ENCYCLICAL OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS OF THE MAJOR ARCHBISHOPRIC OF KYIV-HALYCH OF THE UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH CONCERNING THE DANGER OF GENDER IDEOLOGY

Gender

Dearly Beloved in Christ!

Introduction

  1. In the twentieth century, the people of Ukraine suffered from a godless Soviet regime that attempted to forcefully tear people from the roots of faith and impose an atheistic worldview. Presented as the only “scientific” one, this worldview denied human persons’ freedom of conscience and deprived them of the right to freely profess their religious beliefs. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world stands before similar challenges, which, however, are not accompanied by open and bloody persecution, but rather are served by hidden ideological means of destroying Christian faith and morality, as well as universal human values. Some of these challenges relate to areas of human sexuality and family life, and are not new to Ukraine; rather, they are accented or presented in public consciousness in a new manner. Others are entirely new and even far removed from the Ukrainian context, but certain forces are attempting to artificially impose them upon us.
  2. In particular, gender theories are a significant threat today, attempting to destroy the perception of human sexuality as a gift from God that is naturally linked to the biological differences between man and woman, as well as introducing a dangerous disorder to human relationships and attacking the foundations of interpersonal communication. The concepts of human dignity and freedom are undergoing extensive manipulation and the true meaning of these essential moral categories is being displaced and distorted. All these efforts are being implemented very actively, systematically, and thoughtfully, using political expediency and populist slogans. However, their true nature and purpose remain hidden from the public. As a result, Ukrainian society—sensitive to asserting its dignity and freedom—is in danger of thoughtlessly accepting as truth questionable atheistic theories founded in attempts to affirm human dignity, to achieve equality among people, to defend the human right to freedom, and so on.
  3. Under these circumstances, the Church-Mother seeks by means of this Encyclical to warn the faithful and all people of good will of the threats that are hidden behind gender ideology and similar worldview systems, and recall the traditional biblical, Christian, and universal values upon which interpersonal relationships and the way of organizing social life are based.

  1. Human Dignity in God’s Plan
  2. The whole history of salvation attests to the incredible love of God for the human person. From the very first pages of Holy Scripture we learn about the extraordinary greatness of the human person. While everything else arose from only one word of God, Church tradition speaks of a Divine “meeting” that preceded the creation of the human person: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26). Particular attention should be given to the phrase “in our image, after our likeness.” This is the basis of the concept of human dignity, which in the New Testament is emphasized in the Incarnation of the Son of God in human nature. The image of God is integral to the natural dignity and spiritual beauty of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death. This is a common feature of all people that reflects their equal and infinite value.
  3. The image of God is the foundation of not only personal uniqueness, but also the human community: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26–27). Therefore, the “communion of the persons of the Trinity is the prototype of the human community.”[1]Pope Francis, commenting on this verse of Holy Scripture, says that “marriage is the most beautiful creation of God” because “man and woman, who become one flesh, are the image of God.”[2]“Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God. Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way.”[3] The catechism Christ – Our Pascha, interpreting the biblical story of the creation of man and woman, says: “The image of the Most Holy Trinity in human community is the natural unity of human community that exists within the communion of the love between Adam and Eve. Complementing one another physically, psychologically, and spiritually, Adam and Eve are different, but at the same time, equal persons. In the wonderful image of Eve’s creation from the ‘rib of Adam’ (cf. Gen. 2:21), Holy Scripture describes the equality and difference between the man and the woman, who form the first community. Adam professes Eve to be his own: ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman” (Gen. 2:23). Adam embraces Eve as person, his equal and simultaneously his companion for life (cf. Gen. 2:24).”[4] The Church teaches that “created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.”[5]
  4. Sexuality, as a gift to be man or woman (cf. Gen. 1:27) given by God during creation, integrally covers all the natural dimensions of existence of the human person: body, soul, and spirit. A person is called to accept God’s plan for themselves as expressed in their sex—because sex does not depend on human choice—and to embody it in their lives. Sexuality can only be comprehended in light of the Christian understanding of love as a vocation to the communion of persons and the self-giving of one person to another. “In marital life, a man and a woman open themselves to God through mutual love, which becomes the foundation of their indissoluble union, fidelity, and fruitfulness. In the virginal state of consecrated life, sexuality is transfigured in the Holy Spirit in order to serve God and one’s neighbour in love for the sake of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Matt. 19:12). Any selfish exploitation of another person as a means for obtaining sexual pleasure contradicts God’s gift of love, deforms the essence of sexuality, and deeply wounds the person.”[6]
  5. God subjects the earth and all that fills it (cf. Gen. 1:26,28) to the human person. This is why human beings are God’s greatest creation, which has a special vocation and mission in the world.[7]The Psalmist describes the greatness and dignity of the human person: “For I will look at the heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you fixed. What is man that you remember him? Or the son of man that you visit him? You have made him a little less than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honour, and set him over the works of your hands.

