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Current Issue
September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
9 November 2017
Greg Kandra




Pope Francis receives members of the community of the Ukrainian Pontifical College in Rome.
(photo: Vatican Radio)


Pope Francis marked the 85th anniversary of the foundation of St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Pontifical College in Rome by sharing some thoughts with the school’s seminarians.

From Vatican Radio:

In his message to future Ukrainian priests, Pope Francis recalled that the institution was built with the intent of conveying a message of love and closeness to those faithful “who live in areas of suffering and persecution.”

He invited them to prepare for their apostolic mission as deacons and priests studying the Church’s Social Doctrine and recalling the example of Pope Pius XI whom, he said, “always and firmly raised his voice in defending the faith, the freedom of the Church and the transcendent dignity of every human person” while condemning the atheistic and inhumane ideologies that bloodied the 20th century.

“Also today the world is world is wounded by wars and violence” the Pope said with a particular reference to the beloved Ukrainian nation “from which you came and to where you will return” after having completed your studies in Rome.

Backing his encouragement to spread a culture of peace and acceptance with words from the Gospel, the Pope said “to you, seminarians and priests of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, these challenges may seem out of your reach; but let us remember the words of the Apostle John: I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”

The Pope said that by loving and proclaiming the Word they will become true shepherds of the communities that will be entrusted to them.

Read more here.

Meantime, CNS has this report from Junno Arocho Esteves, offering the pope’s personal remembrance of a beloved Ukrainian bishop:

Meeting a group of Ukrainian Catholics, Pope Francis said that long ago in Argentina, he had learned about the suffering of Christians in their homeland and about the beauty of their liturgy.

Speaking to a group of professors, students and alumni from the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josephat, a seminary in Rome, the pope said he valued the lessons he learned as a boy from Bishop Stepan Chmil.

“It did me so much good because he spoke to me about the persecution, sufferings, the ideologies that persecuted the Christians” in Ukraine under communism, the pope said on 9 November.

Then-Father Chmil was among the first Eastern-rite Catholics allowed to enter the Salesian order while retaining their liturgical rites and traditions.

After completing his studies in Turin, Italy, Father Chmil ministered to countless Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Western Europe during World War II.

In 1948, he was sent to Argentina to minister to Ukrainian refugees there and met a young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was in his last year of grade school.

“I learned how to assist at Mass in the Ukrainian rite from him; he taught me everything,” the pope said.

Assisting Father Chmil twice a week, he said, “taught me to be open to a different liturgy, which has always remained in my heart as something beautiful.”

After Father Chmil’s death in 1978, the pope said, it was revealed that he had been “consecrated a bishop in secret in Rome” by Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, then-major archbishop.

Pope Francis also said he gave testimony for the Ukrainian bishop’s canonization cause to the current head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych.

“I wanted to remember him today,” he said, “because it is right to give thanks to him for the good that he has done for me.”