Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pat. Sviatoslav: Greek Catholics a thorn in side of opposition

More than a few Orthodox will find some of his statements erroneous or inflammatory. I ask that you comment with civility. The idea of unification of Eastern Catholics and Orthodox is difficult to imagine for many, disingenuous to some, and the very existence of Greek Catholics in Ukraine suspect to others.

(RISU) - “Reconciliation between our churches will help the Russian and Ukrainian people understand one another. As often happens between neighbors, we have many mutual historical problems, but we cannot build a future without Christian communication. The process of reconciliation will also help overcome Ukrainophobia in Russia and stop the Russification of Ukraine,” Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), said in an interview with KAI (Catholic Information Agency).

Talking about the relationship of the UGCC with the UOC-MP, the head of the church said that until now there has only been informal discussion. “Furthermore, we believe that we are the heirs of the same tradition of the Kyivan Church, that we originate from the same Baptism of Rus’, the 1025th anniversary of which we are celebrating this year,” he said.

Now, according to the head of the UGCC, Greek Catholics seek understanding and reconciliation with the Orthodox to “keep to their roots and bear witness to Christ.”

As for ecumenical cooperation of the UGCC, Patriarch Sviatoslav said that in this respect the testimonies of the UGCC martyrs are important because they were “martyrs for the unity of the church.”

“Our church is a thorn in the side for those who do not seek true unity. My predecessor, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, said that the biggest obstacle to the unity of the church is that not everyone wants it. We feel it is not good when we are separated, in the Catholic Church, and in relations with the Orthodox. Our mission is to remind about our unity,” he continued.

The Primate of the UGCC supported his statement with an example. He said Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said that the Orthodox Church is interested in forming a strategic alliance with the Catholic Church to come together and bear witness to traditional moral values. However, according to the metropolitan, we have to tolerate each other, work together, but not unite.

“I was recently in Istanbul, where I met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. I was surprised by his openness and desire to unite our churches. He did not treat us as Uniates that interfere with the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. We saw the great patriarch and his desire to seek church unity,” said the Patriarch Sviatoslav. (see here)

According to the Primate of the UGCC, Greek Catholics should seriously think about how to do the will of Jesus Christ, “so that all may be one.”


  1. I know they mean well, but it kinda irks me when papists say "we want unity" when they really mean "we want you to cave in to the Bishop of Rome."

    I mean, even a non-Orthodox dilettante like me knows good and well why Hilarion is only interested in an ecumenism of the trenches. It looks less than forthright when he complains about a lack of unity without addressing the real theological and ecclesial considerations. Instead he tries to make it sound as if the cool kids don't want to hang out with him.

    Call me back when you're ready to declare Vatican I a robber council.

  2. One can't help to wonder, given the command of Christ to be united and the fact that we share a common Eucharistic table, what imagined good could be gained by remaining estranged?

  3. Both Maximos the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas agree that the Filiqoue controversy was a misunderstanding of linguistic nuance and not ontological.

    Gregory Palamas' feast day is celebrated by the Byzantine Catholic Churches and his Essence Energy distinction is considered orthodox teaching.

    John Meyendorff said if Orthodox had the same understanding of original sin as Catholics, the Immaculate Conception would be acceptable to them, however, the Orthodox and Byzantines already acknowledge her as the Panagia.

    Really, the only thing I feel that truly separates us, should be the papacy, in which Byzantines find common cause with the Orthodox in seeking a way to view the Papacy in light of the First Millenium of the Christian Church and the First and Second Vatican Councils.

  4. The real issue of disunity is the role of the papacy in the life of the Church. When we finds common ground regarding the role of the Bishop of Rome, then, only then will the other issues become resolved, for they all rely on the assent if not the active promulgation of the papacy.