Thursday, February 25, 2016


The Western Rite Within Orthodoxy

Throughout the first millennium of Christian history the Western rites existed within the Orthodox Church side by side with the Eastern rites. Even after the Great Schism of AD 1054, England remained Orthodox until the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Norman Invasion was seen as a crusade to restore the English Church to Rome. After conquering England, the Normans replaced all but one of the English bishops with Normans and forced the Church into submission to the Roman See.

Western Rite Christians also continued in full communion with the Orthodox Church in Constantinople and other Eastern cities until they were finally absorbed into the Eastern Rite sometime in the thirteenth century. A Benedictine monastery, Amalfion, existed on Mount Athos until 1287, surviving the Great Schism of 1054, the Roman Catholic conquest of Mount Athos in 1204, and the Roman Catholic retreat from Mount Athos in 1261. The monastery finally closed because of its inability to recruit postulants from the West. The ruins of Amalfion can still be seen on the Holy Mountain, with its Western architecture in the midst a sea of Byzantine monastic communities. 

A vast number of Orthodox Saints, including many Holy Fathers of the Church, were spiritually nurtured by the Western rites. The Western Church produced such great spiritual luminaries as Saints Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Tours, Benedict of Nursia, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great (the Dialogist), Patrick of Ireland, Bede the Venerable, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo.

With the closing of Amalfion, the Benedictine monastery on Mount Athos in 1287, the use of the Western Rite, which had been celebrated on the Holy Mountain for more than 300 years, and in the Orthodox Church for nearly thirteen centuries, came to a temporary end.

The English Reformation

The English Reformation which began in 1534, was different from the Reformation on the continent of Europe. No new Church was formed. The Reformation in England was conducted by the bishops themselves with the goal of restoring the Faith and Order of what is commonly called the undivided Church. The work of reform and restoration in the English Church was continued by the Caroline Divines of the 17th century, and the Oxford Movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Writing of the 17th century, Dean G. W. O. Addleshaw says, “The Anglicans are thinking and working the whole time in terms of patristic thought, more especially that of the Greek Fathers” (The High Church Tradition).

In the mid-19th century the Russian Orthodox theologian Alexis Khomiakov became very interested in the return of the West to Orthodoxy. He encouraged an Anglican Deacon, William Palmer (1811-1879), who had visited Russia, to start a movement in England toward Orthodoxy. The famous Orthodox bishop, Metropolitan Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow, said that while Anglicans who embraced Orthodoxy must be in full accord with the rest of Orthodoxy in regard to doctrine, “every rite not implying a direct negation of dogma would be allowed.”

Orthodox Archbishop Kallistos (Ware) wrote, “This [Anglican] appeal to antiquity has led many Anglicans to look with sympathy and interest at the Orthodox Church, and equally it has led many Orthodox to look with interest and sympathy to Anglicanism. As a result of pioneer work by Anglicans such as William Palmer (1811-1879), J. M. Neale (1818-1868), and W. J. Birkbeck (1859-1916), firm bonds of Anglo-Orthodox solidarity were established by the end of the nineteenth century” (The Orthodox Church, by Timothy Ware, Penguin, c. 1993, p. 318).

Western Orthodox Rebirth

With the declaration of Papal Infallibility by the First Vatican Council in 1870, many concerned Roman Catholics began to rethink their Faith and to call themselves Old Catholics, rejecting what they considered to be a new Faith introduced by the Council. Some of these Old Catholics turned their eyes to the East, to the unchanging Orthodox Catholic Church.

In the wake of the First Vatican Council the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church authorized the use of a corrected Roman Rite by Roman Catholics who were returning to the Orthodox Church. 

In the United States, the restoration of the Western Rite began in 1891, when Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky), the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Alaska, formally received a parish of Swiss Old Catholics at Dykesville, near Fon du Lac, Wisconsin.

