Statement of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA on the 241st Anniversary of US Independence
Reverend brothers in the Holy Priesthood, beloved brothers and sisters if Christ, spiritual children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA:
Blessed Independence Day!
As citizens and residents of this great nation from coast to coast, we celebrate this Independence Day weekend with family, friends, food, and fireworks; however, let us not forget to celebrate our freedoms, as well, and how blessed we are to live in this great nation. Let’s celebrate by reflecting upon the spirit of solidarity, understanding, togetherness and humanity of all people in the country.
Our country upholds the truth that ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ There is no other land on earth that advances the virtues of liberty and freedom for all.
Our nation’s Founding Fathers envisioned a country, which would possess its own uniqueness, governed by its people on the principles of fair and free democracy, with a future shaped by its own citizens, and laws that manifest the will of the people. We thank Almighty God for the many blessings He has showered upon our nation and for the relative peace and harmony we enjoy in this beloved country of ours. We are appreciative of the various developments that have been achieved for the progress of our nation.
We thank the brave men and women who have fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy, and we ask God to protect those who are protecting us today.
As Americans, we generally understand, caring and charitable, as noticed by compassionate responses of our citizens to various natural, economic and political disasters throughout the world.
However, our country is at a crossroads, and the Church is facing unprecedented challenges. We find ourselves in a position in which prayer and prayerful action are absolutely necessary to combat the rapid social, moral movements and policy changes currently underway in the modern world, our country and in our culture.
We call upon the faithful and all people of goodwill to play their rightful role in their duty as citizens and residents of this country. The Christian community, guided by the teachings and direction of the Church, are called to uphold spiritual and moral values as we live out our obligation to enhance peace and harmony in our society. Lawmakers and those who implement the law are urged to exercise their civil duties, with fear of God and respect for the human person.
Setting aside the challenges that currently face our nation, today we encourage the faithful of our Holy Church to focus on the humble appreciation we should have as Americans. Remember that our vast and remarkable nation began 241 years ago as a noble idea; planted like a seed by a brave group who believed in a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Over generations, we have fostered the growth of this idea and shaped its expansion. We have protected the concept of liberty, fought for it, and the loyal men and women of our Armed Forces have selflessly carried the torch of freedom to those whose lives have been darkened by tyranny.
The political issues that occasionally divide us are insignificant when held up to the unifying American spirit that binds us to each other, a shared past, and a promising future.
As you enjoy celebrating the holiday, take a moment to reflect on the fact that God has truly blessed this land. As we celebrate America’s birthday, let us take the time to thank God Almighty for the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
As Ukrainian Americans and Orthodox Christians we celebrate this freedom. We recognize the blessings that freedom has provided to our families and ourselves as we live, work, and worship in this country. We also recognize the value of freedom in emphasizing our heritage and identity. We are free to share this cherished heritage in an environment that values freedom of expression and the open sharing of ideas and diversity.
We have much to offer from our historic heritage. As members of this society and as Orthodox Christians we know we are truly free when our pursuits and goals are not for ourselves but for the benefit and spiritual well-being of others and for the honor and glory of God.
Have a blessed, happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!
By the Grace of God Metropolitan of the UOC of the USA and Diaspora
By the Grace of God Archbishop of the UOC of the USA