You have subjected all things under his feet…” (cf. Ps. 8:4–9). And St. John of Damascus, a Father of the Church, emphasizes that God created man as “a sort of second microcosm within the great world, another angel…king over the things of earth, but subject to a higher king, of the earth and of the heaven, temporal and eternal, belonging to the realm of sight and to the realm of thought, midway between greatness and lowliness, spirit and flesh…becomes deified by merely inclining himself towards God; becoming deified, in the way of participating in the divine glory and not in that of a change into the divine being.”[8]

  1. In God’s plan, the human person, created in the image of God, is appointed for eternal communion with the Creator. As St. Gregory of Nyssa says, “the purpose of a virtuous life is to become like God.”[9]With the Lord’s grace, a person reaches the height of its capabilities in likeness to God through “divinization” (theosis).[10]The Apostle Paul describes the outlook and purpose of human growth: “…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Every human person in its growth toward the fullness of God’s likeness is an absolutely unique and inimitable individual. This inimitableness is caused by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who endows each of us with special personal gifts, talents, abilities, and disposition. Thus, the equality of all people in their dignity is at the same time inextricably linked to the uniqueness of each human person.
  2. One of the features inherent in God’s image in the human person is free will, by which it can freely choose the good; however, it is also able to choose another way: “The most profound dimension of human freedom consists in being able to freely choose God and to be with him. This is the good. Yet with this same freedom, we can also reject our relationship with God—and this is evil.”[11]“The devil in Paradise lured Adam with a vain hope for divinization, proposing that he consider the measure of goodness resides not in God but within himself…The deceit of the Evil One is based on the premise that God is deceiving humankind with his commandment, thereby undercutting their freedom…”[12]From the biblical account of the fall of the progenitors, we conclude that a sinful choice has serious consequences for the person—the loss of paradise as a state of blessed communion and life with God and other creatures (cf. Gen. 3:4–14). The sin of the progenitors also obscured the truth about the human person as the image of God. Since then, human nature has also been marred by sin. The brokenness caused by sin continues in history, appearing in a variety of abuses in the area of ​​sexuality.
  3. But God so loved man that he did not abandon him, he did not take away from him his high calling even after the fall, but is constantly looking for him: “Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen.3:9). Because of the fall, man’s movement toward God ceases, but God does not cease his movement toward man. Evidence of this is the history of salvation, as reflected in the Old Testament. Direct restoration of this movement was accomplished in the New Testament through Christ, who “gave himself as an exchange to death, by which we had been held captive, sold under sin. And when He had descended through the Cross into Hades, so that He might fill all things with Himself, He loosed the pangs of death. And rising on the third day and making a way for all flesh to the resurrection of the dead….”[13]
  4. Thus, the dignity and worth of man lies in the truth of his creation “in the image and likeness of God,” in its superiority over all creation and comprehension of the divine vocation to holiness. God’s likeness, in which man was created, points to the dynamism of his vocation. The dignity of man requires that he act not under the influence of instinctive impulses or external coercion, but under a conscious and free choice and mature personal convictions. This is reached when one is freed from the bondage of passions and aims for his goal, freely choosing good and using appropriate means for it.[14]

