Moscow patriarchate responds to Ukrainian Greek Catholic leader


by Olga Lipich

RIA Novosti, 17 February 2016


The Unia in Ukraine is a "bridge that is mined at both ends," and Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill took a path that is the opposite to that which Uniates are taking, declared in an interview with RIA Novosti the chief organizer of the meeting of the patriarch and pope from the Orthodox side, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion.


"I think that the path that the pope and patriarch are now taking is directly opposite to the path that the Uniates [i.e., Greek Catholics--tr.] are taking. The Unia was thought up as a means of converting Orthodox believers into Catholicism by the path of deceit. The deception was that they retained the right to use their own rite, but at the same time they had to accept Catholic doctrines. Many did this, not at all aware that thereby they left the Orthodox church and transferred into the Catholic church," Metropolitan Ilarion said.


He said that the Unia brought very much suffering to the Orthodox, particularly in the grand principality of Lithuania and "it continues to leave an open wound on the body of world Christianity." He called as "indecent declarations" statements of the leader of the UGKTs, Archbishop Sviatoslav, who declared specifically that the joint declaration of the pope and patriarch was composed by "a weak team," that it contains "half of the truth," and that because of it many in Ukraine "feel themselves betrayed by the Vatican."


"Between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches a convergence is now occurring that does not have doctrinal, theological, or liturgical dimensions. It is based on the awareness that we cannot any longer view one another as competitors and should be allies and brothers. Against this background, the declarations coming from the lips of the head of the UGKTs throw us back into the situation when Orthodox believers and Catholics were not allies but competitors," the representative of the Moscow patriarchate noted.


He noted that Greek Catholics sometimes call themselves a "bridge" between two traditions, the eastern and western. "But it seems to turn out that this is a bridge that is mined at both ends. They cannot find a common language either with Orthodox believers or with their own church's leadership," the news agency's interlocutor concluded.


In October 1596, some of the bishops of the Kiev Orthodox metropolitanate led by Metropolitan Mikhail (a member of the Constantinople patriarchate) in the council of Brest made the decision to recognize the supreme jurisdiction of the Roman pope. The conditions of the Unia (a literal translation from Latin of the word "union") provided that while believers and clergy retained the Byzantine rite they recognized the authority of the pope and of Catholic doctrines. At the present time, Uniatism is followed by about4.5 million persons, primarily in western Ukraine and Belorussia.


The Russian Orthodox Church regularly calls attention to the actions of the UGKTs, whose representatives extend their mission onto traditionally Orthodox lands of eastern and southern Ukraine, support the so-called Kiev patriarchate which is not recognized by world Orthodoxy, and speak out with "anti-Russian and Russophobic slogans." (tr. by PDS, posted 18 February 2016)

Background article:
Ukrainian Catholics disappointed in pope-patriarch statement
February 14, 2016

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