On August 31st 2015, Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France, spoke to our Ukrainian Catholic Synod in Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine.

I found him very interesting, in the sense that he comes from France, and while we all know that France supports Ukraine, you usually do not hear what they actually think about Ukraine and our church. His voice is very important in that he is the leading figure in the French Catholic Church.

He started his speech by saying “we have little knowledge of your church as well as Eastern Catholic churches generally”. He went on to add that “the media very often distorts very complicated situations and give inaccurate accounts of what happens.” But he showed that he actually knew quite a bit about Ukraine. “Ukraine has suffered too much over the centuries. History has treated your people with hardness. Ukraine deserves a rest”.

Speaking of our church in France and the world he said that the fact that our church keeps its’ traditions, is a positive contribution in itself to the Catholic Church. “Eastern Catholic Churches are magnificent witness to what catholic unity means. It is admitted that deplorable endeavours to Latinise Eastern liturgical and canonical practices belong to the past.”

He then went on to make a strong statement of the Roman Curia in the Vatican. I expect that Rome “will make more visible the specific link between the Apostolic See and the Eastern Catholic Churches, as being clearly distinct from the relationship between Rome and the Latin Church”. He added that Rome should not be afraid “to recognize the Ukrainian Church as a full sui iuris church”.

Speaking of Eastern Ukraine he said “you need our support and we need your spirit of resistance. Your church has the strength of centuries of martyrdom. It crossed periods of persecutions and miscomprehension even from part of your fellow Catholics. You live constantly under the threat of canonical claims mixed with nationalistic views from part of your powerful neighbours.”

It would seem to me that the Archbishop and indeed the French people actually know a lot about our people and our church. They are true friends!