Filaret Thinks Pope Will Bring Ukraine Closer to the West

22.05.2001, 09:29
His Holiness Filaret, Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine (Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate), told Polish journalists during a meeting on May 19 that he thinks the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ukraine will strengthen the country's pro-Western orientation.

Filaret told KAI, Poland's Catholic Information Agency, that he fully supports the visit of the head of the Catholic Church and hopes that it will improve ecumenical relations in Ukraine. He thinks this will help the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, namely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), to come out of their isolation. To the present date the Orthodox world does not recognize the canonical status of these two Churches because of the fierce resistance of the Moscow Patriarchate. Responding to questions from the journalists, Filaret contrasted the attitude of the Kyivan Patriarchate of Ukraine with that of Russia's Moscow Patriarchate towards the government. Filaret maintains that the Russian Orthodox Church serves as an instrument of the imperial politics of the Russian government and so its activities are subordinated to state interests. He claims the fate of Ukraine is the political and ecclesiastical key to maintaining the imperial character of Russia. With Vladimir Putin's rise to power, he says, the Russian Orthodox Church became even more dependent on the government. The UOC-KP, in contrast, supports the neutrality of the Church in government affairs and expects a similar policy from the civil authorities. "Though the Ukrainian Church does not take direct part in political life, at the same time it supports the desires of this people for autonomy and independence," emphasized Patriarch Filaret. He said that, in this regard, the position of the UOC-KP is comparable to that of the Catholic Church in Poland. In this area the Kyivan Patriarchate is also close to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which plays an important role in keeping the nation united. But he noted that he does not consider a union like that of the Greek Catholic Church with the Roman Catholic Church as the way to unite the Churches in the future. He hopes that the Pope's pilgrimage to Ukraine and his meeting with the heads of the UOC-KP and UAOC may lead to canonical recognition for these Churches, closer relations and, finally, the union of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine.