In the wake of Pope Francis’ visit to a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church on Sunday, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti to Ukraine is speaking out about the situation in the eastern European nation.
A parish is not a museum
In his visit to the Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome, Pope Francis underlined the importance of parishes as places where we are able to meet Christ. “The parish,” he said, “is not a museum, the church is not a sepulchre.” In remarks to Radio Vaticana Italiano, Archbishop Gugerotti said the Pope’s words were “extremely timely and opportune.” The Nuncio was interviewed by Antonella Palermo.
Archbishop Gugerotti describes the effort to build “living parishes” in Ukraine, a country where in the past the churches were also cemeteries. “The persecutions left very deep marks, unfortunately, above all with regard to mutual trust,” he said.
Anxiety for Ukraine
In brief remarks in English, Archbishop Gugerotti expressed his “anxiety” for the challenges facing the country. “I’m very much troubled by what I see here,” he said, noting that the situation “is still very difficult for the people.” He pointed especially to the lack of work and corruption. “In spite of the efforts to improve the situation, it still makes the country still vulnerable.”
In the eastern part of the country, where there is an ongoing war with Russian-backed separatists, the Archbishop spoke about the problems of refugees fleeing the conflict, as well as lack of basic necessities like lack of food and medicine.
Archbishop Gugerotti was also asked about the prospects of ecumenism in Ukraine. “Today, ecumenism in Ukraine is still a dream,” he said. But “people are very good,” he continued. “They can meet with each other without having big problems.” Unfortunately, he said, “in general the political influence on religion is so strong that it would take a radical act of common witness of Jesus Christ” to move forward.