Ukrainian Orthodox Church-MP Not Happy about UGCC’s Pastoral Care in Eastern Ukraine
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) acknowledges that there are no conflicts with the Greek Catholics of Galicia, but in other regions of Ukraine the relations with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) are not straightforward.
This was stated by Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC-MP, Archbishop Mitrofan (Yurchuk) of Luhansk and Alchevsk in comment to Orthodoxy in Ukraine on the visit the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch.
“Thank God, today, between us there no longer are such severe confrontations that occurred 20 years ago. In particular, in Galicia, where, first of all, there were clashes on religious grounds, but today the situation has stabilized ... Although, of course, the absence of conflicts between the Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Galicia does not mean there is an absence of problems in the relations with the UGCC in general,” he said.
The archbishop of Luhansk and Alchevsk admitted that the UOC-MP is now worried about the Greek Catholics’ activity in central and eastern Ukraine.
“Lately we have seen conflicts not in Galicia but in other regions, particularly in central and eastern Ukraine,” said the hierarch.
Bishop Mitrofan said that the church even complained about this to the leadership of the UGCC.
“Unfortunately, we still cannot say that the leadership of the UGCC takes into account the position of our church. In particular, a month ago, on May 9, 2013, the head of the UGCC Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk in his speech at the Second Congress of the Laity of the Kyiv-Halych Metropolitanate of the UGCC quite frankly stated that the priority for the UGCC today is ‘evangelization in Eastern Ukraine!’” he said.
According to him, the UOC-MP does not deny the UGCC the right to care for their faithful who live in various regions of Ukraine.
“However, we insist that Ukraine should follow the agreements that were made in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Namely, we have to prevent cases of proselytism, i.e., enticing the Orthodox flock to join the UGCC. Unfortunately, such incidents have taken place,” said the archbishop.
The head of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC-MP also reported that Cardinal Koch during his visit to Ukraine met with Metropolitan Volodymyr and the administrator of the UOC-MP Metropolitan Anthony Pakanych of Boryspil. At these meetings the parties raised issues that are now arising in the relations between the Orthodox and Catholics in Ukraine.
Recall that the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, while in Ukraine, also noted that in recent times the number of accusations by the Orthodox of proselytism of Greek Catholics in western Ukraine has significantly decreased. However, he stressed that the question of proselytism is very complex and not every accusation has a real foundation.