Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has defined the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, which every year falls up to date two weeks before the Great Lent, as a Day of special pastoral attention and prayer for prisoners themselves and for the other victims of crimes. The Gospel Reading on this Sunday (Luke 15:11-32) lays out one of the most important themes of the Lenten season: the history of falling into a sin, realization of one's sinfulness, the road to repentance, and finally reconciliation, each of which is illustrated in the course of the parable. This Sunday declared as a day to remember in prayers and support chaplains and volunteers, who work with great dedication to provide spiritual support for prisoners, helping them to step on the right path. The UGCC Synod invokes to remember in prayers workers of the Penitentiary system of Ukraine, who perform difficult tasks, because every day they are near of broken human destinies. On this occasion His Excellency Michael Koltun has prepared a pastoral letter. Here it is...
God is looking for every person regardless of the circumstances. God's justice condemns the evil but does not reject a man. Merciful Father is always waiting for the return of the Prodigal Son. That's why prison needs messengers of His grace. God became a man to enlighten even the darkest corners of human life.
Every society entrusts to the legitimate state authority to respond to crime by police services and justice system. We accept the need for punishment by imprisonment owing criminal transgressions, for the sake of relative comfort and security. It exists in order that offenders could realize the gravity of criminal acts, change their behavior and might return to normal social life. And also to warn others of offenses. Therefore, prison, unfortunately, will accompany human civilization as long as the world will exist. But in the reaction should be enough space for enduring and unconditional humanity to a person, with respect to one's human dignity. Just than could be a hope for ever return of an individual to normal coexistence with people.
Bishop of Sokal and Zhovkva,
the Chief of the UGCC Department for
Pastoral Care in the Armed Forces and
in the Penitentiary System of Ukraine