Head of the OCU Epifaniy comments on the possible visit of the Pope to Ukraine
He said this in an interview with Radio Liberty.
OCU Primate Epifaniy expressed the opinion that the appointment of religious scholar Andriy Yurash as Ukraine's Ambassador to the Vatican may contribute to the preparation of the visit.
"Relations between Ukraine and the Vatican, if there is no ambassador, of course, are perhaps even incomplete. Therefore, a truly responsible person has now been appointed, who has joined many of the processes that took place in 2018, so that the historic Unification Council, three years of which we celebrated yesterday, can take place. Therefore, I am convinced that Andriy Yurash will be a worthy representative of Ukraine in the Vatican and will do a lot of useful things to ensure that the Pope's visit to Ukraine takes place, which is now being discussed a lot, but there are no such specifics yet," he said.
Metropolitan Epifaniy pointed out that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has not yet received any notifications regarding the approval of the pontiff's visit.
"There is such a tradition: if the Pope visits an Orthodox country, he will certainly coordinate it with the dominant Church in this state. The dominant Orthodox Church in the Ukrainian state is the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, this is its canonical territory, so we expect that if the Pope really decides... Although we also talked for three years about the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, this did not happen immediately. There was first a statement, the Patriarch said that he would come, he was ready, but it took time. This time has come and, I think, the time will come when the Pope will also visit Ukraine," the head of the OCU added.
He also commented on the suggestion that the Pope's visit may affect the end of the war in the Donbas, which was previously reported by Patriarch Svyatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
"God grant that this will happen. But it depends on many factors, not on a single visit from a particular figure, even a well-known figure. We know where the key to solving this issue is – it is in Moscow, with Putin. The Pope said that he was ready to act as an intermediary, perhaps in this vein. But we now see that the situation is quite difficult, difficult, and there is a certain amount of blackmail, intimidation, and bringing troops to the Ukrainian border on the part of Russia. But, with God's help, I think that the continuation of this escalation, which is in the Donbas, should not take place," Epifaniy hopes.
On December 1, the head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that he is waiting for Pope Francis' visit to Ukraine although it has not yet been officially announced.
On December 12, Pope Francis called for a serious international dialogue to relieve tension in Ukraine due to the build-up of Russian troops near its border.