On October 6, 2018, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the pilgrims of the Slovak Greek-Catholic Church, on their pilgrimage to Rome for the 200th anniversary of the erection of the Eparchy of Prešov:
Address of the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters,
Welcome, and thank you for your warm affection!
St John Paul II, speaking in Prešov in 1995, borrowed a beautiful image from the surrounding nature to describe the identity and mission of the Greek-Catholic communities: “In the transparent waters the majestic grandeur of the peaks is reflected: this landscape [… ] speaks to us of the beauty and goodness of the Creator. From the southern slopes of the Tatra mountains to the plains of Zemplín, for centuries the communities of the Eastern rite have lived side by side with the Latin rite brothers and sisters, who are also called to represent, like small “plesá” lakes, God’s transparent and luminous generosity. It is the Lord Himself Who enriches His Church with the variety of forms and traditions” (Address to Catholics of Byzantine rite, 2 July 1995, 6).
The Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia can be considered an expression of the beauty of the variety of the forms of ecclesial life, of that variety which “in no way harms its unity; rather it manifests it” (Vatican Ecumenical Council II, Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2).
Dear pilgrims from Slovakia!
In your joyful presence here, together with your Pastors, I see the enthusiastic and devoted face of a Church steadfast in faith, aware of her dignity and proud of her ecclesial identity. In this way, you are worthy sons and daughters of the evangelization carried out, in full fidelity to the Apostolic See, by the patron saints of Europe Cyril and Methodius. The continent of Europe, in the East as in the West, needs to rediscover its roots and vocation; and from Christian roots, only solid trees can grow, bearing the fruits of full respect for the dignity of man, in every condition and in every phase of life.
I encourage you to keep your Byzantine tradition, which I have learned to know and love since I was young: rediscover it and live it fully – as the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council taught – paying close attention to the paths of evangelization and catechesis in which, even before pastors, the protagonists are the parents and the grandparents from whom many have learned the first prayers and the Christian meaning of life. Thank you to the fathers, mothers, grandparents and all the educators present here for your indispensable testimony!
Dear brothers and sisters, I will shortly ask you for special remembrance, when you celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, a temple so precious for the memory of Saints Cyril and Methodius and therefore for your history. May the Holy Mother of God, to whom we look with the hope and love of sons and daughters, defend by her intercession the Church in this time of trial and watch over the work of the Synod on young people, which we have just begun. I thank you and I bless all of you, your loved ones and the entire Greek Catholic Community in Slovakia.
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