caused by conflicts, is to offer a witness of Christian hope. Not a hope of the world, which is based on things that pass, come and go, and often divide, but the hope that never disappoints, that does not give way to discouragement, that knows how to overcome all tribulation in the sweet force of the Spirit (see Rm 5,2-5). Christian hope, nourished by the light of Christ, makes the resurrection and life shine even in the darkest nights of the world. Therefore, dear Brothers, I believe that in difficult times, even more than in those of peace, the priority for believers is to be united to Jesus, our hope. It is a question of renewing that union founded on baptism and rooted in faith, rooted in the history of our communities, rooted in great witnesses: I think of the host of heroes of everyday life, of those numerous saints next door who, with simplicity, in your people they have responded to evil with good (see Romans 12:21). They are the examples to look at: those who in the mildness of the Beatitudes had the Christian courage, that of not opposing the wicked, of loving their enemies and praying for the persecutors (see Mt 5: 39.44). They, in the violent field of history, have planted the cross of Christ. And they brought fruit. These brothers and sisters of yours who have suffered persecution and martyrdom and who have only rejected the Lord Jesus, have rejected the logic of the world, according to which violence is answered with violence, have written the clearest pages of faith with their lives: they are fruitful seeds of Christian hope. I read the book Perseguitati per il producing. Behind those priests, bishops, nuns, there is the people of God, who carry out all the people with faith and prayer.