Pope Presides At First Beatifications In Ukraine History

VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2001 (VIS) - This morning in the presence of between 300,000 and 400,000 faithful, John Paul II celebrated Mass in the hippodrome of Lviv and beatified Servants of God Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski of Lviv (1880-1923), and Fr. Zygmunt Gorazdowski (1845-1920), founder of the "Jozefitki" congregation of religious. The Mass was held according to the Latin rite.

In his homily the Pope recalled that "Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski invites us to be generous in living the love of God and neighbor. This was his supreme rule of life. ... A good and faithful servant of the Lord, motivated by deep spirituality and unceasing charity, he was loved and esteemed by all his fellow citizens, regardless of their religious convictions, rite or nationality."

"For me personally," said the Holy Father, "this beatification is a special cause for rejoicing. The Blessed Archbishop Bilczewski is part of the line of my own apostolic succession. He in fact consecrated Archbishop Boleslaw Twardowski, who in turn ordained Bishop Eugeniusz Baziak, from whose hands I received episcopal ordination. Today, therefore, I too am receiving a new patron. I thank God for this marvelous gift."

John Paul II affirmed that "in praising God for the indomitable fidelity to the Gospel of these His Servants, let us feel ourselves gently nudged to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel of not a few Christians of both Polish and Ukrainian origin living in these parts. It is time to leave behind the sorrowful past. The Christians of the two nations must walk together in the name of the one Christ. ... May the purification of historical memories lead everyone to work for the triumph of what unites over what divides, in order to build together a future of mutual respect, fraternal cooperation and true solidarity."

Speaking of Blessed Gorazdowski, the Pope highlighted his unstinting dedication "to the poor, despite his precarious health" and his "burning passion for the Gospel. ... His apostolic activity was bolstered by a commitment to charity which knew no pause. ... Because of his total fidelity to the poor, chaste and obedient Christ, he was acknowledged when he died as 'a true religious, even if he had no special vows', and he remains for everyone a privileged witness to God's mercy."

The Pope requested priests, religious, seminarians, catechists and students of theology to imitate the two new Blesseds. "In various ways," he said, "you offer a special service to the Gospel, and like them you must do everything possible so that, by means of your witness, people of every age, background, education and social status will experience the love of God in the depth of their hearts. This is your mission."

"May your prime commitment," he concluded, "be to love everyone and to be available to everyone, never flagging in your faithfulness to Christ and the Church. This is certainly a path strewn with difficulties and misunderstandings, which can sometimes lead even to persecution. ... Christ does not promise an easy life, but always gives the assurance of His help."

Following Mass, the Pope travelled to Lviv's major Latin seminary of St. Joseph where he had lunch with the Ukrainian Catholic bishops and with members of his entourage.

At 6 p.m. he is due to meet young people on the Sykhiv esplanade in front of the Church of the Nativity of Mary Mother of God in Lviv.

Vatican Information Service
26. juni 2001

av Webmaster publisert 26.06.2001, sist endret 26.06.2001 - 14:59