Tuesday, September 17, 2019

In a story that will upset no one: EP meets with UGCC primate

(Romfea) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew held a meeting with the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, on Monday, September 16, 2019.

The meeting took place at Casa Santa Marta where Pope Francis lives.

According to the Uniate Archbishop’s Press Office, the two sides discussed the situation in Ukraine and the relations among the Churches.

The meeting began with an exchange of gifts. Archbishop Sviatoslav offered the Ecumenical Patriarch a copy of the oldest Slavic manuscript of the Gospel, which dates from 1144. Not something you give on a spur-of-the-moment meeting.

On his part, the Ecumenical Patriarch offered the Archbishop an edition on the history of the Patriarchate, and a medal issued in memory of Pope Benedict’s visit to the Phanar in 2006.

During the meeting, the Uniate Archbishop emphasized that from the historic moment when the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine was proclaimed, the main interlocutor regarding the ecumenical dialogue for the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine is no longer the Russian Orthodox Church, but the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

The Uniate Archbishop also proposed to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew that a Joint Committee of the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches should be established “to give new impetus to ecumenical dialogue”.

On his part, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the steps that had been taken so that the autocephaly status could be granted while praising the Greek Catholic Church for opening up a channel of ecumenical communication.

Finally, Archbishop Sviatoslav thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for their second meeting, welcomed the fact that the faithful of the Church of Kiev remembered that their Mother Church was the Church of Constantinople.
And also...
(RISU) - The Ecumenical Patriarch came to the Vatican on an official visit. The next day he met with Patriarch Sviatoslav to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Ecumenical relations between the UGCC and the OCU.

The meeting began with an exchange of gifts: the head of the UGCC presented the Patriarch with a facsimile edition of the Galician gospel of 1144 — the oldest of the precisely dated handwritten Gospels in Slavonic. Patriarch Bartholomew, in turn, presented his Beatitude Sviatoslav with publications on the cell of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a historical stamp issued in honor of the visit of his Holiness Benedict XVI to Constantinople in 2006.
During the conversation with His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Sviatoslav expressed hope and wish that "with the acquisition of autocephaly that the Ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will rise to a qualitatively new level. It was from this historic moment of the proclamation of autocephaly for the OCU, that the main interlocutor of the UGCC in the Ecumenical dialogue was no longer the Russian Orthodox Church but the local Orthodox Church in Ukraine."

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, summing up the meeting of the Eastern Catholic hierarchs of Europe, which took place on September 12-14 in Rome, noted: "The Eastern Catholic Churches make their theological contribution to the tradition of the Catholic Church itself, helping it to fully express its ecumenical dimension. The catholicity of the Church cannot be limited to its Latin tradition alone."

As for the Ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox Church, "The Eastern Catholic Churches offer new elements in understanding the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and synodality." At the same time, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted during his conversation with Patriarch Bartholomew, "The Eastern Catholic Churches offer the Roman Catholic Church new forms of St Peter's Ministry."

The head of the UGCC also proposed Patriarch Bartholomew to set up a mixed Commission between the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches to "give a new impetus to the Ecumenical dialogue."

The Patriarch of Constantinople explained to His Beatitude Sviatoslav his steps regarding the provision of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and praised the openness of the UGCC in Ecumenical communication. "This is our second meeting," he recalled and said that he was glad that the children of the Church of Kyiv remember that their mother Church is the Church of ancient Constantinople.

It should be added that the meeting was held on the initiative of the Primate of the UGCC as part of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew's official visit to the Vatican, organized by the Pontifical Council for the unity of Christians.


  1. Whatever. I'm in communion with the EP because my bishop is, and no other reason.

  2. What bothers me is that this dialogue is taking place between the Shevchuk/the UGCC and Patriarch Bartholomew seemingly speaking on behalf not of the Ecumenical Patriarchate but on because of the OCU.

    This immediately begs the question of how these two leaders can speak of such things without taking into the account that they (the UGCC and the OCU) are part of larger bodies (the Roman Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate).

    It's almost as if on one hand Shevchuk thinks it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission from the hierarchy of the RCC, and Patriarch Bartholomew thinks it's easier to organize some kind of rapprochement/unia if he does in within the context of Ukraine.

    In any case, something feels very dishonest about all of this.

    1. My uneducated guess is the Phanar is literally going extinct, so the Ecumenical Patriarch is growing an international flock and patronage network however and wherever he can. Happy to be proved wrong.

    2. This meeting would not have taken place without Pope Francis' blessing. Contrary to his smiling image as the affable Pope, the man brings down the hammer hard when he wants to.

