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Russian Church: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is stumbling block in East-West relations

August 02, 20:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian Orthodox Church believes that the Greek Catholic leaders are trying again to drive a wedge between the Orthodox Christians and the Catholics
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©  Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church is breeding discord and hatred in relations between the Orthodox and Catholic churches and systematically hinders reconciliation between the East and the West, as follows from a statement the external relations department of the Russian Orthodox Church published on Tuesday after the mass religious peace procession in Ukraine.

Faith and politics

"Canonical Orthodoxy still remains a target for ferocious attacks by the Uniat leaders. For many centuries the Uniats tried to do away with Orthodoxy with the help of the secular authorities, when it was possible, or with the use of all sorts of insinuations, forgeries and deceit," the statement runs. The Russian Orthodox Church believes that "again and again, in defiance of the agreements achieved at the cost of great efforts at the high level between the Orthodox and Catholic churches the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine repeatedly positions itself as a force that breeds enmity and hatred and systematically hinders reconciliation between the East and the West."

"These days the Greek Catholic leaders are trying again to drive a wedge between the Orthodox Christians and the Catholics and to prevent the normalization of inter-church relations and the development of the dialog in Ukraine," the ROC said, adding that any initiative of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, even such a noble one as the pan-Ukrainian religious procession, aroused merely frenzied attacks by the Greek Catholics."

The ROC calls for getting back to the theme of canonical and ministerial effects of uniatism at the forthcoming full-scale meeting of the joint commission for Orthodox-Catholic dialogue due on September 15-22.

Response to the pan-Ukrainian procession

The ROC statement follows criticism of the pan-Ukrainian religious procession from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, whose Major Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk said in an interview the procession was a pro-Russian political campaign and asked the Ukrainian security service SBU to "pay attention" to the clerics of the Moscow Patriarchate, because "their behavior is in many cases incompatible with the status of the Ukrainian citizen."

"These statements by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, unworthy of an archbishop and of a Christian in general and aimed at inciting inter-confessional discord and reminiscent of political slander cannot but arouse anger and indignation in the hearts of Orthodox believers," the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations department said.

Churches in Ukraine

Orthodoxy in Ukraine is represented by three churches - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the unrecognized Kiev Patriarchate and also the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. A year ago the latter agreed to unite with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate to form a local Orthodox church. Formally, the unification has not taken place yet.

All-Ukrainian religious procession

The all-Ukrainian procession for peace, love and prayer for Ukraine began at a monastery in the east of Ukraine on July 3, and at another monastery in the west of Ukraine on July 9. The two columns of pilgrims met in a square in the center of Kiev on July 27. Metropolitan Onufriy held a prayer attended by a crowd of ten thousand.

After that a long procession of 80,000 to 100,000 marched towards the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery. In the evening the believers began an overnight vigil near the monastery’s Cathedral of the Assumption.

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