  1. The Concept of Gender
  2. Human sexuality is, as already mentioned, a natural gift of God and precisely through it we discover the joy of being co-creators. However, the very vulnerable area of ​​sexuality and marriage today belongs to the most manipulated aspects of human existence. The constant temptation to violate God’s statutes in this area is one of the consequences of the fall of our progenitors (cf. Gen. 3). Man abuses the possibility of a free choice when trying to “become free” of traditional values ​​in the area of ​​sexuality and married life, falsely treating them as some archaisms and obstacles to equality, dignity, and freedom. Some believe that obstacle to be biological sex, perceiving difference of sexes as the cause of societal degradation and violation of rights, the precondition for sexual violence in the family and outside it (by men against women). Instead, it should be remembered that the cause of these and other such societal problems is not sexuality itself, but its distorted perception and understanding.
  3. Over the course of millennia, humankind has recognized the existence of two sexes based on biological criteria—male and female. Recently, worldviews that are contrary to the Christian faith, objective scientific reality, and natural law have become widespread and influential, namely theories of gender. Their basis is the distinction between biological sex, given to the person from conception, and gender, a certain personal choice of sexual behaviour. Consequently, gender identity is no longer considered a gift from God, but rather declared a matter of individual choice for each person. The person ”no longer understands its deep calling to eternal love, but considers it as a temporary diversion.”[15]While sexual identity is based on a biological, psycho-physical reality, gender identity abandons binary gender (male or female) in favour of a broad and free range of self-identification. Thus, sex is a natural phenomenon, whereas gender is the reality of psychological self-understanding often caused by social influence. Gender ideology insists that a person is free to choose and implement their sexual identity regardless of their biological sex. Such separation and opposition of sex and gender is dangerous, because it distorts the traditional foundations of society based on divine and natural law.
  4. The concept of gender is constantly changing and transforming. If initially it was “constructed” in opposition to biological sex, indicating that a person could choose a gender (social) role of man or woman regardless of being physiologically male or female, it is now claimed that not only does biological sex not influence the choice of social role, but the public role of man or woman is not necessary. Because gender is entirely separated from binary biological sex, it can be determined by any differences in behaviour, biological characteristics, psychological characteristics, sexual drive or desire, and so on. The human person is understood as a kind of “incorporeal freedom” that is its own creator and constructs its own identity, including its physicality in sexual terms, as a tool for getting the most pleasure with the least responsibility.
  5. This “theory” implies that everyone can have a gender based on a unique combination of characteristics, freely defined and given by that person itself. Gender can supposedly be chosen. Therefore, people are likely to choose one that matches their biological sex. But one can also choose a different one. The person is given the offer not to limittheir biological sex to man or woman, or even the social role of man or woman, but instead to choosetheir gender and gender role from the plurality of possibilities (various gender ideologues identify from a few to dozens of such roles, for example, heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, androgynous, bigender, agender, etc.). Thus it is not being someone that determines, but acting in the role of someone. In addition, gender is declared not as a static reality but a dynamic one that can be repeatedly changed throughout the course of one’s life. The consequence of such erroneous thinking is the conclusion that supposedly one can freely choose the ways of one’s own sexual life.
  6. Of particular concern is the fact that gender ideologies are not just virtual worldview systems—they are aggressively imposed on public opinion, gradually introduced in legislation, and made ever more forcefully visible in different spheres of human life, especially in education and upbringing. “If these ideas circulated only in theory, they would not go beyond the right to private opinion and the possible existence of different philosophical views. The danger lies in the fact that such anti-human theories are trying to become the ruling ideology and be put into practice, sometimes by means of international pressures on the global community.”[16]Pope Francis states that “today a world war is being wagged to destroy marriage,” referring to the theory of gender as “destructive ideological colonization.”[17]That which was until recently considered sexual deviation is today proclaimed by gender theorists as not only normal, but as a rule of life to be followed under pain of ridicule, censure, and even punishment.
  7. Therefore, at its present stage of development, gender theory begins to acquire the characteristics of totalitarian ideology and is similar to those utopian ideologies that in the twentieth century not only promised to create paradise on earth, supposedly building true equality between people, but also tried to forcibly introduce their own way of thinking, eradicating any alternative point of view. The tragic history of the twentieth century has shown us what such ideologies that promise “happiness to all humanity” turn into.