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  4. Given the VERY deep enmity between the Greek Catholics and MP in Ukraine, REALISTICALLY this is the only way that rapprochement can be possible. Many members of the OCU are former Greek Catholics who want to be Orthodox, but who cannot bring themselves to be united with the MP in any way shape or form. This is a very bitter and tragic blood feud that has been going on too long....much like the Croats and Serbs. The MP lost Churches to the Unia, the Greek Catholics in turn lost Churches when the MP was dominant, and back and forth it goes. The Soviet suppression of the Greek Catholics was especially brutal, and they have not forgotten that the MP went along with it and took all their Churches, which they have spent much of the 90s trying to take back what they feel the MP stole from them. And so it goes around again. If we want the Greek Catholics to become Orthodox again, the OCU is the ONLY way it is going to happen. Surely the MP can see that. The only way to start the peace process is for the MP to let the OCU go in peace and not bar them from entry into the Church. The Estonia scenario REALISTICALLY is the only way to BEGIN the process of healing, with a firm commitment from the OCU with the EP pushing to stop the Church seizures. I think the new Ukrainian President will move to do just that. PEACE is possible, but Moscow has to let go of the OCU and allow a settlement to take place. The ordination and canonical questions are valid, but not insurmountable (if Lazar Puhalo is a bishop, and St. Alexis of Wilkes-barre didn't need reordination, than this situation can be "worked out")

    Perhaps this meeting is HAH trying to do just that. Work "stuff" out.

    1. Excuse me, St. Alexis Toth, as a Catholic could be vested in orders according to the canons as understood by the Russian Orthodox Church.
      I take exception to your mention of him in same wise as Denysenko or Dumenko.

    2. Van Olden is absolutely right, where there has always been economia when it comes to the ordination of those temporarily out of communion with the church, such as the reception of the Greek-Catholics of Belarus into the fold at the sobor of Polotsk, this economia does not extend to those who have been specifically excommunicated and anathemized by the church. While in the case of the Greek-Catholics, grace flowed through them even in their time of unwilling captivity to the Latins, this grace does not flow through those hierarchs who have been defrocked and anathemized by church synod. Plus, in every single case where those who have fallen outside of the fullness of the faith are accepted in their orders, repentance is consistantly the main prerequisite to suchlike happening. As was the case with St. Alexis, the uniats, and even Lazar Puhalo, repentance was the indespensible heart of their reception into the church, something wholly lacking from the Ukranian schismatics unfortunately.

    3. My point was that in the 20th Century (The Canonical Charlie Foxtrot, to use an Army term), the reception and "transferring" of clergy was very messy, and not always done "by the book." That is all I am saying. These issues are not insurmountable. The MP is applying Akrevia in a self-serving way...they were not opposed to applying economy when it came to Father Daniel in Indonesia or multiplying bishops in territories IN VIOLATION of the Canons and the agreements they made to NOT DO THAT.

      As for the OCU's Repentance, Repent of what? Schism? They already did that when they were received by the EP. The EP has done this before, when they received the Ukrainians abroad. How was it ok then, and not now?

      The MP position is totally inconsistent.

    4. If I am excommunicated from the Church, and then I declare myself a patriarch of a made up “church”, I gather around myself self ordained “clergy” and I refuse to rejoin the true Church because it would mean giving up my position as “Patriarch” and humbling myself, but instead I go to someone else and ask them to recognize my rebellion as legitimate, how is that repentance?

      Supposedly the whole point of this fiasco was the “heal the schism” but you can’t heal a schism by creating another schism, and that’s exactly what has happened. There is still a legitimate Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and it is not in communion with this schismatic group, and never will be, unless they repent and are received back into the Church.

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    6. Nobody has said how that would REALISTICALLY take place. They don't trust the MP, and the never will. Given the recent controversy over the petition those MP priests made in Russia about the Moscow summer protests (or "riots" depending on your POV), that distrust may not be unjustified. There is still a deep suspicion that the MP is too close with Putin's government.

      With this reality, how can anyone expect the OCU to have any dealings with the MP? If the MP was thinking pastorally, they would realize and appreciate this AND be open to either recognizing the OCU IN SOME FORM, or issuing their own Tomos to the UOC-MP.

    7. So essentially ethnic and political concerns take precedence over spiritual and canonical realities? This is the Church and the Church through God and her saints has made it very clear what is acceptable and what is not, and where grace is and where it is not. When someone is excommunicated and defrocked, and when others declare themselves bishops, they cannot be considered a part of the Church, they do not have the grace of the Holy Spirit, they cannot administer sacraments. That’s not Russian political talk, that’s canon law, and the witness of the saints.

