WASHINGTON -- Ukrainian Catholics in North America continue to struggle to develop ways to maintain their Ukrainian religious and ethnic identity amid a larger majority culture that beckons with the siren song of assimilation.

Published in International

ROME – The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church called on the international community to "stop the aggressor" in Ukraine's "forgotten conflict" and help the 1 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Published in International

Ste. Adele, Que. - The Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church told Canada’s bishops Sept. 25 Western secularism challenges Ukraine’s post-Communist future and underlies the worldwide economic crisis.

“The current economic crisis is merely the symptom of a much deeper spiritual and cultural crisis,” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual plenary. “As Western society rejects old moral structures and values, it finds that its moral GPS has no fixed and stationary points of reference.”

The first head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church to address the plenary, Shevchuk said the Church must find “new courage” to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to contemporary society to provide “an anchor and compass.”

“We live in societies where virtue and goodness are frequently a veneer for religious intolerance, personal gratification and moral decay,” he said. “Secularism would like us to be closed in a little box of Sunday worship.”

The former Soviet Union used that approach to religion, he said.

“Separation of Church and state has become separation of faith values from society, yet our mission is to preach the Word of God to all, and to be a constant sign of God’s loving presence through social ministry,” he said. “Let us not be afraid of the totalitarianism of political correctness and speak the truth regardless of whom we might offend, whether it is on same-sex marriage or on the genocide of abortion.”

He called to mind the suffering of his Church during the Communist era, that witnessed to Christ both “in the catacombs” as well in in open defiance to the regime.

“So many martyrs and confessors have suffered for the faith in the last century. Let their example and witness be an inspiration for all of us,” Shevchuk said.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is “experiencing a period of resurrection” in Ukraine, he said.

“Fully embracing its identity of being ‘Orthodox in faith and Catholic in love’ we are aware of our role in allowing the Catholic Church to breathe with both its lungs, East and West,” he said.

Ukraine is experiencing social and economic challenges and has changed dramatically even in five years, he said. The country seems “torn between old influences and new attempts to integrate with the broader European community.”

Contemporary Ukrainian society mistrusts government, politicians and civil institutions, but the Church, especially the Ukrainian Catholic Church, “holds great moral authority.”

“The majority of Ukrainian citizens do not identify with any of the existing Churches, but have a hunger for God and are open to the missionary work of the Church,” he said. “In such circumstances the experience of new evangelization, which we are gradually acquiring, may become a precious treasure, which we would hope to share with the entire Catholic Church.”

The Ukrainian Catholic Church is marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of her first bishop in Canada. Shevchuk had presided at a Synod of Bishops for the worldwide Ukrainian Catholic Church in Winnipeg the previous week to mark that centennial.

Published in Canada