Russian Church Unhappy About Good Relations Between Ukrainian Greek Catholics and Kyivan Patriarchate
Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church are concerned over the statements of Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk that believers of the Kyivan Patriarchate are “the main Orthodox brethren” of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeiev) of Volokolamsk, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, reported to UNIAN-Religion.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the statements of the new head of the UGCC that the believers of the Kyivan Patriarchate are 'the main Orthodox brethren' of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics. The close contacts and even concelebration of Archbishop Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) with representatives of that schismatic structure unrecognized by any Orthodox Church are, unfortunately, an indication of the ignorance of the official position of the Moscow Patriarchate and disrespect for the canonical rules of the Orthodox Church,” said Metropolitan Ilarion.
“I am deeply convinced that we cannot reach real mutual understanding and reconciliation between our churches without mutual respect, in particular, in the area of the canonical system,” said Metropolitan Ilarion.
He told the correspondent that the Russian Church receives reports “about acts of proselytism of Greek Catholics among the Orthodox in the territories of the Central and Eastern Ukraine.” “Such phenomena can only strengthen the existing problems in the interchurch relations while we would like the words about readiness for the dialogue not to conflict with the real actions,” said the metropolitan.
Metropolitan of Volokolamsk said that after the election of Patriarch Sviatoslav, official contacts were actually for the first time established between the Greek Catholics and Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate.
“Subsequent statements of Archbishop Sviatoslav about his will to resolve the existing problems between the Moscow Patriarchate and the UGCC also inspired us with some optimism,” he said.
Metropolitan Ilarion commented on the recent statement of Patriarch Kirill about the “improvement of the relations between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Ukraine.” According to him the patriarch’s words do not mean that all the problems in the relations are already regulated. “The questions of construction of the Orthodox churches in western Ukraine remain unsettled. Representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church express concern over the mission of Greek Catholics in eastern Ukraine,” said the metropolitan.