      If said people have managed to snare others, even in large number, that still does not make them a legitimate church, it just means they are chosen schism over repentance. “Even the blood of martyrdom does not cover the sin of schism” St. John Chrysostom.

      “How that would REALISTICALLY take place” is pretty simple. Those who were excommunicated and defrocked may repent at any time, accept the judgement of the Church, which is for their salvation, humble themselves, and give up their delusions and desire for clerical power. They could be received back into the church as laymen or monastics and work out their salvation in retirement. The lay people would be even simpler. As for those who were “ordained” in schism, not knowing any better or otherwise, they could be dealt with on a trial by trial basis assuming they repented and wished to join the Church.

      Imagine, if you had the power to heal a schism, and all you had to do was give up a fake rank that you gave yourself? How selfish do you have to be to continue dragging people through your personal war, and sin, rather than repent and accept that you cannot be a bishop or a priest?

      There is a Ukrainian Church, led by Metropolitan Onuphry, they do not desire autocephaly, and what’s more if you look at it they have more canonical independence than the schismatics do with their so called “tomos” while under EPB’s land grab scheme.

      In any case I’m fairly tired of this subject. There is a schism, it is getting worse, there is a war for the future of the Church, whether we will have a “First Without Equal” or the traditional hierarchy, and it will take an Ecumenical Council to put all the details to rest.

      The problem is EPB has ignored every call for a council, because he knows he would lose in grand fashion as no one has supported him in this blatant power grab. So someone else has to call it, but EPB will undoubtedly immediately go into full blown schism if he realizes he cant hold onto his new claims of primacy while remaining in the Church...God help us.

  5. Personally, I don't believe Puhalo is a bishop. I knew him as a ROCOR deacon. He was synodically deposed. One OCA hierarch, retired Bishop Tikhon, was inclined to accept ROCOR'S decision as legitimate.

    1. The case of Archbishop Lazar is a complicated and divisive one. But it is a prime example of how "fluid" the issue of ordination and reception became in the 20th Century. I would address him as a bishop out of respect and deference to the OCA Synod. THEY received him, so who am I to question it?

  6. "The meeting began with an exchange of gifts. Archbishop Sviatoslav offered the Ecumenical Patriarch a copy of the oldest Slavic manuscript of the Gospel, which dates from 1144. Not something you give on a spur-of-the-moment meeting."
    Sorry not to be rude: but I don't think people are familiar with the Halych Gospel of 1144: http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CH%5CA%5CHalychGospel1144.htm
    But the more important fact is that the Ukrainian Catholic Church recently published a facsimile of it very cheaply in Ukraine and hands out copies of it all the time to people. This is a very common practice to use printed reproductions as gifts by hierarchs all the time. So there is nothing special at all about this gift: it is the usual type of gift given by Metr. Sviatoslav to so many people already: you can google all the pictures yourself.
    Secondly I myself don't think this meeting will be significant in the history of Catholic-Orthodox relations. There is an official group that has been meeting for that reason for over 20 years and Metr. Sviatoslav or his predecessors were never apart of that group.
    The EP does not look very happy in the picture. I have to ask if this meeting: a casual meeting in the home of the Pope (not an official meeting in the papal palace for example) for a very brief time because the EP just happened to be in Rome for another purpose- giving a speech at Institute of Oriental Studies I believe.
    Lastly, who can forget the rage over the event of 2008 when Eastern Catholics wrote on the internet that the EP had approved of their constant demand for a special "dual communion". This was written in connection with the LATE Ukrainian Catholic Lumomyr Hutsak: Here is the denial by the EP http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=952&tla=en " Concerning an inaccurate article for the relations with the Greek-Catholics (Uniates)
    With respect to the recently published articles reporting that allegedly His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew believes that it is possible for the Greek Catholics (Uniates) to have a “double union”, in other words, full communion with Rome as well as with Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate refutes this inaccurate statement and affirms it was never made. The Ecumenical Patriarchate repeats its position that full union in faith is a prerequisite for sacramental communion.
    At the Patriarchate, the 5th of July 2008
    From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy Synod" What could be clear that these words from 2008.

  7. It’s sadly become a common occurrence to discover that those who most loudly seem to be interested in defending the Church’s canonical order don’t even believe the Church’s teachings. This time, an arbitrary theory has been worked out that between the heretics and the schismatics in the Ukraine, it is only the later who must be graceless. As one ROCOR priest said upon seeing this view being promoted: “Do they they think we’re stupid?”

    May some people be reminded that the Latins were anathematized and their teachings condemned by multiple councils so your arguments do not hold up.