Major Archbishop Shevchuk dedicates the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Kiev
Maria Lozano, AED International
On the invitation of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevczuk – Head of the Ukrainian Church which is in full communion with the Holy See – a delegation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) attended the dedication of the newly-built Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. The dedication took place on 18 August on the occasion of the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Prince Vladimir in Kievan Rus, the precursor of today’s states of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
“We have built it together!”
More than 25,000 faithful attended the three-hour liturgy, including pilgrims from Ukraine, Eastern and Western Europe as well as Canada, Australia, the USA and Scandinavia among others. The Papal Legate Cardinal Audrys Bačkis, Apostolic Nuncio Mons. Thomas Edward Gullikson, and more than 40 bishops from Ukraine as well as from the aforementioned diaspora regions also celebrated the Mass together with more than 500 priests. Only a small proportion were able to attend the celebrations inside the Cathedral. The great majority of the faithful watched the liturgy on screens outside. The liturgy was broadcast live on Ukrainian television.
The sermon by Major Archbishop Shevchuk was aimed in particular at the Ukrainian youth, who represent the future of this Church: “Jesus Christ be praised! 1025 years ago, our people became a part of God’s people. We are the people of God! And so the city of Kiev has become the centre of our Christianity…Father! You are our God! Happy is the people whose Father is the Lord!” Again and again, Shevchuk emphasised the significance of the “Sobor”, which in the Slavic language means “the assembly” but also “the cathedral”: “Our ‘Sobor’ is in Kiev. This ‘place’ will be the heart of our Church! We have built it together! It is our house! I thank you for your aid from Ukraine, from Western and Eastern Europe, and from the other continents!”
Our building project : a spiritual dimension
ACN has also given its support to the building of the “Sobor Voskresinnya Khrystovoho” Cathedral to the tune of $548 000 in recent years. Magda Kaczmarek, head of the charity’s Ukraine country section, was especially pleased to be able to be present for the project’s completion: “I am delighted to be able to be here, because I can feel how young and flourishing the Catholic Church in Ukraine is. When I see so many children and young people here, I notice once again that our building projects not only have a material dimension but also a spiritual one. We are not only erecting a building, we are also helping to build the future of our Church.”
An especially moving part of the liturgy was the renewal of the baptismal promise and the Blessing of the Waters at the Dnieper River by Major Archbishop Shevchuk. The Papal Letter, read by Cardinal Audrys Bački, further indicated the significance of the event. The 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus by Saint Vladimir was an occasion of hope for the full unity of all Christians among the Ukrainian people, it said.
Relics of the three Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew are preserved and honoured in the Cathedral together with those of two popes who died on Ukrainian territory – Clement I and Martin I – as well as the Ukrainian martyrs Jozafat Kuncewicz, Mykola Czarneckyj and Josaphat Kocylovskyj.
The largest Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine in full communion with Rome has a congregation of approximately 4.2 million, at least half of whom are living abroad. At the end of the 1990s, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar decided to transfer the seat of the Head of the Church in Ukraine from Lviv to Kiev, and with that move the construction of the Cathedral in Kiev began.