Greek Catholic Head ‘Our church is a thorn in the side for those who do not seek true unity’
“Reconciliation between our churches will help the Russian and Ukrainian people understand one another. As often happens between neighbors, we have many mutual historical problems, but we cannot build a future without Christian communication. The process of reconciliation will also help overcome Ukrainophobia in Russia and stop the Russification of Ukraine,” Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), said in an interview with KAI (Catholic Information Agency).
Talking about the relationship of the UGCC with the UOC-MP, the head of the church said that until now there has only been informal discussion. “Furthermore, we believe that we are the heirs of the same tradition of the Kyivan Church, that we originate from the same Baptism of Rus’, the 1025th anniversary of which we are celebrating this year,” he said.
Now, according to the head of the UGCC, Greek Catholics seek understanding and reconciliation with the Orthodox to “keep to their roots and bear witness to Christ.”
As for ecumenical cooperation of the UGCC, Patriarch Sviatoslav said that in this respect the testimonies of the UGCC martyrs are important because they were “martyrs for the unity of the church.”
“Our church is a thorn in the side for those who do not seek true unity. My predecessor, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, said that the biggest obstacle to the unity of the church is that not everyone wants it. We feel it is not good when we are separated, in the Catholic Church, and in relations with the Orthodox. Our mission is to remind about our unity,” he continued.
The Primate of the UGCC supported his statement with an example. He said Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said that the Orthodox Church is interested in forming a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church to come together and bear witness to traditional moral values. However, according to the metropolitan, we have to tolerate each other, work together, but not unite.
“I was recently in Istanbul, where I met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. I was surprised by his openness and desire to unite our churches. He did not treat us as Uniates that interfere with the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. We saw the great patriarch and his desire to seek church unity,” said the Patriarch Sviatoslav.
According to the Primate of the UGCC, Greek Catholics should seriously think about how to do the will of Jesus Christ, “so that all may be one.”