Udział i rola Cerkwi greckokatolickiej w kongresach welehradzkich (1907–1936)
The participation and role of the Ukrainian Greek-Ca tholic Church in the Velehrad Congresses (1907–1936)
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At the time of the centenary of the Congresses of Velehrad, it seemed appropriate to describe briefly the activity of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky (1865–1944), the Greek catholic pioneer of Ecumenism. The gathering at Velehrad of the bishops and theologians of these two traditions, through their dialogue, brought many benefits and caused openness. Merit for the progress achieved is due to the vision and tenacity of Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky. Let us also highlight the very active participation of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, consisting not only of the hierarchy, but also of the priests, religious orders such as the Basilians and the Studites, seminarians, students, and the laity, showing by their presence the importance of these congresses. The union of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches constituted one of the Metropolitan’s major concerns. At the age of 23 he declared that he “wanted to devote his whole life to the cause of the unity between the two Churches”. During this time he was never discouraged by the difficulties he encountered. His goal was to found a real fraternity between the Churches. He encouraged a spirit of open dialogue, taking into account the historical realities and reasons for the separation, in order to eliminate division, and to establish a unity in diversity. This reaffirms that Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky was a precursor of the possibility of the unity between the two Churches. His efforts brought positive results. The Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church continues its ecumenical role in contributing to the union of the two spiritualities and the two cultures, so that the universal Church breathes with its two lungs. The Ukrainian Church plays the role of “a spiritual bridge” between both the Eastern and Western tradition. For the Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky, the union of the Churches was rather a divine work than a human project. Pope John Paul II was not mistaken by stating that the Congresses of Velehrad were “a true step towards modern ecumenism”.
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