Patriarch Shevchuk: Moscow Must Hear Metropolitan Anthony's Words about the Stable Relations between the Greek Catholics and Orthodox in Galicia
Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, noted that in recent times the number of accusations of proselytism against Greek Catholics in western Ukraine from the Orthodox has significantly decreased.
He stated this on June 10 in Lviv during a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic University in response to a question by a RISU correspondent on whether the Vatican can stop Moscow from accusing the Greek Catholics of proselytism, as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) believes that it is currently on good terms with the Greek Catholics.
“These allegations by the Orthodox today are not heard as often as they were in the past,” said the cardinal.
Cardinal Kurt Koch said that the question of proselytism is very complex, because some accusations of proselytism are groundless.
“This issue is the problem of freedom of choice of the individual. Everyone has the right to choose the confession and church, which he wants to belong to. Therefore, these questions regarding the freedom of choice should be left to each individual,” he said
The head of the UGCC, Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who accompanied the distinguished guest at the Ukrainian Catholic University, expressed his wish for the allegations by the Russian Orthodox Church against the Greek Catholics to become a thing of the past.
“For 20 years we have been hearing the accusations, but the problems are only when there is a reluctance to have unity. The words of Metropolitan Anthony are extremely important and we hope that finally all the accusations against the Greek Catholics, which we hear from representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, become a thing of the past. We hope that this information, which is coming from a representative of the UOC-MP, will be heard in Moscow, by the Russian Orthodox Church. As for us, the Greek Catholics, we will always speak the truth, no matter how bitter it may be,” said the patriarch.
The issue of “proselytism by the UGCC” and the conflict between Greek Catholics and the Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Ukraine has always been raised by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church before the Vatican when there is discussion about establishing the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and the opportunity for the Patriarch of Moscow to meet with the pope. The favorite topic of the Russian Orthodox Church clergy is the “forced liquidation” of three Orthodox eparchies in Galicia in the early 1990s.
Meanwhile, on May 27, during the seventh Festival of Orthodox Media in Lviv, the administrator of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanych) of Boryspil said that in Galicia there is no tension between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics and the relationship between the two churches in this region is stable.