III. Destructive Outcomes of Gender Ideology

  1. Gender theories envision the complete denial of human nature and natural moral law, with the result that the concept of human identity is steadily destroyed. Pope Benedict XVI confirms: “What is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ ultimately ends up being man’s attempt at self-emancipation from creation and the Creator. Man wants to be his own master, and alone—always and exclusively—to determine everything that concerns him. Yet in this way he lives in opposition to the truth, in opposition to the Creator Spirit.”[18]Supporting gender theory, a person rejects the idea that his or her gender is granted by God and doubts the fact that God created people as male and female (cf. Gen. 1:27).
  2. Gender theory denies the existence of human beings created as men and women, claiming that only the person has the ability of self-creation (self-transformation) into man, woman, or some other being. Therefore, it is not God, but the person who is proclaimed creator of man, woman, or some other being. Officially declaring the desire for equality, gender ideological systems in reality strive for uniformity. We should remember that equality should not be confused with uniformity. It is diversity that is the basis of equality, while uniformity is the basis for smoothing and unifying unique and specific natural traits and signs that are attractive to the sexes. Objecting to biological sex blurs the notion of humanity, which is expressed in masculinity or femininity; rather, sexuality gives the opportunity to build genuine social equality. One cannot simply be a human being—a human being is always either man or woman.
  3. Gender ideology, which denies the existence of objective human nature, the complementarity of man and woman, and the values of marriage, actually denies the existence of the Creator and negates the truth of humans in his image. In such ideologies, there is no place for God, and therefore there is no place for the person in their uniqueness and dignity, because human uniqueness is grounded in its connection with the Creator. The biblical doctrine of the person, created by God, emphasizes the greatness and dignity of its origin and calling—from God and eternal life with him in holiness (divinization), while, according to gender theory, the person has a base origin and lowly potential—from itself and for temporary life, with a goal of its own pleasure. Therefore, one can say with conviction that gender theory is destructive and anti-human.
  4. In addition to the fact that gender ideology clearly contradicts the teaching of Holy Scripture and Christian anthropology, it also does not correspond to objective scientific data, and is instead based on subjective hypotheses and pseudoscientific assertions made by interested parties. Objective researchers have concluded that gender ideologues ignore results of scientific research, medicine, psychology, anthropology, and bioethics that show the difference between men and women is based on the difference between the structure of the brain, hormonal balance, psychological nature…
  5. Gender ideology denies the most obvious anthropological reality: people are born male and female, and the natural complementarity of the gifts of the two sexes is an extraordinary richness for all of humanity, which gives hope for progress. Promoting vague and undefined ideas of “gender identity” creates a dangerous psychological instability that leads to absurd conflicts between bodily and psychological sexuality, which naturally stems from the physical.
  6. Gender theories destroy the concept of family as a community of husband and wife in which children are born and brought up. Adherents of this theory believe that the traditional family—which is based on divine and natural law, expresses the dignity of the human person, and is the foundation of fundamental rights and obligations[19]—is only one possible form of family. And they suggest calling unions of people with different mixes of genders, in which to be a parent means simply to perform a certain role, equivalent to the traditional family.
  7. Gender ideology promotes many forms of sexual identity and behavior that do not at all correspond to human nature. That is why gender theories lead to promiscuity and further demoralization of society. Such a situation leads to disappointment, anger, and the self-destruction of the human race, because its natural foundations and principles are undermined.

  1. Proclaiming the Truth of Christ in the Context of an Expanding Gender Ideology
  2. Ukrainian society is generally not acquainted with gender theories and this permits gender ideology to be quietly and insidiously imposed upon it. Indeed, the promotion and dissemination of this ideology is carried out covertly on various levels – in legislation, information, education, upbringing…. At the same time, indisputable facts about the dangers of gender ideology for mental and physical health, particularly among children and young people—to say nothing of the undermining of the very fundamentals of human and family life that come with such theories—are deliberately passed over in silence.
  3. In such circumstances, the Church issues a call to deeply and carefully assess the challenges in the field of sexuality and married life, not succumbing to social pressure in these important matters, and to defend human dignity and freedom. We strive to call to mind the truth regarding every human person’s dignity, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, age, health, etc., that the Church of Christ has constantly and consistently proclaimed for centuries. Christians are called to bring to today’s world the truth about the dignity of the human being created in the image and likeness of God, about the dignity of marriage as a union of love between a man and a woman, and about the dignity of man and woman as they complement each other. We must deepen our knowledge of Holy Scripture and Tradition so that we can grow in faith and so that we know how to argue the Christian position in a secular environment. A Christian cannot afford to live a double life, but must consistently and persistently imitate Christ, embodying in their daily life God’s teaching and God’s laws, which are the only source of genuine human happiness, genuine dignity and freedom. As the Apostle Paul writes: “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you…was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes” (2 Cor. 1:19–20). We cannot rely on God in some cases, and ignore His commandments and precepts in others. We are called to witness to Christ in all the dimensions of our being. This applies to the private realm, family life, professional activity, the public sphere, political activism, and so on.
  4. All people of good will should work together to defend the dignity of each person, to affirm their natural and God-given characteristics and freedoms, and also for the full protection and development of the family community on the foundation of God’s revelation, which is the real guarantor of human society’s development and worthy future. “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual differenceand complementarityare oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.”[20] At the same time, it is necessary to show greater vigilance and responsibility in order to prevent the spread of pernicious theories, which are the latest forms of ideological enslavement and destruction of the person, the family, and society as a whole.
  5. It is necessary to delve into the essence of every matter and to recognize the true purpose of certain proposals or appeals, without letting oneself be deceived by that which is presented under the banner of an illusory dignity and freedom, or announced as “necessary steps” to implement a particular geopolitical course of the state. We have to remember that “the state cannot fulfil its functions if it violates the dignity of the individual and the moral principles of society.”[21]A human being cannot betray their vocation and destroy human dignity for the sake of dubious social or political projects, even if these projects are presented as a sign of “progress” and “modernity.” The Catechism of the UGCC Christ — Our Paschateaches that “the criterion of the lawfulness of state power is its conformity to the Lord’s law. When state authority loses its legitimacy through its lack of conformity to God’s law, the people have a right to resist such a government and to oppose it. The Christian is bound to follow divine law even in difficult circumstances: ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority’ (Acts 5:29).”[22]

