Message modified by board administrator 4/5/2012, 9:46 am
ACN News: Friday 4th of May 2012 – UKRAINE
Ukraine: Greek Catholic Church in transition and facing new challenges
By Reinhard Backes
“The Church must be present in society, in the media, the schools, the hospitals, the prisons.” With these words, the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Ivano-Frankivsk, Volodymyr Viytyshyn, drew attention to the growing responsibility of the Greek Catholic Church in western Ukraine. “We need well-trained staff; therefore we have launched various education projects,” said Archbishop Viytyshyn during a visit to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The Archeparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk is the second-largest diocese of the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine after Lviv. According to Archbishop Viytyshyn, 456 priests are currently providing pastoral care. There are 270 seminarians and 360 parishes. In the Greek Catholic Church, the majority of pastors are married but a small percentage choose to live in celibacy. Three-quarters of the 780,000 people living in the territory of the Archeparchy belong to the Greek Catholic Church. “In the Soviet period, the most important issue was to keep the faith alive. Today, our main task is to proclaim the Gospels and to build the Church,” says Archbishop Viytyshyn. In the past, the Church stood up against communism, he said; today it is resisting a burgeoning wave of materialism.
In recent years, the Archeparchy of Ivano-Frankivsk has carried out numerous building projects, including some with assistance from ACN. In September, for example, the new theology faculty will be dedicated. An adjacent building with apartments for 44 lecturers and priests was already completed at the beginning of this year, and the seminary will be completely renovated without any disruption to teaching. The building was handed to the Church by the government immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union to replace the existing seminary; it had previously been used as a Communist Party school. Initially, temporary building renovations were made in order to be able to start the training immediately, but in the meantime the long-overdue modernisation work has commenced. New residential quarters have been created for the lecturers, but the seminarians are still living in overcrowded conditions. At present, four students must share a room of 15 square metres with no washing or toilet facilities. A total of 270 seminarians are currently residing in the house.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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