The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), traveled to the Washington, D.C. earlier this month on an official visit that had both a diplomatic and a pastoral purpose.
The main reason for the journey of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Schevchuk was to attend the 62nd annual National Prayer Breakfast on February 4, at the invitation of Congress. During his stay in the U.S. he also had a series of meetings with national officials, politicians, and groups of Ukrainian Catholics.
The official visit happened to coincide with the annual “Ukrainian Day” on Wednesday, February 5, when Ukrainian-Americans traditionally meet with their elected representatives to promote the interests of their local communities and of their ancestral homeland. Speaking at a gathering of legislators who have large numbers of Ukrainian Americans in their constituencies, Shevchuk maintained that the protests in Ukraine are not politically partisan but rather concern the future of that country. He explained that all religious institutions in Ukraine support the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for change through constructive dialogue between the citizens and the national authorities. He called on the U.S. government to help negotiate an end to the present civil unrest in Ukraine.
The previous day, February 4, the Head of the UGCC, together with Patriarch Filaret, the Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kievan Patriarchate), and Ukrainian Americans of both Churches, celebrated a Moleben (prayer service) to the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace and justice in Ukraine at the monument to the poet Taras Shevchenko in Washington, D.C., which for decades has been a symbol of Ukrainian independence and a rallying point of the Ukrainian-American community.
On Sunday, February 9, His Beatitude Sviatoslav celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the faithful at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington, D.C. The following day, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy together with the priests and seminarians at the nearby Saint Josaphat Seminary, which forms the future clergy of the UGCC in the United States.
In a brief interview with Catholic News Service during his visit to the United States, the Head of the UGCC described the human-rights violations perpetrated by the Ukrainian government in its attempt to suppress pro-European demonstrations, and also the economic crisis in Ukraine, because of which many doctors, teachers, and elderly persons on pensions have gone for months without their checks. He asked Ukrainians to pray one Our Father and one Hail Mary every evening for the peaceful, non-violent resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.
Based on reports from Information Resource of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.