From May 4 to May 11, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference took place in Sydney, with participation from all Catholic bishops. One of the most important topics discussed during the Conference was the war in Ukraine. Bishop Mykola Bychok, the Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul in Melbourne, devoted his address to the story of the Redemptorist Fathers captured in Berdyansk, the confrontation against the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as the collection to support refugees.

Each day of the Conference began with the Divine Liturgy, followed by working sessions where various topics were discussed, including reports of different conference commissions, canonical issues, Catholic education in educational institutions, Christian unity and interfaith dialogue, challenges for the Catholic Church due to sexual abuse, moral doctrine, exit from quarantine, emphasis on the Catholic family and the example of parents in raising children, evangelization, and the participation of the laity in the life of the Church, as well as liturgical issues. The topic of the war in Ukraine was also discussed for the third time, which has been going on for 440 days.

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On May 9, Bishop Mykola Bychok made a separate appeal to the Catholic bishops regarding the war in Ukraine. He noted, “First of all, thank you for the unique opportunity to once again convey the truth about the war in Ukraine at the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Australia. The last time I addressed you on the 9th of November last year, on the 259th day of the war. Today is the 440th day of the war. I want to tell you about the ministry of priests during the war and also about the Advent Appeal for humanitarian aid to victims in Ukraine.”

The Bishop spoke about the history of his fellow Redemptorists, Fr. Ivan Levytskyi and Fr. Bohdan Heleta, and their pastoral ministry in the city of Berdyansk during the war. Contact with the fathers was lost on November 18, 2022, and to this day they remain in captivity of the occupiers. The Bishop also conveyed the truth about the “spiritual occupation” of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate of Ukraine’s spiritual heritage. In conclusion, the Eparch of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saints Peter and Paul in Melbourne noted that thanks to the collection at Christmas time for the support of refugees, an amount of AUD 428,358.41 was sent to Ukraine for the Patriarchal Foundation the “Wise Action”. He added, “I ask you to continue praying and fasting for peace in Ukraine in your dioceses. I encourage good deeds of mercy that will help us heal the wounds of war.”

(Read of the appeal)

Among the working documents for the Episcopal Conference was a prayer for peace and tranquility in Ukraine, which all present bishops pray throughout the week.

For reference: the Conference includes bishops from 34 dioceses and ordinariates from 28 territorial dioceses and from 6 other structures, including the Eastern Catholic dioceses for Chaldean, Maronite, Melkite, and Ukrainian Catholics, as well as the military ordinariate and the Anglican ordinariate and the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. The bishops meet twice a year for a week in May and November to act at the national level and decide on issues of national importance. The conference has a president and vice-president (each elected for two years), a standing committee and various commissions of bishops (in which each member is elected for three years), and a general secretariat. The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is Bishop Timothy Costello, Archbishop of Perth, and his deputy is Bishop Anthony Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney. The general secretary is Stephen Hackett.