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New leader of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine explains his meeting with the Pope

During the general audience, the Pope greeted the new primate of the Greco-Catholic Church of Ukraine, it?s the largest of the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. Sviatoslav Shevchuk was elected last week by the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Synod of Bishops. He will now lead the 6 ½ million people that follow the Eastern Church.

Benedict XVI“Today I have the joy to greet His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the new Major Archbishop of Kiev-Halyc.”In recognition of the visit, the pope remembered the martyrs of their Church, which was heavily subjected during the Soviet era. He also recognized the work of Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the primate who recently resigned for health reasons.Benedict XVI“You will guide this Church in the Faith in Jesus Christ following your own tradition and spirituality, in communion with the See of Peter, which is a visible bond of unity for which so many have not hesitated to deliver even life itself.”Arch. Sviatoslav ShevchukMajor Archbishop of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine “The Holy Father gave his blessings, his approval for the decision of the synod and I feel that I can receive the support from the rock of St. Peter and this immovable rock is the source of my strength, my peace, my openness even, my readiness to complete my mission as a young but also new head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church”. ;The new primate is only 40 years old and is the fourth youngest bishop in the world. The main purpose of his visit to Rome was to express his unity with the Pope.The Greco-Catholic Church of Ukraine, is the largest Eastern Church. It?s in communion with Rome, but has its own eastern traditions which is governed by a synod of bishops headed by the Primate and its liturgy contains elements of the Orthodox tradition. It?s followers are mostly in Ukraine, but has extended to North and South America, as well as Australia.In recent years, the Eastern Church has constantly called on Rome for its conversion into a Patriarchate, which would give them more autonomy. But the archbishop Shevchuk said that the Patriarchate was not discussed with the pope in this meeting.Arch. Sviatoslav ShevchukMajor Archbishop of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine“We will not speak, we?ll work, we?ll work with this task of the evangelization, develop our structures, our presence. We want to be a very active church, traditional and modern in today?s world. So this is the best way to develop our identity.”The new primate would also like to improve relations with other Orthodox denominations. He?s already gotten off to a good start, after receiving the greetings of the Moscow Patriarchate and his enthronement ceremony was attended by leaders of all the Christian churches in Ukraine.

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