Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki: It is Still Springtime in the Church in Ukraine
Ks. arcybiskup, metropolita lwowski Mieczysław Mokrzycki spędził tegoroczne święto Bożego Ciała w parafii Najświętszego Zbawiciela w Rykach. Przewodniczył Eucharystii i uczestniczył w uroczystej procesji ulicami miasta, fot. Echo Katolickie
Today the Church in Ukraine is struggling with many problems, yet there is no lack of reasons for joy: “It is still Springtime in our Church because we have recovered many churches and new ones are also being built. We have ordained new priests. We also have the possibility to create more parishes,” said Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, John Paul II’s former personal secretary, in an interview for the weekly Echo Katolickie.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the renewal of the structures of the Ukrainian Church. There are seven dioceses, three major seminaries, and three theological institutes. The first founders of the communities, especially in the Lviv archdiocese, were Poles, who remained there and transmitted the faith from generation to generation. Today, the ethnic proportions have changed in favor of other nations.
As Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki pointed out, progressive secularization is a serious problem for the Church in Ukraine. “Because of the ease with which contact can be made through the Internet and on the phone, the spirit of laicization is also reaching Ukraine. Young people, looking for an easier life, are going to Europe. The authority of teachers and parents is declining because the influence of secularization is also spreading. Similarly, demography is declining, and as a result, there are fewer vocations, although the percentage of vocations is still quite high,” notes the Ordinary of Lviv. “We have to put much effort into fighting against laicization, and take care of the children and the youth, by indicating true values that will help to form their personalities and characters well, so that they do not lose, as St. John Paul II said, their life, which is unique and for eternity,” reminded the archbishop.
One of the most serious problems in Ukraine is the ongoing war in the eastern part of the country. Archbishop Mokrzycki said to Echo Katolickie that “many young people from western Ukraine are called to military service. Each week, three or four soldiers are killed (including many from western Ukraine). This causes great pain and loss in every family, for the Church, and the State.” “We try to be close to people who have lost a loved one in the war by helping materially and taking care of the family of the deceased, comforting them,” stressed Archbishop Mokrzycki.
The Ukrainian Church is also faced with economic problems, which often force the husband or the wife to leave the family. This, in turn, has many pathological consequences, adversely affecting the upbringing of the young generations.
Despite the difficulties and problems, the Church in Ukraine plays a significant role there. Many people appreciate the Catholic liturgy, the lack of involvement in politics, the opportunity to deepen their faith and to learn more about the Church. The archbishop is pleased with the evangelization work and the fact that it is helping many people to find their way to the Church.
In the interview with Echo Katolickie, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki also expressed his satisfaction over the revived veneration of St. John Paul II, who is known and highly appreciated by Ukrainians. “In many of our parishes, there now monuments representing him, churches put under his name, and city parks, streets, and squares that bear his name. I have also given many relics to our communities in Ukraine. People treat St. John Paul II as their intercessor, he is the patron saint of married couples and young people. All of his teachings help us in our spiritual formation,” said Archbishop Mokrzycki.
The current Metropolitan of Lviv was the personal secretary of the Polish Pope from 1996 to 2005 and, after his death, he served Pope Benedict XVI. He has been the Metropolitan of Lviv for nearly 13 years. Archbishop Mokrzycki has been connected with the Archdiocese of Lviv since his early years. He was born on its territory and grew up there. After the war, 30 parishes of this archdiocese remained on Polish soil.