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Friday, 30 May 2014

Patriarch Kirill accuses Ukrainian Greek-Catholics of Russophobia - Pravmir/Interfax - A Russian Orthodox Church Website

Moscow, May 28, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has sharply criticized the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics Church.

Once again, there is an enduring need to set the context for such remarks as these emanating from the Moscow Patriarchate, point by point. The report on Patriarch Kirill's unprovoked and groundless outburst is at the end. (MW)

1. His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow accuses the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of engaging in political activities. Yet from the outset of the recent crisis, it has been a vocal and active advocate of peace. Alongside the three main Orthodox Churches in Ukraine (including clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is part of the Russian Orthodox Church), the small Roman Catholic community, Protestants leaders and the leaders of the Islamic and Jewish communities it has been a vocal servant of peace and justice and has refused to take political sides. Instead it has demanded peace, justice, and end to corruption, the internationally recognised integrity of the country, and the establishment of democracy and due process. Its presence alongside other Church representatives in Kyiv and other cities where there were demonstrations was to keep the peace at the same time as being with the people - all the people - at difficult period of civil society's history. Orthodox clergy did the same. There are ample pictures of both Orthodox and Greek-Catholic clergy and religious keeping the peace, calling people to prayer, tending those wounded by the regime that the Russian Federation was supporting, and demonstrating their fraternity and solidarity. Meanwhile, Patriarch Kirill has been a closely linked supporter of President Putin's government and he has encouraged its adventures in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine with his promotion of the concept of Russky Mir - Pax Russica - the Russian world under Russian peace - that includes Russia proper, its satellite buffer territories, together with Belorussia and Ukraine.

2. "The UGCC is ... using sharp Russophobic slogans and statements and making sharp statements against the Russian Orthodox Church in its public declarations".  This cannot be evidenced. The Moscow patriarch and patriarchate (through its External Relations chief, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk) feels at complete liberty to say the most disobliging things against the Ukrainian Catholics, the Roman Papacy and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yet objects to the prospect that they in turn can stand subject to critique and analysis in their words and actions. Far from criticising Russians or Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church, under Patriarch Sviatoslav the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has been at pains to distinguish between the Russian people both in Russia itself and in Ukraine, and the actions and policies of the Russian government. We have kept a record of everything that Patriarch Sviatoslav has said and all can be discovered by selecting the label "sviatoslav shevchuk" on the right to bring up the list of them. Where the Russian Church has come under criticism it has been for its persistence in its historically false assessment of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, its baseless accusations of proselytism among Orthodox and violent dispossession of Orthodox property and eparchies in Western Ukraine. There were never Orthodox eparchies in the West until imposed by Stalin with the collusion of the Moscow patriarchate, leading to martyrdom, forced conversions, the misappropriation of all Greek Catholic property by the Russian Church, and the legal suppression of the Church from the Second World War to the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Effectively the Greek-Catholic Church in what is now Ukraine, with its roots just like the Russian Orthodox in the Kyivan Church founded at the time when East and West were in union,  was persecuted by a forced alliance between atheist Communism and the Moscow Patriarchate. This is an historical truth that has never properly been faced and come to terms with.Ssince both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Catholic Church recovered their freedom after Sovietism, in this context, characterised by sustained pressure from Moscow upon Rome for the Vatican to repress the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the leaders of the latter have not occupied themselves with recrimination. Instead they have focussed on the spiritual renewal of the Church and the faithful, and the restoration of its life, identity, capacity and worship. Like Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky before them, the two UGCC hierarchs mentioned in the Pravmir report below have repeatedly and consistently called for dialogue and fraternity to resolve problems and disagreements. In the present time, Patriarch Sviatoslav has extended once more the offer of encounter and reconciliation. While Ukrainian Orthodox leaders under the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine itself have maintained positive relationships with fellow hierarchs in the UGCC, it is Moscow itself that has rebuffed and ignored these fraternal and peaceable gestures, preferring itself to pretend that the UGCC is a mere department of the Roman Catholic Church and addressing all its thoughts and remarks upon it to the Vatican.

