Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two sides to Orthodox-Greek Catholic relations in Ukraine

Moscow, February 7 (Interfax) - Apostolic Nuncio to Moscow Archbishop Ivan Yurkovich believes that problems in relations between Orthodox and Greek Catholics in western Ukraine have been leveled out today.

"Those difficulties of the early 1990s today have been eradicated in many ways and there are many contacts, especially of personal and informal character, between the two Churches," he said in his interview published by NG-Religii paper.

The nuncio noted that many people who knew the situation better than he did shared this opinion.

According to Yurkovich, who was the Vatican's representative to Ukraine in 2004-2011, "it is important not to draw attention to the past in nuncio's mission in countries with such a difficult history."

"I have always avoided historical arguments and suggested focusing on plans for the future," he said. "I have always been impressed how many Catholics in Ukraine and Byelorussia live in mixed marriages. It means that ordinary people live together quite naturally, without problems. They know good qualities of one another and are not afraid of marrying, though they remain faithful to their confession and live in confessional diversity."

Tense relations between Orthodox believers and Greek-Catholics (Uniates) in western Ukraine are one of the main obstacles in the dialogue between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church.
Sed contra...
Moscow, February 7 (Interfax) - The Russian Orthodox Church does not entirely share the optimism of the Vatican's representative to Russia Archbishop Ivan Yurkovich about improving relations between Orthodox believers and Uniates in Ukraine.

"In many ways, we managed to overcome difficulties in relations between Orthodox and Greek-Catholics in Ukraine that existed in early 1990s, but we have to accept that today we face new challenges," Secretary for Inter-Christians Relations of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko told an Interfax-Religion correspondent.

Thus he commented Yurkovich's words published today by the NG-Religii paper. According to the apostolic nuncio "those difficulties of the early 90-s today have been overcome in many ways and today there are many contacts, especially of personal and informal character, between the two Churches."

The Moscow Patriarchate representative says that the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church "not without grounds is concerned with the attempts of the Greek Catholic Church to set up and develop its structures in regions where Orthodox believers make a majority."

Besides, Father Dimitry further said, "we can't help mentioning one more injury that needs healing," - church schisms.

The interviewee of the agency said that in their speeches the UGCC official representatives said they were striving to reach unity among Orthodox believers in Ukraine, "but in practice they do things aimed at reaching the contrary result."

As an example, the priest pointed out to the UGCC head Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk's recent statement when he said that they accept the Baptism carried out in churches of the Kiev Patriarchate not recognized in Orthodox world.

At first glance, Father Dimitry said, this statement did not contain anything new as since St. Augustine's times the Roman Church has based on the teaching that the Sacrament of Baptism cannot be repeated and accepted any Baptism held observing certain conditions.

"However, in context of the current Ukrainian situation it sounds only as a witness to their interest in strengthening positions of shismatics," the Moscow Patriarchate representative said.

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