Head of UGCC Calls to Stop Blaming Greek Catholics
In his address at the national scholarly conference “The Essence and Manifestations of Interdenominational Relations in Ukraine,” which was held on November 30 through December 1 in Kyiv, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Patriarch Lubomyr, touched upon the subject of Greek Catholics and called to overcome stereotypical ideas that it is Greek Catholics that are the problem for reaching agreements between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Pope.
“A mention was made of those wretched Greek Catholics, Uniates, who are to blame for everything. If they did not exist, there would be peace and quiet. But as you know, the pope and the Patriarch of Moscow cannot reach ab agreement on many other things,” stressed Patriarch Lubomyr.
The head of the UGCC stressed that he, personally, does not know the answer to the question, what is "uniatism"? and asked to prove the fault of the Greek Catholics.
“What wrong have we done and continue to do and to whom? Please, prove it by documents, even in court, if you wish. Another very important thing about the relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Let me make a somewhat dramatic statement: for some reason, I suspect that our desire to reach real unity is weak. If we wanted unity very much, we would have already reached it. We on all sides are not ready to make big sacrifices for the sake of real unity between Christians. All of us, Christians, do not want it enough,” concluded the head of the UGCC.
According to him, the interchurch committee including the Catholics and all the Orthodox Churches, which since the 1970s has worked with interruptions but returned to the round table, functions only at the level of theologians and bishops whereas it should all be done at the level of all people.
“We have also bad experiences. Take for instance the Union of Florence. The bishops reached agreement. So what? There was no result. It may happen again. The fact that bishops and theologians gather and sign several documents will not make a substantial difference. The difference is that people should aspire. And people should be taught for that,” stressed the patriarch.
The head of the UGCC stressed that today Greek Catholic are faced with a task to present the position of the Eastern Christians in the west and to be a bridge between the East and West: “You see, we are the unfortunate Greek Catholics on the border between the two great cultures – the Byzantine and Latin ones, between Roman Catholicism and confessional Orthodoxy – as we consider ourselves the Orthodox in unity with the Apostolic See. Let me assure you that we make concrete steps in Rome to present the position of the Eastern Christians. Three weeks ago, a session of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Unity Between Christians was held, which was headed by Cardinal Casper and is now headed by Cardinal Koch. I was present at the session and was one of the representatives of the Eastern Church who spoke of the problems which really hinder us to prevent the theological difficulties from being real difficulties. In short, let me assure you that we are doing what we can. And if you can, support us by prayer, please.”
The conference was organized by the State Committee of Ukraine on Matters of Nationalities and Religions, Religious Studies Department of the Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Drahomanov National Pedagogical University, and Ukrainian Association of Religious Study Experts.