Cardinal Husar Says Roman Bureaucracy Hinders Catholic-Orthodox Unity
In his speech, the cardinal emphasized current relations between the Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. Regarding a possible meeting between Pope John Paul II and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II, Cardinal Husar said that 20 years ago no one hoped that the USSR would ever collapse, and therefore the consolidation of Christians might also be sudden and unexpected. “What has to happen? What has to change? We all do,” stressed the cardinal. “However, we need to follow the example of John Paul II, whose ecumenical consciousness and patience are indeed exceptional.” Cardinal Husar also cited the words of Ukrainian Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, who in 1915 said, “We are not divided into Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Anglicans. We are divided into those who want unity and those who don’t want it.” The cardinal said, “Today, a worthwhile question is whether we want unity, or whether we want believers from a different church to join us, since the difference is great.” In addition, Cardinal Husar explained his vision of ecumenism. According to him, “everyone remains himself and preserves his own identity, but everyone recognizes one visible center, which, as we believe, is the successor of St. Peter the Apostle and has to be perceived as a visible symbol of unity between the apostles and, through them, of the entire church.” The Ukrainian Greek Catholic cardinal sees the bureaucracy of the Roman Curia and not the primacy of the Pope as the major problem of ecumenism. “I assume we lack the courage to say the following truth loudly. We have to distinguish between the Pope and the Curia,” said Cardinal Husar. “They all are very good people, many of whom I know personally. However, bureaucracy has a tendency to ascribe too much importance to itself.” Speaking of ecumenical hopes, the cardinal admitted he was a pessimist, because many political obstacles stand in the way of consolidation. The Moscow Patriarchate, for instance, considers the territories of the former Soviet Union to be its canonical territories and thus eastern Slavs should “undoubtedly” belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. Cardinal Husar attributes such claims of Moscow Orthodoxy to the failure it suffered in these territories, having lost many believers since 1989. On the other hand, ecumenical dialogue is not easy, because the Moscow Patriarchate is convinced that all real Serbs, Greeks, Russians and Ukrainians have to be Orthodox. The existence of Greek Catholics contradicts this conviction, hence the pressure on the UGCC to join Orthodoxy or Rome, as well as the pressure on the Pope to repudiate the UGCC. Cardinal Husar also said he was impressed with the patience of Pope John Paul II regarding Russia. “Sometimes I get the feeling that one should strike the table with a clenched fist and say ‘Enough of that!’ We have to deal with a lack of culture and tact, and sometimes even lies… There are so many outrageous things and His Holiness takes them all with exceptional patience and with awareness. So I truly hope that the grace of God will prevail,” said the cardinal. He also noted that, on their way to unity, Christians often place theological obstacles that in fact are insignificant. “If we accepted the other person unreservedly and unconditionally, and if Jesus was in the first place for us, then we would achieve the long-awaited and desired unity,” stressed Cardinal Husar. On 15 October, the head of the UGCC was awarded a medal of the Lublin Union for his considerable contributions towards the realization of dialogue between East and West. The award was established in 1999 to mark the 430th anniversary of the Lublin Union. Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, is also among the winners of this award. At the request of Cardinal Husar, the award ceremony began with a prayer for conciliation between Poland and Ukraine. “Europe should breathe with two lungs, but we have to bear in mind that it needs one heart. Behind different lifestyles, we should develop a common understanding that we all stand on the grounds of the Christian tradition,” said Cardinal Husar.