Pope John Paul II Dies on April 2
Statement of Archbishop-Metropolitan

The Hierarchy, Clergy, Religious & Faithful of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North & South America & the Diaspora, in solidarity with Metropolitan Mefodiy and our UAOC bishops and faithful in Ukraine, mourn the death of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

For our Ukrainian People, the pope held a special significance, because of the common ancestry he shared with us. As many but not all are aware, John Paul II, Karol Wotlyla had a strong Ukrainian maternal lineage.

As the Church, the People of God, we will miss his strong and consistent defense of human life, in all its stages and circumstances.

As Eastern Christians, we will remember his love for the Churches of the East and his frequent associations with us.

As Ukrainian believers, members of an indigenous and free Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we will never forget the pastoral visit he made in 2001, the Divine Liturgies, meetings with hierarchs of both the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the UOC of the Kyivan Patriarchate and the recognition of many of our Blessed Martyrs of the Soviet-Russian yoke on the altars of the church.

To those of every religion and culture, the Holy Father was a symbol of the cause of freedom for each member of humankind. As people of good will, we will always remember his commitment to the right of liberty and justice for all.

Moreover, we are reminded of John Paul II's words to the world on the day of his election, October 16, 1978. We remember the Holy Father encouraging everyone to "open the doors to Christ" and to "Be not afraid." His openness has had a profound effect not only on the Catholic Church but on society as a whole.

When we "look to Christ," (Madison Square Garden, 1979), as the Pope insisted, we focus more on the unity and shared experience of the human race and emphasize that commonality rather than division, in our every day lives. For John Paul II, unity between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches was a priority for which he strived in both word and deed. Our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is one that remains committed to the promotion of that ideal on both the local and universal levels.

I join His Beatitude, Metropolitan MEFODIY, spiritual head and father of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, our entire Council of Hierarchs and all of our beloved people, in praying that Pope John Paul II may indeed have blessed repose. We also pray for an eternal memory in the hearts of all people, of his soul, his life and the many spiritual lessons to be learned therein.

Special condolences are offered to His Beatitude, Cardinal Archbishop-Major, LUBOMYR and our brothers and sisters of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, on this great void that will be left by the Pope's passing.



April 2, 2005

c. 2005
Press Service of the UAOC of N & S America

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