GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
to the PILGRIMAGE of the Eparchy of Mukachevo of the Byzantine Rite (UKRAINE)
Vatican Basilica, Altar of the Chair
Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Dear brother Bishops, dear priests, men and women religious, dear brothers and sisters.
You have come to Rome to celebrate together with the Successor of Peter the 30th anniversary of the eparchy of Mukachevo leaving the underground.
I am pleased to welcome you to the Tomb of St. Peter, and together with you I wish to thank the infinitely good Lord who with his powerful hand freed your Church from the long oppression of the Soviet regime.
The Church of Mukachevo is the mother of many martyrs, who with their own blood confirmed their fidelity to Christ, to the Catholic Church and to the Bishop of Rome.
In particular, we commemorate Blessed Bishop Martyr Teodor Romža, who in the darkest moments of your history was able to guide the people of God with evangelical wisdom and courage, a tireless man, following the example of Christ the Good Shepherd, to the point of giving his own life for the sheep.
I also want to remember your ancestors, grandparents and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, who in the intimacy of their homes, and often under the surveillance of the hostile regime, risking their freedom and life, transmitted the teaching of the truth of Christ and they offered to future generations, of whom you are representatives, an eloquent testimony of firm faith, of living faith, of the Catholic faith.
I thank you from my heart, dear brothers and sisters, for your fidelity to Jesus Christ and I invite each of you, "wherever and whenever you are, to renew today your personal encounter with Jesus Christ or, at least, to take the decision to let Him meet, to look for him every day without stopping. There is no reason why anyone might think that this invitation is not for him, because no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord "(Esort. Ap. Evangelii gaudium, 3).
In this solemn circumstance I pray the Lord to protect the Eparchy of Mukachevo from the dangers of evil and give them all prosperity.
Near the Christmas holidays, entrusting your Pastors and all of you, dear faithful, to the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Mukachevo, I wish you a Holy Christmas: may the Son of God be born in your hearts!
Give my cordial greetings to all your loved ones, especially to children and sick and suffering people. And please don't forget to pray for me. God bless you all!
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation