The newly appointed pontiff, Pope Francis has a love for Eastern Catholic liturgy and a history of supporting Eastern Catholic communities, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk has said. In welcoming his election, the Patriarch praised Pope Francis as a humble man, recalling that his connection with the Ukrainian Catholics goes back a long way.
“Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil,” Patriach Shevchuk said.
“During his time as a student of the Salesian school, [he] awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.
“The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine … The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality. Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy.
“Our Eparchy in Argentina is … suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires … Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help.
“Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.
“In regards to the personality of the new Holy Father – he is an incredibly modest person. He mostly stands out in his enormous care for the less-fortunate, visiting the most impoverished neighborhoods. He is a person, I would say, of great pastoral foundation.
“Pope Francis is an incredibly deep intellectual. I can attest to the fact that his homilies are quite short, sometimes no longer than five or six sentences, but he manages to fill them with such deep meaning, always leaving the faithful in silent contemplation upwards of five-to-seven minutes.”