Conclusion

  1. The Lord calls people to salvation and the fullness of happiness, giving his Commandments as a guide on our earthly journey. We call the UGCC faithful and all people of good will to value and protect human dignity in the face of new ideological challenges and threats. Each of us is called to this, no matter what our position in society. For this reason:
  • we call to mind that “individuals should be endowed with this virtue [of chastity] according to their state in life: for some it will mean virginity or celibacy consecrated to God…. For others it will take the form determined by the moral law, according to whether they are married or single,”[23] and therefore should be properly and responsibly prepare for the choice of their state of life, based on the solid foundation of faith, morality, and divine and natural law;
  • we encourage parents to lead a good Christian life that will be an example for their children. Please take care of the Christian education of future generations, not only by transmitting the foundations of faith, but also through all manner of encouragement that they live a life in Christ and by warning them against the dangers of the false exercise of one’s free choice. Parents “are called to be gentle and wise guides. It is they who must lead the child on its path of discovering God’s gift of sexuality in himself or herself, revealing its nature and meaning in a manner appropriate to the age, needs, and depth of the child’s inquiry”;[24]
  • we appeal to workers in the field of medicine, remembering that “the most important point of a physician’s oath is to serve human life from the moment of conception and to defend its health,”[25] to promote the dissemination of a culture of life, defending in particular the life of unborn children and the elderly or terminally ill;
  • we ask everyone, especially those working in the fields of information and education, to defend and disseminate traditional moral values ​​regarding ​​sexuality and the family, remembering that “nothing can justify recourse to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media”;[26]
  • we ask all who are responsible for developing educational curricula to prepare them on the basis of natural and divine law, respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man,[27] avoiding any propaganda against sexual purity, marital fidelity, and the true identity of the human person;
  • we call upon scientists to remember that science and technology should recognize the basic criteria of morality and be “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, of his true and integral good, in conformity with the plan and the will of God,”[28] and also encourage them to use available means to demonstrate the truth about gender ideology and other destructive ideologies, and point to the importance of adhering to traditional moral and ethical foundations;
  • we remind pastors of their sacred duty to care for the spiritual condition of the family—a community of love and a “domestic church” (cf. Rom 16:51 Cor 16:19Col. 4:15Phil. 1:2Eph. 5:19Col. 3:161 Tim. 2:8) that is “the primary cell of the Christian community” and “a school of social solidarity”[29] on which a healthy society is built. We also encourage them to accompany families at all stages of their existence, from preparation for married life, through support for young couples, diligent catechesis of families, and special care of families who are experiencing difficulties or crises. In addition, we ask pastors, while maintaining the teachings of the Church and observing a high level of spiritual and psychological maturity, to pay attention to pastoral work with people who have problems with the definition of their own sexual identity;[30]
  • we call upon all people of good will, especially government officials and legislators, to be vigilant that the legislation of Ukraine not give way to implementing uncertain and untested concepts of human identity or family, or principles of gender education, remembering that “the ruling authority has as its aim to serve the common good, to preserve and protect the natural and true freedom of citizens, families, and community organizations.”[31] Legislation will only be firm and unshakable when it is based not on temporary and dubious theories, but on the natural law affirmed by divine revelation.
  1. We invite all to pray that God help us all to live according to his commandments, trusting in his Divine Providence and not succumbing to the temptations of opposing his will. The Lord, having created human beings as “male and female,” looked at them and said that it was very good (Gen. 1:27,31). May he embrace each person and family in his loving and life-giving gaze, confirm us all in his truth and love, and send down upon all his Fatherly blessing!

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the Major Archbishopric of Kyiv-Halych of the UGCC

† SVIATOSLAV

Given in Kyiv
at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ,
on the day of the holy martyrs Plato and Roman,
1 December (O.S. 18 November) 2016 A.D.

NOTES:

[1] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 132.

