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Friday, 12 February 2016

As Pope and Russian patriarch meet, Ukraine fears a ‘shaky’ Vatican – Andriy Chirovsky in CRUX

In much of the world, Friday’s historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Havana, Cuba, will be hailed as a breakthrough. Attitudes are more mixed, however, in Ukraine, long the front line of tensions between Catholics and the Russian Orthodox.


Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian
Greek Catholic Church, met with Pope Francis in 2014. (AP)
There, the 5-million-strong Greek Catholic Church has suffered terribly for its loyalty to Rome, constituting the world’s largest underground religious body during the Soviet era, and it’s also a leader in civil resistance to the current Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

In this essay commissioned by Crux, the Rev. Andriy Chirovsky, a Greek Catholic archpriest at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, who also serves as editor-in-chief of LOGOS, a journal of Eastern Christian studies, discusses the summit. Among his key arguments:

  • Catholic/Orthodox unity is not some modern notion, since the leader of the Orthodox territory that included Russia came into union with Rome 600 years ago.
  • Since all Orthodox churches are staging a grand council in June for the first time in 1,000 years, Moscow has a clear political incentive for using a platform with the pope to boost its internal standing.
  • Many Russian Orthodox still have negative attitudes toward Catholics.
  • The Russian Orthodox have a tight relationship with the Kremlin, and Putin’s global ambitions may help explain why the meeting is happening.
  • While Pope Francis may know what he’s doing, Ukrainians have less confidence in the Vatican’s resolve.
The full text of Chirovsky’s essay follows:

As pope and Russian patriarch meet, Ukraine fears a ‘shaky’ Vatican – CRUX
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