UGCC is the only Church that preserved continuity of Kyivan tradition, Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko)syays
In an interview for the newspaper Verhovinsky novyny Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko), ruling bishop ofKharkiv-Poltava Eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Renewed), expressed his views on the search of a model of interchurch relations in Ukraine, “Religion in Ukraine” reports.
Asked by journalists if the delay of unificationof the UAOC with the UOC KP may contribute to religious chaos in Ukraine, Archbishop Igor said: “We must bring up this issue in a different perspective. First let us think: may be what you call chaos in religious life in Ukraine is a gift of God? When we talk about the Church, we must remember that it is actually led by Christ – or it is not achurch. If we act against the will of Christ, we cannot expect any unifying projects being a success.”
He repeated the idea he had previously expressed that the UGCC was the main guardian of the Kyivan church tradition. “Do not forget that the only church that really has preserved the continuity of the Kyivan tradition –is the Greek Catholic Church. All the Orthodox churches that exist here, unfortunately, brokewith the tradition after 1686, when our church was subordinated to Moscow and rapidly assimilated with it. In the secluded environment of Galicia, the Greek Catholic Church was able to carefully nurture the Kyivanlocal traditionwithout being dissolved in Polish Catholicism. From the end of the XIX century, largely thanks to Metropolitan AndriySheptytskyy, whose anniversary we are now celebrating, itstarted regaining those features of Ukrainian identity, which we all now need in Ukraine.”
According to Archbishop Igor, this is an extremely important factor in the formation of the Ukrainian national church. “The local Church cannot be reduced to administrative unity. If the establishment of the church structure is an end in itself, it is useless. If the sound parts of each Church are trying to unite to create a healthy body of the nation, which requires it now, then the Church unity will be guaranteed. This is now the position of the entire Kharkiv-Poltava Eparchy of UAOC: the local Church is impossible without the church unity. This is the position thatwas determined in April this yearby our diocesan council. Now we have a gradual but purposeful and productive dialogue with the leadership of the UGCC. We haveset working groups that cooperate with each other. The Diocesan Council, which took place in early July, confirmed the efficiency of this way.”
Archbishop also spoke on the “Galician separatism.” According to him, the “Galician separatism manifested itself in certain periods and had a destructive impact on Ukraine. To some extent, the phenomenon of Galician separatism can be seen in Russophilism. Now Russophilism looks funny for us and seemsa phenomenon of the past, but it reflects a very dangerous tendency in itself, localization of value priorities, ignoring the space outside Galicia. This approach is typical today of some politicians who consider "the beyond-Zbruch Ukraine”to be a burden on the feet of “pro-European" Galicia.”
Archbishop Ihor (Isichenko) liked the phrase of the UGCC former head Lubomyr (Husar), who spoke of a ‘heresy of Galicianism’ in the Church. “It is in an effort to emphasize the superiority of Western tradition, to oppose it to the East and say that the East is less spiritual as compared with Galicia. Only a very superficial person can ignore the fact that often the true values are hidden behind a seemingly inconspicuoussurface. The East had to hideits inner lifefor many centuries of the Russian occupation. The shocks like the famine of 1932-33, the genocide, which began after the occupation, have taught us to keep our inner world under a strong lock and to avoid demonstrating it to strangers. We need to understand all that and help the eastern Ukrainians to come into the open showing sincere attitude to them,” said the ruling bishop of theKharkiv-Poltava Eparchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (Renewed).