[2] “Indifesa delmatrimonio. L’appello durantela visita alla chiesa dell’Assunta a Tbilisi,” L’Osservatore Romano (3-4 October 2016), 6.

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2334–2335. Cf. Familiaris consortio, § 22; Gaudium et spes, § 49; Mulieris dignitatem, § 6.

[4] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 133–134.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 1934.

[6] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 862–863

[7] Cf. Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 118–120.

[8] St. John Damascene, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 2, Chapter 12 (“On Man”); NPNF 9:31.

[9] St. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Beatitudes, 1; PG 44:1199C.

[10] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, §§ 124 and 127.

[11] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 137.

[12] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 145–146.

[13] Anaphora of St. Basil the Great.

[14] Gaudium et spes, § 17

[15] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).

[16] Joint Declaration of the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine Concerning the New Ideological Captivity of our Nation (25 November 2015).

[17] Cf. “Indifesa delmatrimonio. L’appello durantela visita alla chiesa dell’Assunta a Tbilisi,” L’Osservatore Romano (3-4 October 2016), 6.

[18] Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia (22 December 2008), § 1: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2008/december/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20081222_curia-romana.html.

[19] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, §§ 1978–1979.

[20] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2333.

[21] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 959.

[22] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 960

[23] Persona humana (29 December 1975), § 11.

[24] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 865.

[25] Theological Department of the Patriarchal Curia of the UGCC, Defending Conceived Life: Theological, Moral-Ethical, and Pastoral Principles of the Moral Evaluation of the Problem of Destroying Unborn Children (Kyiv, 2012), § 71.

[26] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2498.

[27] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2526.

[28] Catechism of the Catholic Church, § 2294.

[29] Catechism of the UGCC, Christ – Our Pascha, § 656.

[30] Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1 October 1986), § 6: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

[31] Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, How to Build a Native Home? (1942), § 7.

 

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Pentecost

“We have seen the true light, we have received the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the trite faith, we worship the undivided Trinity, for It has saved us.” (Stichera of Vespers of the Feast of the Pentecost) The glorious feast of the Resurrection concludes with a feast also most glorious and great — and that is, the feast of the Pentecost. After the Nativity and Resurrection of our Lord this feast belongs to the greatest feasts in the Ecclesiastical Year. The Descent of the Holy Spirit is, as it were, the seal on the work of the salvation of the human race accomplished by the Son of God. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit himself anoints the Apostles as preachers of the Good News of Christ. On this day the Church was born and began to function. The Holy Spirit ever guides, enlightens, sanctifies and preserves her on the path of truth. “When the work the Father gave to the Son to do on earth was accomplished,” says The Vatican Council, “the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of the Pentecost in order that He might continually sanctify the Church, and thus all those who believe would have access through Christ in one Spirit to the Father… The Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful, as in a temple. In them, He prays on their behalf and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons… By the power of the Gospel He makes the Church keep the freshness of youth. Uninterruptedly, He renews it and leads it to perfect union with its Spouse.” (Constitution on the Church, §4) The holy feast of Pentecost deserves our special attention because of its history, liturgy, and significance.

The Old Testament Pentecost

The Jewish people in ancient times celebrated three great feasts annually: the feast of the Passover, the feast of the Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles. In the Book of Exodus we read: “Three times every year you shall celebrate feasts to me. You shall keep the feast of the unleavened bread. You shall keep the feast of the harvest of the first-fruits of your work, whatsoever you have sown in the field, and the feast also in the end of the year, when you have gathered in all your crops out of the field.” (Exodus 23,14-16) The feast takes its name from the fiftieth day after the feast of the Passover, and also from the fiftieth day from the beginning of the harvest. Pentecost is a Greek word which means “the fiftieth day”. Originally, Pentecost was a feast of harvest and thanksgiving. On that day, according to the prescription of the law, great crowds of Jews would flock to Jerusalem even from distant lands, to render thanks to the Lord for the fruits of the earth and to make an offering of these fruits in the temple. Later, the Jews connected the feast of Pentecost as a feast of the harvest with an event in the history of Israel, in this case, with the anniversary of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai on the fiftieth day after their departure from Egypt.