In 1898 a Western Rite Diocese of Moravia and Silesia was organized in Europe by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1904, Archbishop Tikhon (Belavin) and Bishop Raphael (Hawaweeny), assisted by Fr. John Kochuroff - all three of whom would later be canonized as Saints - petitioned the Holy Synod of Russia to permit the adaption of the Services of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer for use by Orthodox Christians. In 1907, a Commission of the Holy Synod of Russia reported in favor of an adaption of the Book of Common Prayer for use by Western converts, and set out the criteria for adaption. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted the report. 

A good beginning was made at restoring the Western Rite, but the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the brutal persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church made the development of this work very difficult and it progressed very slowly. Yet, despite the difficulties, Western Rite congregations and monastic communities were established in both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

In 1958, the Patriarchate of Antioch adopted the provisions of the Russian Holy Synod and authorized the restoration of the Western Rite. In 1961, the Western Rite Vicariate was erected in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, with Archpriest Alexander Turner as Vicar General.

Beginning in the late 1970s, a growing number of Catholic Anglicans began to see that due to the doctrinal and moral changes in their Church the dream corporate reunion between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches was becoming impossible. Many Anglicans began to enter the Orthodox Church and there are now English Use Western Rite congregations in both the Russian and the Antiochian Orthodox Churches. 

Western Rite Orthodoxy Today

Today there are Western Rite congregations and monastic communities in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, with smaller works in the Romanian and Serbian Orthodox Churches in Europe. The Western Rite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is the largest, most widespread and fastest growing.

There are now more than fifty Western Rite Orthodox congregations and monastic communities in the United States, with more in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and on the continent of Europe, and their numbers are growing. 

In the United States, 23% of all Orthodox Christians are converts, as are 30% of Orthodox clergy and 41% of Orthodox seminarians, with three bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia being converts: one from Roman Catholicism and two from Anglicanism.  

Anglicans make up the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church in the United States, and they are found in both the Eastern and Western Rites. They are everywhere. Archpriest Josiah Trenham, a clergyman of the Reformed Episcopal Church before becoming Orthodox wrote, “It is my estimate that there is no heterodox body in America from which more Orthodox clergy have come than the Anglican Communion. The number of Orthodox priests in this country that were previously Episcopal clergy is certainly in the hundreds” (Rock and Sand, An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Teachings, by Archpriest Josiah Trenham, Newrome Press, c. 2015, p. 193).

It has often been said that the consecrated life is a good indicator of the health of the Church. There are about eighty Orthodox monastic communities in North America, with nine Western Rite monastic communities in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.

A great spiritual revival and Orthodox resurgence is taking place in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe; and the Orthodox Church is growing rapidly in America and all around the world. The Western Rite has been restored to the Orthodox Catholic Church, the post-Christian West is beginning to be re-evangelized, and the Western Church rebuilt. This is a move of the Holy Spirit and a New Springtime for the Church. St. John (Maximovich) of San Francisco said, “Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must be Eastern. The West was fully Orthodox for a thousand years...”

The Dean of the ROCOR Western Rite Communities is Fr. Mark Rowe, a former Anglican priest and Canon. The Ruling Bishop of the Western Rite Communities is Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch (Primate) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and an enthusiastic supporter of the Western Rite.

Holy Cross Orthodox Church

Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Omaha, Nebraska has just celebrated its third Christmas as a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia after having been received from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). We  were greeted with open arms, welcomed with love, and are fully integrated into the Orthodox Church. 

Metropolitan Hilarion made an episcopal visit to Holy Cross Orthodox Church in the summer of 2015, fully participated in our Services, administered Holy Communion to the faithful, and ordained a Reader and Subdeacon for service at our parish. His visit was a high point in the life of our church.

We are very happy to be Orthodox Christians and to be a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. We have lost nothing and gained much. The Orthodox Church is the oldest Church in Christendom, it is the original Church, it is the  “One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the Creeds, and the doors are wide open to everyone. When Western Christians enter the Orthodox Church they are not joining a new Church, they are simply returning to the Church of their Fathers and embracing the fullness of the Orthodox Christian Faith “which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

Come and see. The Orthodox Church welcomes you!

