The hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of America express our complete confidence and support for our Patriarch Sviatoslav, Reverend Hierarchs, Clergy, Religious and Faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine in their response of offering much needed pastoral care for the brave Ukrainian citizens voicing their opposition to the suppression of freedoms in today’s society in Ukraine. Their response of love and understanding and nurture recalls for all the compassion which Jesus showed for the oppressed.

We share the amazement of the civilized world in observing the harsh and brutal responses of the Ukrainian government to our Church and to people expressing their concerns for the welfare of their neighbors and their nation. The reports of threats of intimidation by government officials as to the legitimacy of this Church of Martyrdom, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, cause all of us great concern for the welfare of all people of Ukraine, and particularly for all faiths and religious communities.

We call upon our brothers and sisters of all faiths in the USA to support those who show great courage in opposing those who would want to restrict the expression of religious and other basic human freedoms in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church only recently emerged from the oppressive circumstances it endured for over fifty years under Soviet communism, with the hope and commitment of freely celebrating our faith in a democratic nation. Unfortunately, persons with oppressive and repressive ideologies continue to exercise an inordinate control amidst a people simply desiring to live freely and to express their faith without fear of retribution and assimilation into one dominant faith. Such persons in authority pose a danger to people of all faiths in the former communist countries. Ukraine can be regarded as the stage for the re-imposition of specific ideologies of control and repression. The only remedy is for people of all faiths, together with persons committed to the development of a nurturing democracy in Ukraine, to speak in solidarity and to support those who demonstrate great courage in raising their voices in protest against the forces of oppression.

We call upon our clergy, religious and faithful to pray steadfastly for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful in Ukraine that the merciful Lord sustains their courage to speak the truths all of us need to hear. We call upon all to assist our brothers and sisters in whatever ways that may be needed, so that we may share in regenerating a Church emerging from martyrdom. Let each of us be vigilant in ensuring that the world is aware of what is happening so that all oppression is widely exposed and doomed to failure.

We also call upon all freedom-loving individuals to pray and support the cause of religious freedom in Ukraine and in countries where such basic freedoms are suppressed. Pope Francis has steadfastly stirred all of us to disturb the complacent, so that we do not surrender to an attitude of indifference and apathy to the hurts and sufferings of others. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, its hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful have revealed themselves as not surrendering to indifference in response to the re-imposition of oppression in Ukraine. The martyrs of the past are the great witnesses that today inspire strength, hope and courage to those who oppose these acts of oppression.

I ask you to stand steadfast with them, equally committed to a world offering to all the basic human rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and conscience, and the right of self-determination. Pray and resolve to have courage as we raise our voices in opposition to the repressive efforts to deny these basic rights throughout the world and especially in our beloved homeland Ukraine at this time.

In Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, almost 250 years ago, brave men founded a nation upon the ideal that all men and women are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights – “that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. These words burn in the hearts of freedom loving peoples everywhere and inspire our brothers and sisters in Ukraine at the present hour.

As we pray to Almighty God, let us ask that the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit inspire and enlighten all, especially the present-day oppressors, to heed the Old Testament command of God inscribed on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”. And we pray, through the Grace of God, that these words will soon resound throughout Ukraine.

God bless you with that which will enable you to respond generously and with great courage.

Given on the Feast of Theophany of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on the Julian calendar, January 19, 2014 in the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

+Stefan Soroka (author)
Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia

+Richard Seminack
Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

+Paul Chomnycky, OSBM
Eparch of Stamford

+John Bura
Apostolic Administrator of St. Josaphat in Parma

(You can also read this statement on our website.)

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