Following in the steps of our pioneering and saintly Fathers at the Synod of Petrograd 1917 (the centenary of which falls today), and at the Congresses of 1930, 1933, 1950 and 1970;
Heeding the words of Pope Benedict XIV who "wanted to make clear to all the good will which the Apostolic See feels for Oriental Catholics […] [The Church's] great desire is for the preservation, not destruction, of different peoples – in short, that all may be Catholic rather than all become Latin" (Allatae sunt, paragraph 48, 26th July 1755);
Also observing the words of the reverend Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, which "solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, have a full right and are in duty bound to rule themselves, each in accordance with its own established disciplines[.]"; and that the Churches of the East "should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their legitimate liturgical rite and their established way of life, and that these may not be altered except to obtain for themselves an organic improvement" (Orientalium ecclesiarum, paragraph 5);
Keeping in mind the recent Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill at Havana, which declared that Greek-Catholic ecclesial communities "have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours" (12th February 2016);
Acknowledging, in our current circumstances, the care of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church exercised by the most reverend Bishop Joseph Werth in the territory of Russia, and the solicitude exercised by the local Latin hierarchs for parishes and communities of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church outside Russia;
Recognising that the particular needs of each parish of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church are diverse, whether in the territory of Russia or in the diaspora; and
Cognizant of the fervent prayers, struggles, hopes and aspirations of Russian Greek-Catholics throughout the world, and the desire of Russian Greek-Catholics to aid their own brethren in need;
The 2017 Congress of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church resolves as follows:
1. The most important result of the Congress is that we, the Clergy of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church from both within Russia and outside Russia, have met and formed bonds of love, friendship and brotherhood. This point was unanimously agreed. This assists to counteract the currently extreme level of isolation of the Russian Greek-Catholic clergy and communities.
2. It was also unanimously agreed that we are united in wanting a Father and a Head. One example would be to appoint an Exarch of full episcopal rank with global responsibility, together with a Protosyncellus for the C.I.S. nations. The candidates should be Russian Greek-Catholics of any nationality who are Russian speaking. Currently, the Russian Greek-Catholic Church has several celibate priests, from whom candidates for the position of Exarch can be proposed.
3. There was consensus that the Russian Greek-Catholic Church should conduct regular clergy conferences. It was further agreed that the next conference would be held in 2019, and Fr Sergei Golovanov offered to organise the conference, which was graciously accepted by the Clergy at the Congress. Possible locations in the Baltic region were discussed.
4. The Congress identified the following items to be progressed and implemented:
(a) To ensure that candidates desiring to join the Catholic Church are not in practice assumed automatically into the Latin Catholic Church, where the candidate is a baptised Russian national (who has not expressly elected to join the Latin Catholic Church), or an unbaptised Russian national with the right to elect to join the Russian Greek-Catholic Church.
(b) That the process for joining the Russian Greek-Catholic Church, both for non-Catholics and for Catholics changing rite, needs to be simplified.
(c) Clergy training and education; succession planning and ordination. The Congress noted that there are currently several seminarians who have expressed the desire to serve in the Russian Greek-Catholic Church. The Congress identified one of the Russian Greek-Catholic Clergy to be responsible for the oversight of seminarians in Russia.
(d) Fundraising strategies and mutual financial support were discussed in general in respect of Russian Greek-Catholic Church activities and Russian Greek-Catholic communities in need.
(e) It was agreed to distribute a contact list of attendees at the Congress, to enable the Russian Greek-Catholic Clergy to keep in contact. Electronic media will also be used to distribute current information and news, and updates on ongoing issues, among all Russian Greek-Catholic communities.
5. We wish to convey our heartfelt gratitude to Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill for their Joint Declaration dated 12th February 2016, which so clearly confirmed the right of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church to exist and to undertake all that is necessary for us to meet the spiritual needs of our faithful, while seeking to live in peace with our neighbours.
6. This Congress authorises the Rev. Mitred Archpriest Lawrence Cross to report on and progress the foregoing resolutions with the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities and to undertake all associated tasks and formalities needed to bring about a more normal and full establishment of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church.
The Clergy of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church, having met in plenary session at the Russian Greek-Catholic Global Congress of 2017, at San Felice del Benaco, Italy, approved the above-mentioned resolutions.
Dated the 10th day of June 2017 (28th day of May, Julian style), on the Apodosis of Pentecost and the memorial of Ven. Nicetas of Chalcedon.
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