Thursday, February 18, 2016


The parish Website of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Omaha, Nebraska has just been updated, and it is packed with important information. I hope that you will visit our updated Website and check back often. Here is the link:

On the Home page you will find a new cover letter, and on the Sidebar you will find a lot of important information. At the top of the Sidebar there is a link that will take you directly to our parish Facebook page. Our Facebook page is regularly updated, so you will want to visit it often. 

Second on the Sidebar is a link to the outstanding new Website of the Western Rite Communities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). 

Next is a link to an Orthodox Catechism. This Catechism is "The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church, also known as the Catechism of St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow," and was first translated into English in 1845. This Catechism is in question and answer format and is an excellent learning and teaching tool. I hope that you will make good use of it.

Fourth on the Sidebar is a link to Ancient Faith Radio. Ancient Faith Radio is an online Orthodox Christian radio station. I hope that you make a habit of listening to Ancient Faith Radio. It will bless you and help you grow as a disciple of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Fifth on the Sidebar is a link to the Orthodox Western Rite Ordo Kalendar for 2016. The Kalendar will allow you to effortlessly follow the Church's liturgical year, days of Fast and Abstinence, and the liturgical colours.

Next you will find a link to a very important article titled, “We Are Living in Historic Times!” This article chronicles the tremendous move of the Holy Spirit that is taking place today and the New Springtime that has begun for the Orthodox Catholic Church.

Then, following in order on the Sidebar are links to some more very important articles:  “The Good News of Jesus Christ;” “Do You Have a Personal Relationship With Jesus Christ?;” “Introducing the New Testament Church;” and a “Letter to An Inquirer.”

Next is an important article for traditional Anglicans called, “Orthodox Anglicanism and Christian Reunion - The Time Is Now.” This article was written by me some years ago while I was still serving as an Anglican priest and was published on Pravoslavie (now OrthoChristian.Com) and elsewhere. It chronicles the growth of Anglican/Orthodox relations and calls for the remnant of traditional Anglicans to reunite with the Orthodox Church from which their forbearers in the Faith were torn away by force of arms in 1066, by the Norman Conquest. Anglicans already make up the largest group of converts to the Orthodox Church, and there are hundreds of former Anglican priests who are now serving as Orthodox priests in the United States of America alone. 

Twelfth on the Sidebar is “A Guide to Western Rite Orthodox Church Planting.” This Guide is part of a presentation on Church Planting that I made at the 2015 ROCOR Western Rite Clergy Conference in New York. It will be a helpful tool for anyone, clerical or lay, who has an interest in starting a Western Rite mission-congregation in their area.

Finally, there is a link to a Recommended Reading List. This reading list will help anyone who is interested in the Orthodox Christian Faith and Church in general, or the Western Rite in particular.

The updated Website also includes News, a March parish Calendar, an expanded Links page, and much more. A link  on the top Linkbar titled, “Father's Blog,” will take you to my Blog, “Fr. Novak's Blog.” I hope that you will read my blog and check back often.

Holy Cross Orthodox Church is a local parish with a national and global outreach. We have a parish website packed with information, a well-read blog - Fr. Novak’s Blog, a Media site, and a popular parish Facebook page. I hope that you will make good use of these resources for education, edification and outreach.

St. Tikhon (1865-1925), Archbishop of North America and later Patriarch of Moscow, said in his farewell address as he was leaving the United Staes, "The light of Orthodoxy is not lit for a small circle of people. No, the Orthodox Faith is Catholic; it is a commandment of its founder, 'Go into all the world...' (Mark 16:15). It is our obligation, therefore, to share our spiritual treasure, our truth, our light, and our joy with those who do not have these gifts."

