Ukrainian archbishop sees need to build up Church

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The Catholic Church in Ukraine must focus on proclaiming the Gospels and building the Church, the head of Ukraine’s second-largest Greek Catholic eparchy has said.

“The Church must be present in society, in the media, the schools, the hospitals, the prisons,” Archbishop Volodymyr Viytyshyn of Ivano-Frankivsk told Aid to the Church in Need.

“We need well-trained staff; therefore we have launched various education projects.”

His eparchy has 360 parishes served by 456 priests. About 75 percent of the 780,000 people in the eparchy are part of the Greek Catholic Church.

The Church is in communion with Rome but follows its own customs and practices, including married priests. After surviving communist rule, the community is now resisting a growing trend towards materialism.

“In the Soviet period, the most important issue was to keep the faith alive. Today, our main task is to proclaim the Gospels and to build the Church,” Archbishop Viytyshyn said.

The building projects include a seminary’s new theology faculty building and new apartments for 44 lecturers and priests.

The Ukraine government handed over the seminary building, a former Communist Party school, to the Church after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The building needed significant modernization work.

The seminary’s 270 seminarians are still living in overcrowded conditions. Groups of four students must share a room of 161 square feet without washing or toilet facilities.

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