The Christian Pentecost

The Apostles and first Christians retained from the Old Testament the feast of the Passover as well as the feast of the Pentecost. They also preserved the name, Pentecost, because, for them, it was also the fiftieth day after the Pasch (Resurrection); however, they attached to it an altogether different significance. The principal motive for celebrating Pentecost in the Church of the New Testament was the event of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Thus, this feast is also called the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit or the day of the Holy Trinity. The Descent of the Holy Spirit was, for the primitive Christian Church, such a joyous, solemn and significant occasion, that they placed this feast on the same level with the feasts of the Resurrection and the Nativity of Christ. The celebration of this feast, like the feast of the Resurrection, in time, was extended to an entire week, during which the faithful also enjoyed the privilege of Free Days. In the third century, this feast became universally known. The service, honoring this feast, was composed in the eighth century by St. John Damascene and St. Cosmas of Maiuma. The liturgy of this day is full of joy and praise of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity.’ ‘Come all you nations,” we sing in the stichera from the Vespers service of this feast, “let us worship the Divinity in Three Persons, the Son in the Father with the Holy Spirit. The Father from eternity had begotten the Son, co-eternal and co-reigning with him; and the Holy spirit was in the Father, glorified with the Son — one Power, one Being, one Substance, one Godhead, which we all worship, saying: ‘Holy God — who created everything through the Son with help of the Holy Spirit; Holy Mighty One — through whom we knew the Father, and through whom the Holy Spirit came to the world; Holy Immortal One — Spirit, Comforter, who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son, О Holy Trinity, glory be to you”‘. In the Matins service, at the Sticheras of Praises, we praise the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Spirit was, is and always will be. He is without beginning and without end, equal in essence with the Father and with the Son. He is life and the giver of life; he is light and the giver of light, he is all good and the fountain of all goodness…”

The following well-known prayer to the Holy Spirit from the service of the Pentecost found its way into our daily prayers: “Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life, come and dwell in us and cleanse us of all stain and save our souls, О Good One.” All our church services begin with this prayer. The Church of the Old Testament had a custom on the feast of Pentecost of covering the floor of their homes and synagogues with fresh grass and adorning their homes and synagogues with the branches of trees and with flowers as a sign that, when the Law of God was given at Mount Sinai, all nature was in bloom. Presumably, the Apostles also observed this custom and decorated the upper room with greenery and flowers. This custom was also taken over by the Church of the New Testament. From this custom, Pentecost received another name namely, “Green Sunday”. Flowers and greens are a sign of life and therefore became a symbol of the life-giving Spirit. Just as nature in springtime is renewed with greens aand flowers, so too, holy Church and her faithful are renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. On the Monday following the feast of the Pentecost, our Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Pentecost commemorates the event itself of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, while Monday is dedicated to paying special worship to the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity. In regard to this special worship, the Monday Synaxary says: “On this day, i.e., the Monday of Pentecost, we honor that all-holy and life-giving and all-powerful Spirit, one God in the Holy Trinity, one in dignity, one in nature, and one in glory with the Father and with the Son… Out of deep reverence for the all-holy Spirit the Holy Fathers decreed that a separate feast be celebrated also during the Pentecost, in honor of Him who is the author of all that is good.”

The Synods of Zamost and Lviv, when listing all the feasts, call this day the feast of the Holy Trinity. The Typicon of Father I. Dolnytsky calls this day simply the Monday of the Pentecost, and says that, on this day, the entire service of the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit is used and “in the Divine Liturgy the service of the feast of the Holy Trinity may also be used, if one desires.” He noted that neither the Greek nor the Slavonic typicons, except for our Sluzhebnyks (Uturgikons = Missals), have this service, which must be celebrated only in churches dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Since the Middle Ages the Latin  Church keeps the feast of the Holy Trinity on the eighth day after the Pentecost, that is, on our Sunday of All Saints. Prince Maximilian, a Roman Catholic priest, in his “Lectures on the Eastern Liturgies”, says that “Ukrainian Catholics, imitating the Latin Church, celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity on the Monday after the Pentecost (p. 99). Actually, the feast of the Pentecost, properly speaking, is the feast of the Holy Trinity, as is evident from the name and the content of the service of that day.

The Vespers service of Monday merits special attention. Ordinarily it is not performed on Sunday evening, but immediately after the Divine Liturgy around noontime on the very day of the Pentecost. The linking of the Vespers service with the Divine Liturgy is explained by Father I. Dolnytsky as an opportunity for the faithful who are present at the Divine Liturgy to take part in the prayers which are read while kneeling. This Vespers service, characterized by three special prayers of a penitential nature were allegedly composed by St. Basil the Great (f379). The Byzantine Canonist Matthew Blastares (14th c.) testifies in his Nomocanon that St. Basil the Great also directed that these prayers be said while kneeling, as a sign of great respect for the Holy Spirit,

