UGCC head: Tragedy of Orthodox Church in Western Ukraine not caused by our existence or our presence
- Created on 14 June 2012
Patriarch Sviatoslav was asked by journalist from the Polish news agency KAI about the relationship between the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) and the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and how to establish a dialogue between these churches.
The UGCC head has repeatedly stated that a key issue for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the dialogue with the Orthodox Church, especially with the Moscow Patriarchate, because the UGCC is not against its Orthodox brethren. As for the ROC, they always accuse the Greek Catholics that in the 90s in Western Ukraine they took churches from the Moscow Patriarchate.
In this regard, the head of the UGCC said: "Above all, we must put an end to inefficient conversations and review common strategies. If we want an agreement, then we must realize that some methods used in the past have been ineffective. For example, calls for the liquidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. It is impossible, because this church exists by the will of God, which the Blessed John Paul II repeated many times.”
According to Patriarch Sviatoslav, the Moscow Patriarchate is not always based on proven historical facts: "For example, Metropolitan Hilarion several times repeated that in the 90s we took from them 500 churches in Western Ukraine. This must be the biggest obstacle for a meeting between the pope and the Patriarch of Moscow."
The head of the UGCC said that in March of this year during an audience with the pope, he gave the exact statistics of the Orthodox churches in Western Ukraine: "In those regions where, according to Metropolitan Hilarion such incidents took place, today there are more than two thousand Orthodox churches. But only two hundred of them belong to the Orthodox Church that is in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. Other Orthodox churches in western Ukraine belong to other Orthodox Churches that Moscow does not recognize as canonical. This means that the tragedy of the Orthodox Church in Western Ukraine is not caused by our existence and our presence but by the division among the Orthodox. If the Orthodox Church were united, it would have four times as many churches than Metropolitan Hilarion says there are. And where did these two thousand churches come from? A third are Roman Catholic churches that were given to the Orthodox; another third are our churches that Stalin after World War II gave to the Orthodox, when our church was banned. The rest were built by the Orthodox. So I do not understand what the problem is. We are always open to a dialogue, as already stated my predecessor, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, and do not forbid anyone to build a church or belong to this or that religion. We demand only justice and recognition of our right to exist. "