The Website of Holy Cross parish with its many links is a tool that we all can use to "Go into all the world... to share our spiritual treasure, our truth, our light and our joy with those who do not have these gifts." You can begin right now by forwarding this email or the link to our parish Website to everyone you know, and then by going to the top link on our Sidebar that will take you to our Holy Cross Facebook page. By "Liking" our parish Facebook page you will help to spread our message far and wide. Our Facebook page is updated often, and I hope that you will become a follower of it. By taking a few minutes to do these two things you can be doing the work of an evangelist. Who knows what fruit a few minutes of seed sowing will bear?

A big Thank You to our Web Mistress Hannah F. for updating our parish Website. Managing our Website is no easy task, and Hannah does a great job for us!

If you are in the Omaha area please accept my personal invitation to worship with us this Sunday. Christian Education is at 8:45 AM, followed by Matins (Morning Prayer) at 9:15 AM, with the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 10:00 AM. Refreshments and fellowship follow the Liturgy in our parish hall.  If you do not live in the Omaha area, I hope that you will visit an Orthodox parish this Sunday. You will be warmly welcomed. If I can answer any questions or be of any service to you, please feel free to contact me any time. My email address is: and the phone number for the parish office is (402) 573-6558. Here again is the link to our newly updated parish Website: 

We are a faithful and friendly congregation, and we have a place for you. Visitors are always welcome. I hope to see you on Sunday!

Monday, February 15, 2016


His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with His Holiness Pope Francis of Rome on Friday, February 12th, at Havana international airport in Havana, Cuba. This meeting was the first of its kind in Christian history.

The Roman Church was in communion with the Orthodox Catholic Church until the Great Schism in 1054. It is one of the five ancient Orthodox Patriarchates of the Christian world, but sadly fell out of communion with her sister Orthodox Patriarchates for a number of theological and historical reasons, chief of which was the unilateral changing of the Nicene Creed without Catholic consent. The estrangement deepened with the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, by the Fourth Crusade.

The Orthodox Churches acknowledged the Bishop of Rome as Patriarch of the West and accorded the Roman See a primacy of honor in the centuries before the Great Schism, and longs for the Roman Church to return to the Catholic consensus of the first millennium and  for the restoration of communion, but insists that Rome completely reject its post schism doctrinal and canonical innovations, including that of papal infallibility which was only declared in 1870.   

Pope John Paul II, had said, “If at the beginning of the third millennium we are to overcome the divisions of the second millennium, we must return to the consensus of the first millennium.” The Orthodox Church could not agree more. May last week’s meeting between their Holinesses be an important step in fulfilling our Lord’s High Priestly prayer, “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).

A Joint Declaration was signed by the two primates:

Joint Declaration
of Pope Francis
and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13).
1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.
It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another “to speak face to face” (2 Jn 12), from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilization.
2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.
It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.
3. By meeting far from the longstanding disputes of the “Old World”, we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us (cf. 1 Pet3:15).
4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the “seed of Christians”.
5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: “So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn17:21).
6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!
7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilization has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.
8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.
9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.
10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.
We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.
11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, “the fruit of justice” (Is32:17), so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.
We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: “Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly” (1 Pet4:12–13).
13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, “since God is not the God of disorder but of peace” (1 Cor14:33).
14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.
15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularized societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.
16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilization, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.
17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.
18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor1:27–29).
19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.
20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.
21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God (cf. Gen 4:10). The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general. We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan. 22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground (cf. Mt 25:25), but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.
23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:14, 16). Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith (cf.Mt 13:46) you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that “you have been purchased at a great price” (1 Cor 6:20), at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.
24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism. We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be “in harmony with one another” (Rm 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: “Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation” (Rm 15:20).
25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of “uniatism”, understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.
26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.
27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.
28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, “so that the world may believe” (Jn17:21). This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.
29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk12:32)!
Christ is the well–spring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet 2:10).
30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: “We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God”. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!