Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants in Ukraine today are more united than ever before, Head of the UGCC
This is the opinion that Patriarch Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) the UGCC expressed on October 23, during a briefing on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of legalization of the UGCC. The head of the UGCC also commented on yesterday’s words of Patriarch Filaret that someone wanted to put at odds Greek Catholics and Orthodox of the Kyiv Patriarchate.
Note that the reason for that was spreading by the media of the UGCC Patriarch’s words taken out of context that referred to “canonicity” of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine. In an interview with The Catholic Channel Patriarch Sviatoslav said: “Today it is no secret that the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine, that is the one in full communion with World Orthodoxy is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. There are other Orthodox religious communities, which have emerged in the time of independence of Ukraine, at different times and for different reasons, and have dissented from this Patriarchate; other Orthodox Churches consider them non-canonical.”
In an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan Patriarch Sviatoslav suggested that the religious situation in Ukraine was not so easy for foreigners to understand. “Yes, he said, in Ukraine there really exists the ‘canonical Church’, which the other Orthodox Churches recognize – the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in union with the Moscow Patriarchate. But we also have a large community of the Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, which is non-canonical for Orthodox world. And also there is a small community of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which is also considered non-canonical. But despite this, we try to be open to all.”
Instead, the Ukrainian media spread information that “the hierarch said that the UOC (MP) is the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine.”
“I have stressed and I want to stress once again now that we feel absolutely profound respect for all denominations existing in Ukraine,” said the Head of the UGCC.
“It became quite obvious for me that someone really wants to extend this conflict, which now exists in Ukraine between the Ukrainian society and the external aggressor, to religious grounds, thus fuelling the inter-religious and inter-confessional conflict in Ukraine. And here I agree with Patriarch Filaret that someone really wants to put the religious environment at odds. And today I say – you lose! We understand it and won’t rise to provocations,” said Patriarch Sviatoslav.
“Today we, the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic and Protestant Churches, are all unified as never before. This unity in the religious environment, such practical ecumenism that we have today, has probably never existed for the past 25 years,” the hierarch summed up.