Addressing members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church headed by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, Pope John Paul postponed to “the day established by God” the creation of an Ukranian Patriarchate.
The creation of a Patriarchate has been a long-desired aspiration of the Ukranian Catholics, the largest group of Eastern-rite Catholics; but the Russian Orthodox leadership has fiercely opposed it, stating that it would be an “interference” with its historic territory.
The Holy Father assured them of his affection and prayers, “with my deepest admiration for the vitality of this Church and for the faithfulness which has characterized it throughout the centuries.”
The Holy Father affirmed: “Rich with heroic witnesses, even in the recent past, your church is involved in pastoral programs that enjoy generous collaboration and approval by the clergy and lay people for the effective work of evangelization, promoted by a climate of freedom that today is felt also in your country.”
“For this reason,” he continued, “I share your aspiration, well-founded in the canonical and conciliar discipline, to have full juridical and ecclesiastical configuration. I share this aspiration in prayer and also in suffering, waiting for the day established by God in which I will be able to confirm the mature fruit of your ecclesial development as successor of the apostle Peter.
“Meanwhile,” he continued, “as you well know, your request is being seriously studied, also in the light of the evaluations of other Christian Churches.”
John Paul II urged that this hope not be an obstacle “to your apostolic courage or a reason to turn off or dampen the joy of the Holy Spirit which drives and spurs on Cardinal Husar, together with his brother bishops and priests, religious and the lay faithful to greater abandonment to proclaiming the Gospel and in the consolidation of your ecclesial tradition.”