It’s a week since the Synod of Bishops concluded in the Vatican having spent many days examining the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.”
During that time, our General Secretary here at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Fr Christopher Thomas, caught up with Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, the Eparch of the Holy Family Eparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Great Britain.
Bishop Hlib was chosen by the Ukrainian Catholic Church, at its September synod meeting to attend alongside Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
What has been your impression of the work of the Synod over the last three weeks?
Bishop Lonchyna: The work was very intense and there were so many ideas. I have learnt a lot during this period of time. It was very interesting to hear the speeches, the ideas from different parts of the world.
You can see truly the catholicity of our Church. How the church is incarnated in different cultures, in different continents, in different countries and on the one hand, the Christian family, the basic family, is the same all over the world.
On the other hand you have so many differences and interesting details about family life and the joys and the sorrows, the problems that they go through, so that was very interesting to hear the different perspectives on family life.
What is your hope for the work of this synod and for the document that will be presented to the Holy Father so that he can generate an Apostolic Exhortation for us?
Bishop Lonchyna: I hope that this will be a true Gospel message of the family as it is in God’s plan and as the Lord wants us to foster in our individual churches.
I feel that there are not these extreme positions. We are slowly slowly entering into a phase where we can understand each other and we can accept the basic Catholic doctrine of the family.
Of course there are controversial subjects like the sacraments for the divorced and remarried – which is always a very painful subject – but, as one Cardinal said at the synod, we have to accept that there are problems that cannot be resolved and we just need to go ahead, and to be compassionate and to help people live their faith and most important to help people meet Jesus Christ in their lives.
Your Church in the Ukraine has been instrumental in supporting the people in the Ukraine in the very difficult situation you find yourself in. And certainly Cardinal Nichols sent a message of support to your Synod ensuring that you are not forgotten and that we are continuing to pray for the people of the Ukraine.
Bishop Lonchyna: And I want to tell you that this message was read at our Synod and it was very, very much appreciated.
Thank you Bishop.
Our web section on the Ordinary General Assembly of Synod on the Family
Website for the Bishops’ Conference Marriage and Family Life project work