Moscow Patriarchate cools the Vatican: "new Greek-catholic challenges" in Ukraine
by Nina Achmatova
The Russian Church denies the words of the nuncio in the Federation, according to whom the relations between Orthodox and "Uniates" have improved. Archpriest Sizonenko denounces expansionism and support for schismatics.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The question of the Greek-catholic church in Ukraine ('Uniate') continues to hinder ecumenical dialogue between Rome and Moscow. This was reiterated by the secretary of the department for inter-Christian relations of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, Archpriest Dmitry Sizonenko. Speaking to the Interfax-Religion agency the priest commented on the optimistic declarations about the improved relations between Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholics of the Eastern Rite (UGCC, who recognize the authority of the Pope), made by the Apostolic Nuncio in the Federation, Msgr. Ivan Yurkovich. The latter, interviewed by the NG-Religii newspaper, assured that "the difficulties of the early 90s have been overcome in many ways and today there are many points of contact between the two Churches, especially of an informal nature."

Archpriest Sizonenko agrees that some problems have been solved, but warns that today "there are new challenges." According to the priest, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (under the jurisdiction of Moscow) has expressed "concern" about attempts by Uniates (a term considered derogatory by the faithful of this name) "to establish and develop a structure in regions with an Orthodox majority ".

The representative of the Moscow Patriarchate also adds; the Greek-Catholics say they work for the unity of the Orthodox in Ukraine, but then "do the opposite". As an example, HE recalls the fact that the Major Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk - spiritual leader of the UGCC - has recently declared that he accepts the baptisms officiated in the churches of the Patriarchate of Kiev, not recognized by the Orthodox world. "In the context of the current situation in Ukraine - Father Dmitri points out - this sounds like proof of an interest to strengthen the positions of the schismatics."

After the end of the USSR and the independence of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has faced strong divisions that led to the coexistence of three Orthodox Churches with parallel hierarchies: the Orthodox Church linked, albeit with wide autonomy , to the Patriarchate of Moscow (the only one recognized by the other Orthodox communities), the Patriarchate of Kiev (formed around the figure of Filaret, who had formerly belonged to the Patriarchate of Moscow), the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine (strongly nationalistic).

 

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