The annual meeting of the Eastern Catholic Bishops in Europe is to take place this year in London (Great Britain), at the invitation of His Grace Mgr Hlib Lonchyna, Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Exarchate for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic faithful in Great Britain. The Exarchate was elevated to the status of an Eparchy in 2003.
This year, as the focus of their meeting, the Bishops of the continent’s Eastern Catholic Churches will discuss the proclamation of the gospel of Christ, its deepening and its celebration. The choice of theme was dictated by the numerous challenges, such as the phenomenon of the migration of many of Eastern Catholics to regions and countries of different Christian traditions or denominations; the challenges of an individualistic and marked oriented culture which sees religion as a mere product to be consumed etc. The Eastern Catholic Churches have been trying to respond to those challenges through the re-discovery of some elements proper to their Eastern tradition.
“Today, in Europe, there are many people who are distant from religion”, said Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, before continuing: “Christianity, which for centuries has driven and inspired the lives of whole generations of the continent’s citizens, is today too often seen simply in its institutional form and as a constricting totality of precepts and rules to be followed. Instead, there is a need to facilitate the re-discovery of the beauty of the personal and community encounter with Christ. For this reason, the Church believes it to be her duty and mission to proclaim the gospel of Christ, the good news of a God who out of love for humankind became man, died and rose (Kerygma), to every person, to help them understand and deepen their relationship with and knowledge of Christ (Catechesis) and lead them to living and celebrating their own faith through a sacramental life (Mystagogia). This has been and today still is the mission of the Church, and in this mission the Eastern Catholic Churches – and among them, the Greek-Catholic Church – have a specific contribution to make”.
The meeting will begin in the late afternoon of 26th October with an inaugural session. This session will include a presentation of the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, as well as interventions by the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, and by a representative of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Working sessions will follow, during which the Eastern Catholic Bishops will examine the three aspects of the evangelising mission of the Church (proclamation, catechesis and celebration of the sacraments). The programme and the themes for the interventions are accessible on the CCEE website (www.ccee.eu).
The meeting, attended by Bishops and clergy representing 12 Eastern Catholic Churches in Europe (the list is below) will be marked by the daily celebration of the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist) in different Eastern Rites, as testimony to the riches of the various liturgical traditions in the Catholic Church. On Saturday 28th October, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, will preside at a Pontifical Divine Liturgy at Westminster Cathedral. The event is hosted by His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and CCEE Vice-President, who will deliver the homily.
The meeting is co-organised and facilitated by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and will be attended by the Secretary of the Vatican dicastery for the care of the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Cyril Vasil’.
The meeting will end on Sunday 29th October with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile.