Eastern Church leaders in Prague discuss Family, Ukraine, discrimination against Church
(Vatican Radio) Eastern Catholic Church leaders of Europe meeting in Prague say the Family must be a priority in the pastoral work of their respective churches and are expressing their concern over the situation in Ukraine and what they see as borderline “discrimination” against the Church in South-East Europe.
More than 40 Eastern Catholic bishops in Europe participated in their annual meeting 4-7 June in the Czech capital and Břevnov, looking ahead to the Synod on the Family later this year. In a final communique, they expressed their commitment to providing “evermore careful preparation for the sacrament of matrimony” where couples are open to life. They also committed themselves to spiritually accompanying and guiding families.
They expressed the hope that, “in times of great vulnerability and major moral, economic and social crisis,” governments will “become more aware of the important role of the social and educative cohesion of the family” and will “legislate on its behalf, on work and on migration.”
Ukraine: “international misinformation” seeks to undermine Christian unity
With regard to Ukraine where they observed “the on-going situation of external aggression in the east of the country,” the Church leaders expressed their solidarity with people of Ukraine, and “above all the Greek Catholics.” They exhorted them “to pursue the path of dialogue and unity between the country’s Christian churches which a particular attitude of misinformation – especially at the international level – aims to undermine.”
The Catholic Church leaders affirmed that “at this dramatic moment in the country’s history,” all the churches are committed to rebuilding the difficult path of social cohesion firstly through conversion, “the only weapon in the face of those who think of corruption as the only controlling principle of society.”
Hunger and poverty do not take holidays
Describing the situation in Ukraine as “the greatest humanitarian disaster since the fall of the totalitarian regime,” the communique said the Major Archbishop of Kiev, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk thanked the bishops for their prayers and spiritual closeness and recalled the generosity of the local Caritas organizations. He called for greater solidarity from the international community, saying hunger and poverty do not take holidays!
Catholic Church in South-East Europe faces “borderline discrimination”
The Eastern Church leaders expressed particular concern about what they described as a “too ‘discretionary’ attitude – bordering on discrimination – of numerous local administrations which seem to want to attack the Catholic Church under the administrative, economic and financial profile.”
They noted various attempts to “discredit the Church” over its financial transparency while recognizing the need for national and local churches to work for ever greater transparency in financial management and to adhere to management models in force in their respective countries. They called for the impartiality of the justice system.
The next meeting of the Eastern rite Church leaders of Europe will take place in Fatima, Portugal in October 2016.