3. "The UGCC ... has ... cast a very sad shadow on the relations between the Russian Church and the Vatican". Yet it was the Russian Church led by Patriarch Kirill that, having taken part in the Joint International Theological Commission for Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church that formulated the Ravenna Statement, withdrew from the dialogue, preferring outside of the dialogue that is not concluded and is still in progress, to issue its own dogmatic statement on primacy in the universal Church that was charged with painful criticism of the Catholic Church and the papacy that just do not obtain. The Russian Church declares it desires unity with the Catholic Church, but only, it seems, on the Russian Orthodox Church's terms without considering of those of the Catholic Church (which include communion between Latin and Greek Catholics, NB). This is not the path of dialogue and ecumenism, as many Orthodox theologians and hierarchs outside the Russian Church have pointed out. Furthermore, it is the Moscow Patriarchate that, in the words of Metropolitan Hilarion, (press the label to the right marked "hilarion alfeyev") has accused the Roman papacy of maintaining a policy of Uniatism through Greek-Catholic structures to proselytise among Orthodox, despite all evidence to the contrary and agreements (see notably the Balamand Statement) with the Orthodox Church that Uniatism (and there are not a few historical examples of Orthodox Uniatism among Western Christians) belongs to the past and that we are now in the age and stage of ecumenism, ecclesial reconciliation and the dialogue of love. How many times must this be said? The Catholic Church is not seeking jurisdiction over the Orthodox Church. Pope Benedict said specifically that nothing is expected of the Orthodox Church that was in place prior to the Great Schism and nothing more that has developed in the West could therefore be demanded of the East. Lastly, it was Moscow that cast a shadow over its relations with the Vatican - at the same time as a long arranged visit of the Sistine Chapel Choir, with that of the Anglican Westminster Abbey, was visiting the Moscow Patriarchate, and as Pope Francis was meeting Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem in the Holy City 60 years on from Pope Paul VI's and Patriarch Athenagoras' meeting that inaugurated that "dialogue of love", all Metropolitan Hilarion (who was receiving the choirs) could say, instead of encouraging the encounter and fraternal solidarity of the successors of SS. Peter, Andrew and James, was that the Patriarch of Constantinople represents only his own Church and not the Orthodox Church as a whole. The Moscow Patriarchate, which maintains institutions in the Holy Land and thus serves its faithful there, unlike other out-of-country Churches with diaspora there did not send a representative to join other Orthodox leaders - not to meet the Pope but just to join with him and others on a pilgrimage together. To have done so, it would have been clear that the Patriarchate of Moscow is not, as it likes to give the impression, the direct peer of Rome as the leadership of by far the largest body of Orthodox in the world: its representative would have been placed in the order of commemoration in the diptychs - not beside Bartholomew, but after Jerusalem.

4. Cardinal Lubomir Husar is happily very much still alive.

5. "They took a very clear stance at the very beginning of this civil conflict, which unfortunately led to a military conflict". We have addressed this outrageous and offensive observation from Metropolitan Hilarion before. At the time he was saying this in March, the Moscow Patriarchate, far from standing above politics, falsely insinuated a connection between the UGCC and fascists. At every stage, Cardinal Husar and Patriarch Sviatoslav appealed to everyone to follow the path of Jesus Christ - peace, truth and justice. It was not the Greek-Catholic Church that fired upon and killed defenceless citizens exercising their democratic rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. It was not the UGCC that sent into Ukraine undercover police, masked soldiers and military assistance to the corrupt regime or to facilitate the annexe Crimea to Russia. Instead, alongside the other Church leaders, the UGCC offered pastoral and spiritual support to its people and those of other Churches without discrimination, and quite uncontroversially and in accord with international treaties called for the territorial integrity of the country, the restraint of foreign armed interference from all quarters, the respect for the rule of law and the observance of truly democratic processes. These aspirations reflect standard Catholic Social Teaching but those of the Russian Orthodox Church itself, as well as the position of the World Council of Church in numerous situations. To say that the Ukrainian Catholic Church was responsible for inflaming civil disorder and an ensuing military conflict is a terrible calumny, when what it has done consistently is to call for peace, truth, justice, law and democracy. Again, the evidence for this is ample.

6. His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill knows full well that the term "Uniate" is designed when used in contemporary discourse to be offensive. It is pejorative, inaccurate and polemical. Before accusing others of "sharp slogans" and "sharp statements" that "cast a very sad shadow", he should remove the beam from his own eye.

