Communist Leader Meets Russian Patriarch Alexis II

14.12.2001, 16:45
During a meeting on 6 December 2001, Petro Symonenko, head of the Communist Party of Ukraine (pictured at right), and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II discussed a wide spectrum of questions. Church-state relations, church divisions in Ukraine, the spiritual and moral state of society, and different aspects of the ecclesiastical and political situation in Ukraine were on the agenda.

P. Symonenko informed Alexis II about the position of the deputies of Ukraine’s Parliament regarding participation of the Patriarch of Constantinople in a possible resolution of Ukrainian church problems. According to Mr. Symonenko, the deputies wrote a letter to the Patriarch and asked him “to have no contacts with Ukrainian non-canonical groups without a program of common action with the Moscow Patriarchate. The Patriarch’s actions caused negative reactions from believers and undermined the prestige of the Church of Constantinople,” the letter stated. The first-ranking communist of Ukraine did not make clear that all the parliament’s deputies did not share this position. Symonenko declared his support for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and its negative attitude towards “non-canonical groups”: “We defend the canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine and condemn the authoritarian attitude of the state and local authorities towards the [UOC-MP].” Recently, Symonenko claimed in his article, “The Crusade against Ukraine,” that the Catholic Church maintains an aggressive policy towards Orthodoxy in Ukraine. He even blamed the USA for Orthodox divisions in the country. As Ukraine prepares for parliamentary elections in 2002, numerous politicians are attempting to gain the support of religious leaders.

Source: Press service of the UOC-MP,