Ukrainian Catholic Bishop says unity is still a struggle

.- Bishop Mykola Simkaylo of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi, speaking during his recent visit to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), that the Church in Ukraine continues to struggle for unity.  The bishop also took time to praise the work of President Viktor Yushchenko in the unification process.

“President Yushchenko is personally acting as a catalyst to reconcile the various factions of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. The Greek Catholic Church, under the leadership of Patriarch Lubomyr, also strives for the goal of unity set out in the words of Christ: ‘ut unum sint.’”

“While we speak of two Church – Catholic and Orthodox – we pray the same Creed, expressing joint faith in the one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We trust that God will guide both Churches to a ‘communio’ of Divine Mercy- a meeting of hands and hearts.”

Speaking about the current political situation he stressed, “some people want to defame our president, although he has used all his limited powers to foster national consolidation. In such a political situation, after so many years of totalitarian rule, it is impossible to make rapid progress. Various tendencies must be balanced out and channelled into a common stream, leading the Ukrainian people to mature self-determination, to a common national idea and equal well-being for all citizens.”

Asked about his own priorities, Bishop Simkaylo underlined the importance of faith instruction of children and youth, which also presupposes a good formation of catechists and teachers of religion.

“And we must strive for official State recognition of all degrees and studies in the area of religion and theology. It was only quite recently that the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, as the first such Catholic institution in Ukraine, was allowed to grant degrees recognized by the state to its graduates. A lot of lobbying is required on the part of the Church to broaden this precedent, Apart from this there are 20 churches still under construction in his Eparchy, which has 260,000 faithful, 210 priests, 70 seminarians, and 25 sisters.”

Reflecting on ACN’s 60th  anniversary and the 90th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, Bishop Simkaylo said: “We humbly turn to Our Lady of Fatima, that through her intercession God may send the world more people like Fr. Werenfried (founder of ACN) and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who devoted their lives to helping others in need.”

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