10/24/2016, 16.09
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Vatican and the Orthodox Church neutral in the conflict in Ukraine

by Nina Achmatova

The Patriarchate of Moscow makes this point after a meeting between the new apostolic nuncio to Russia and Metropolitan Hilarion. For years, the Russian Orthodox Church has accused Greek Catholics of promoting anti-Russian positions and supporting the Maidan protests in Kyiv.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church rule out any possibility of supporting one of the parties involved in the military conflict in Ukraine.

the issue was raised in the meeting between Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to Russia, the Interfax reported citing the Synodal Department’s Communication Service.

"They agreed that the Churches should act as peace mediators between the conflicting sides rather than side with a particular party to the conflict," the report said.

During the meeting, Metropolitan Hilarion expressed appreciation of the stance taken by Pope Francis and the Vatican on the situation in Ukraine.

Moscow Patriarch Kirill too had expressed “with satisfaction that the Holy See itself has always pursued a balanced stance toward the situation in Ukraine and has avoided any lop-sided assessments, but has called for peace talks and an end to armed clashes”.

The historic joint statement that followed the February meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill in Cuba also referred to the Greek Catholics, who are disparagingly called ‘Uniates’ by the Russians.

Against the background of the Ukrainian crisis, starting in 2013, the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate attacked Greek Catholic positions several times for backing protests in Kyiv’s Maidan Square and promoting anti- Russian feeling.

Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major-Archbishop of Kyiv, has always rejected the accusations, calling for reconciliation, and for Moscow to recognise the dignity of the Ukrainian people and open a sincere dialogue based on truth and not Russia’s “propaganda”.

Mgr Shevchuk was very critical of Cuba statement, especially where it invites the Churches in Ukraine "to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.”

"Point 26 is the most controversial," the prelate said. "One gets the impression that the Patriarchate of Moscow refuses to recognize that it is part of the conflict, which openly supports the aggression of Russia against Ukraine and blesses the military actions of Russia in Syria as a 'holy war',” he noted.

“The very expression 'conflict' here is dark and seems to suggest to the reader that there is a 'civil war', rather than an aggression by a neighboring state."

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