Moscow (AsiaNews) - The non-admission of the Russian Orthodox Churches' complicity with the Soviet persecution of Greek-Catholics in Ukraine is undermining relations between the two Churches. The warning was voiced by the Archbishop of Kiev, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek-catholic Church. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate of Moscow has again confirmed that precisely the Greek-Catholic situation - Eastern Rite, but in communion with the Pope - is the biggest hurdle for the expected meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Benedict XVI.
"The ability to apologize shows a lively Christian conscience, which is a precondition for the so-called healing of memories," said Archbishop Shevchuk in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Den (Day). "The Russian Orthodox Church was used by Stalin's regime for the compulsory settlement of our church - he added - the fact there has been no symbolic reconciliation between us is really a serious obstacle to the development of mutual relations."
In 1946, two years after the occupation of Ukraine by the Red Army, with the council of Lviv orchestrated by Soviet power, the Greek-Catholic Church (Uniate) was outlawed, because it was considered - as opposed to orthodoxy - hostile to Moscow and to directly 'dependent' on the Vatican. Priests and bishops were sent to jail or labor camps, from where many did not return. More than 2,270 parishes were closed or transferred, and their property passed to the Orthodox. Patriarch Shevchuk has also reiterated that the discussion on the "pseudo-Synod of Lviv" is still "at a standstill."
The so-called Uniate issue (term, however, considered derogatory by those who follow this ritual) continues to hinder ecumenical dialogue between Rome and Moscow. This was admitted recently, by the head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hillarion. Commenting to TV Dozhd, on the possibility of a meeting between Kirill and Pope, Hilarion said that the encounter will take place only "when we feel that both parties are mature enough to bring real fruits and real change to better the situation of Christian Churches ". The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow has indicated in the "interfaith situation in western Ukraine," the main obstacle to the achievement of the expected event. The Patriarchate insists on this point, saying "we are waiting for concrete steps in this regard by the Catholic Church."