The Significance of the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit

The event of the descent of the Holy Spirit was most fruitful in its effects and had great significance for the Apostles and the first Christians; it has this same significance for the whole Church everywhere and always. St. John Chrysostom in his homily on the feast of the Pentecost says: “The all gracious God today bestowed upon us gifts, too great to be adequately expressed in words. Therefore, let us all rejoice together, and while rejoicing, let us praise our God… For I ask, what was given to us for our salvation that was not given to us by the Holy Spirit? He freed us from slavery, adopted and called us to the freedom of the children of God. From this fountain (i.e. the Holy Spirit) flow prophecies, the grace of healing, and all the other gifts and fruits with which the Church is wont to adorn herself.” In the sticheras of the Great Vespers service of Pentecost we read: “The Holy Spirit is the giver of all gifts. He pours forth prophecies, perfects the priesthood, teaches wisdom to the illiterate, and transforms fishermen into theologians; he brings together into one community the entire Church of God. О Comforter, one with the Father in nature and coreigning with Him, glory to you.” “Through the Holy Spirit,” says St. Basil the Great, “our return to paradise is achieved, we are elevated to the heavenly kingdom, and become once more the children of God. Through Him we are able to call God, Father; we are able to become partakers of the grace ot Jesus Christ, to be called children of light, and to share in everlasting glory…” (On the Holy Spirit, ch. 15)

The Holy Spirit bestowed upon the Apostles the gift of tongues, the gift of understanding the Scriptures, and the gift of fortitude in preaching and professing the holy faith. “On the day of Pentecost,” says the Second Vatican Council, “the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples to remain with them forever. The Church was publicly displayed to the multitude, the Gospel began to spread among the nations by means of preaching, and there was presaged that union of all peoples in the catholicity of the faith by means of the Church of the New Covenant, a Church which speaks all tongues, understands and accepts all tongues in her love…” (On Mission Activity of the Church, p. 4) The gifts of the Holy Spirit are truly numerous and great. St. Paul speaks of them in his letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, faith, modesty, continency.” (Gal. 5,22-23) The Holy Spirit has also descended upon us with his gifts in the Sacrament of Confirmation and he has anointed us as soldiers of Christ and made our bodies His temples. St. Paul reminds us of this great truth, admonishes and exhorts us to live accordingly: “Do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear Him in your body.”(I Cor. 6,19-20)

A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year 1992, Toronto, Julian J. Katrij, OSBM,

translated by Fr. Demetrius E. Wysochansky,OSBM

His Beatitude Cardinal Lubomyr Husar passed into the Lord

On May 31, 2017 after a serious illness His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar, Archbishop Emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church died at the age of 85. He was a highly respected priest, Bishop, Cardinal and moral authority for many in Ukraine and in the world.

He was born in Lviv, Ukraine in 1933. In 1944 he fled with his family to Austria then to the United States. In the USA he entered St. Basil’s College Seminary and after years of study, was ordained a priest in 1958 in Stamford Eparchy. In 1969, Fr. Lubomyr went to Rome, where he earned a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology. After the years of pastoral, teaching position at the seminary and earning academic degree, he joined the Ukrainian Studite monastic community in 1974.

He was consecrated a bishop in 1977 in the Studion monastery chapel in Castelgandolfo by Patriarch Josyf Cardinal Slipyj. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he returned to Ukraine and served as spiritual director of the newly re-established Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv.

In January of 2001, the Synod elected him the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Later he was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

For a decade he served as the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church visiting all of the eparchies of our Church. When he felt that his health and especially when he started  to loose his eye sight, he resigned from his office which was accepted February 10, 2011. His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk was chosen to succeed Lubomyr and his election was confirmed March 25, 2011.

Under his leadership the see of Kyiv-Halych was officially transferred from Lviv to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and the construction of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection began.

Cardinal Husar remained active in ecclesial and social life of Ukraine till the end of his life.He will be missed by many.

The passing of His Beatitude Lubomyr will be the end an era, as he was directly connected to the legendary Patriarch Josef Slipyj and the efforts for the revitalization of the Ukrainian Church in the diaspora as well as in Ukraine.

The body of Cardinal Husar will be taken first to the city of Lviv as it was the place of his birth and the place of his enthronement as the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. His remains will lie in state for the people to pay their last respects.Then the coffin will make its way back to Kyiv, where the funeral services will take place on Sunday evening and the Memorial Divine Liturgy will take place on Monday, June 5 2017. His remains will be interred in the crypt of the Cathedral of the Resurrection.

ETERNAL MEMORY.