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Apostolic Movement

Ukraine: Is synodality possible amid war?

By: Antonella Palermo - Vatican News

The prelate, who was present at the European Continental Assembly in Prague, explains how the conflict has interrupted the journey undertaken by the communities of the diocese to work on the preparatory document for the Synod, but has brought to the surface a way of acting together, among the people, pastoral workers, and priests, to help and strengthen each other spiritually through prayer.

After Prague, the exchange on the results of the work of the Synod will continue at the local level. The Ukrainian Church, affected by the Russian military invasion, has not been able to examine in depth the topics proposed in the dioceses. However, within the tragedy of the war, it has discovered a practical expression of closeness and authentic synodality.

Bishop Oleksandr Yazlovetskiy, Auxiliary Bishop of Kiev-Zhytomyr, speaks to us about this. He admits that he found himself in a state of limbo and disorientation among the 200 delegates, as if, as he says, “in the midst of so many realities that speak of harmony, there was a constant sadness in me”.

The following is a transcription of a dialogue with Bishop Yazlovetskiy.

The meeting opened with the words of Monsignor Grušas, who expressed his hope for an end to Russian aggression in Ukraine, so that true peace and reconciliation can reign in Europe.

How did these words affect you?

Msgr. Yazlovetskiy: I had expected something like that, because when you are in a Catholic environment, you always find solidarity, support, and prayers wherever you go. I am usually in Kiev, but from time to time I go to Italy and just before coming here I was in the United States, and I always received words of solidarity.

But what does synodality mean to you, one year after the beginning of the conflict?

Msgr. Yazlovetskiy: To tell the truth, it is difficult to speak of synodality. When the Synod began, I was given the task of coordinating the work of the seven Roman Catholic dioceses that we have. We started like everyone else, with our hopes and fears. But when the war broke out, something else obviously took priority. It is difficult for us to continue this work and, to tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to coming. I understand that the world is moving on, that the Church has to face all the challenges, but our realities and thoughts are unfortunately many miles away.

On the other hand, if we want to look at one “good” thing that living in war has brought us, it is precisely this closeness to the people: in the shelters, having tea with them, helping with volunteers. Every parish has become a small Caritas, with so many displaced people and so many needs. In short, this war has helped many Ukrainian priests to leave their homes and reach out to the people with prayer and help. They have been really very good. Our diocese is very big, it was partially occupied by the Russians at the time of the massacres in Bucha and Irpin. I am very proud of how the priests took care of the people who were fleeing. I hope that this solidarity that we have and live today will not be lost, that it will be preserved.

So, the conflict has not divided the Church?

Msgr. Yazlovetskiy: No, it has not. I must say that at the beginning I had many fears. The young and middle-aged people had not lived through war. But we had very good people. There are exceptions, but most people have become very close to the Church. Even among us, there are many couples who only get married in civil weddings, and when the call comes to enlist in the army to fight, they decide to get married in the Church as well, for fear that the men won’t return. It’s beautiful, there are so many marriages, so many baptisms, so many situations where people try to fix their relationship with the Church.

Source: Vatican News

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