Patriarch Sviatoslav: Identity of UGCC is a testimony of the church when Christianity was not divided
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk said in an interview with RISU that the identity of the UGGC is “the identity of Kyivan Christianity during Volodymyr's baptism, when the newly established church on the lands of Kyivan Rus’ was also a subsidiary of the church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and, on the other hand, in communion with the Apostolic See.” According to the primate, the identity of the UGCC is “a testimony of the church when Christianity was not divided,” and throughout the ages it faced various dangers and sometimes was not even recognized as a church.
The head of the UGCC said that in the third millennium the church should live this identity. He explained that the UGCC wants to be open “not only to all who live in Ukraine today, but also to other nations, nationalities, even other religions,” to an interchuch and interethnic dialogue.
The primate explained that the church understands “that Kyivan Christianity from the very beginning strived to be a powerful center of Christianity on par with Rome, Constantinople, and later Moscow.” According to Patriarch Sviatoslav, the UGCC should show how important and relevant Volodymyr’s baptism is for ecumenical Christianity.
The patriarchate of the UGCC remains an important question. “We still must strive to take this path to the end, and then obtain the name of the Patriarchal Church; then our identity will be clear to all,” said the primate. “The patriarchate is a structure that to a certain extent will help to protect our church from dissolving into the huge sea of the Catholic world.”
Patriarch Sviatoslav also hopes that the UGCC has begun a constructive dialogue with the authorities, especially with the president of Ukraine after his meeting with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches on April 21. “We'll try to dialogize, cooperate for the benefit of Ukraine and the Ukrainian state, but we do not want to be used as party propaganda,” said Bishop Sviatoslav.
As for the future of the churches of the Kyivan tradition, the head of the UGCC believes that “we should reflect on and actively implement the strategy outlined by His Beatitude Lubomyr in his programmatic sermon: ‘One people of God on the land of the hills of Kyiv.’”
“In my opinion, the deeper and more fully we will discover the deep roots of Kyivan Christianity, the closer we will come to each other. We will then realize that we have much more in common than what divides us, as said the Blessed Pope John XXIII.”