Vatican City (Fides Service) – The first Congress for Catholic Laity in Eastern Europe, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will be held from 8-12 October in Kiev, Ukraine. Some 300 people are expected to attend. Participants will include lay delegations from 14 countries, formerly members of the Soviet Union led by their bishops, members of church movements and associations active in the region, representatives of Catholic organisation which collaborate with the Churches in eastern Europe, as well as members and consultors of the Pontifical Council. In agreement with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, fraternal observers have been invited from other Churches and communions.
The Congress is part of a series of regional and continental Congresses for Catholic Laity which the Pontifical Council has already organised in Asia, Oceania, Central America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East with the aim of reawakening among the baptised awareness of their Christian identity and their mission in the world. The effects of decades of atheist propaganda in eastern Europe places the Church before a vast task of education and formation. The challenges facing the Churches in those countries in the religious field are just as important as those posed by the creation and consolidation of democratic structures in socio-political life and the changeover to a market economy.
The main objective of the Kiev Congress is to encourage the laity to rediscover their identity and to do this by undertaking, with the guidance of their bishops and priests, the study and assimilation of Church teaching and especially of the Vatican II teaching on christifideles laity. In this context, special attention will be given to the indispensable participation of the laity in the life of the parish community, the importance in the Church’s mission of lay associations, criteria for a proper participation of the laity in the life of the Church and in the world.
The congress will open on 8 October with an address by Cardinal James Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and greetings from Cardinal Lubomyr Husar Archbishop Major of Lviv of the Ukrainians and Cardinal Marian Jaworski Archbishop di Lviv of the Latins. This will be followed by reports from national delegations: Russia, Ukraine, Belo Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The congress will continue with conferences, round table debates, testimony and work groups, surrounded by an atmosphere of prayer beginning with daily Mass both Greek Catholic and Latin rites. A special moment will be a Commemoration of Martyrs on Saturday 1, presided by Cardinal Lubomyr Husar. On Sunday 12 October Cardinal James Francis Stafford, will preside a solemn Mass to close the Congress. At the end of the Mass copies of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici, will be distributed to all delegations. SL (Fides Service 30/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 501)