7. "False patriarch Filaret". In Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, effectively controlled by Moscow although meant to be autonomous, is a minority compared with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Filaret. The latter uses Church Slavonic as well as the vernacular, while the Russian Church uses only Church Slavonic in the Liturgy. In other words, in Ukraine a majority of Orthodox wish to have the opportunity to worship in their own language. And as citizens of a different state from Russia, they wish their own Church to rule itself, not to be managed from abroad. Nevertheless a sizeable number of Orthodox in Ukraine, who are ethnic Russians or Russian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians, wish to belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. In such circumstances, there needs to be dialogue and reconciliation for the two constituencies to live in the Body of Christ in harmony and communion. It is difficult, whatever the background issues and antipathies that we need not go into here, to know how this can be achieved if the stock response is "sharp slogans" from Patriarch Kirill.

8. "Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk and false patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) even went to the U.S., went to the offices of the Department of State, and asked the U.S. to intervene in the Ukrainian affairs". The instances of these visits are extensively recorded in the media and on the internet. These were visits to raise international awareness of the corruption, violence and tyranny of the former regime. At every turn they were requests for the international community to intervene in the denunciation of injustice, abuse of power and corruption, and the prevention of civil strife, war and the undercover military destabilisation of Ukraine by the government and armed forces of the Russian Federation outside international law and without mandate from the UN Security Council.

9. "Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics Church, has recently made very sharp statements about Russia". While Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion have been making abundant "sharp statements" about the UGCC, we can find no instance of criticisms of the Russian Church from Patriarch Sviatoslav or of the denunciations of Russia that have been implied. We leave to him the last word, from an interview this May:

We have significant, fraternal relations with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. All of our activities and our statements which we issued in the last few months, in the period of the Maidan, we always did together. Moreover, it is providential that the current seat of that Ukrainian Council of Churches is held by the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan).
We were united in Ukraine during a very dangerous period in a way that had never really occurred before. Concerning pastoral care for our respective faithful on the Maidan, we were organized in our own way. However, concerning our moral judgments of the civil movement or opposition to the abuses of the Yanukovych government, we always stood together. So I think that there is no reason to fear some “crusade” against the Orthodox. The Maidan was neither a religious nor ethnic protest. It was a “social” protest and almost half of the protesters were Russian-speaking citizens who were faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Of course the Greek Catholics were present along with the Orthodox of the “Kyiv Patriarchate” as well as Jews and Muslims. The Maidan was a sort of “mirror” of the Ukrainian society without any aggression toward the 'Russian' nation or 'Russia' as a state.
Unfortunately, I have to say that there are no direct and open relations between the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate and it is a pity. For the last three years, my heartfelt desire has been to establish such a direct dialogue. However, we are not able yet. But I am still open and I am praying that one day we can sit at the same table, look at one another in the eye, and recognize that we are members of the same body of Christ and that we share the same blood of Christ. We are members of the same Church of Christ. That will be the common basis to start to discuss our disagreements and problems.

“The Ukrainian Greek-Catholics Church is engaging in direct political activities, unfortunately, using sharp Russophobic slogans and statements and making sharp statements against the Russian Orthodox Church in its public declarations,” the patriarch said at a meeting in the Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
Patriarch Kirill said “a very sad shadow” has been cast on the relations between the Russian Church and the Vatican.
The Greek-Catholics (Uniates) were earlier criticized by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations.

“Being represented by the Supreme Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk and former Archbishop Lyubomir Guzar, who is now at rest, they took a very clear stance at the very beginning of this civil conflict, which unfortunately led to a military conflict,” Metropolitan Hilarion said on Rossiya 24 channel in March 2014.

Metropolitan Hilarion said the Uniates did not just call for European integration, “but even called on the Western countries to get more actively involved in the situation in Ukraine.”

“Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk and false patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) even went to the U.S., went to the offices of the Department of State, and asked the U.S. to intervene in the Ukrainian affairs,” Metropolitan Hilarion said.

Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics Church, has recently made very sharp statements about Russia.

Read online at source:
Patriarch Kirill accuses Ukrainian Greek-Catholics of Russophobia - Pravmir: A Russian Orthodox Church Website

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