Catholic News Service interviews Ukrainian Archbishop Stefan Soroka regarding Pope Benedict XVI's special acknowledgment of the Eastern Catholic churches in the United States, which was received with great appreciation:
During his meeting with Catholic bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington April 16, Pope Benedict recognized the presence of bishops from "all the venerable Eastern churches in communion with the successor of Peter."Read the full statement by Metropolitan-Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church.
"Your presence here is a reminder of the courageous witness to Christ of so many members of your communities, often amid suffering in their respective homelands," the pope said during his address to the U.S. bishops, which followed a vespers service.
The Ukrainian Catholic Church is one of 22 Eastern Catholic churches. It is fully in union with Rome but has maintained the liturgical and spiritual heritage shared with the Orthodox churches.
Some of the other Eastern Catholic churches in the U.S. are Armenian, Chaldean, Maronite, Romanian and Syrian. They all have their own distinctive liturgical and legal systems, but are considered equal in dignity, rights and obligations to the Latin tradition within the Catholic Church.
"The Holy Father's comments reflect his knowledge and sensitivity to the sufferings and persecutions endured by many of the hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful of the Eastern Catholic churches in their homeland," Archbishop Soroka said in a statement issued April 23. "Escaping persecutions and hardships and the search for religious freedoms were often the motivator for the immigration of many to the United States of America."