Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Alexy II speaks out

Moscow, August 16, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia expressed his hope for Vatican’s wise and considered approach to the problem of transferring the chair of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics to Kiev.

‘These actions cannot be justified either from historical point of view, or by church rules and canons. Kievan chair from the very first years of its existence was an ecclesiastical capital of the Russian Orthodox Church, first as the centre of metropolia, and later as the major one among the Ukrainian dioceses’, - Alexy II said in his interview to the Moscow Patriarchate press service.

Read the complete article Alexy II calls the Roman Catholic Church to show wisdom in the problem of transferring the Uniate chair to Kiev from Interfax.

The Patriarch of Moscow laid down the preconditions for a meeting with the 'Pope of Rome':

...the policy of proselytism, the champion of which in Ukraine is the Greek Catholic Church, would be stopped.

The article then concludes with the story that during the years of the suppression of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, the Orthodox assisted the Uniates and that the way Rome was repaying their kindness was just a slap in the face (or something to that effect).

The move form Lviv to Kiev is supposed to happen before the end of August. I read the comment somewhere that referencing canon law is pointless since the Orthodox and Rome do /not/ share a common code of canon law. So Alexy II doesn't get points there. The point that the Catholics should be more grateful for the help of the Orthodox also rings hollow, given the fact that the Orothodox pretty much had the monopoly on religion (such as it was under godless communism) in the USSR. From Wikipedia:

At the state organized 1948 sinod in Lviv (Lvov), some [Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church] clergy were coersed into proclaiming the annulement of the 1596 Union of Brest thereby breaking the canonical ties with Rome and transferring under the Moscow Patriarchy. This move's acceptance was mixed. With many crergy members and lay beleivers turning to ROC, some adamantly refused. While the UAOC [one of the splinter Orthodox groups in Ukraine] and UGCC church property in Ukraine was liquidated by the Soviet authorities or transferred to the [Russian Orthodox Church], many beleivers refused to accept liquidation of their churches and for nearly 40 years the UAOC and UGCC existed in Western Ukraine underground lead by the clergy members under the threat of prosecution by the Soviet state.

As Wikipedia points out in the article on the Greek Catholic Church, it is not the implanted creature of Rome that the Russian Orthodox Church makes it out to be:

Within Ukraine itself, the UGCC is a minority faith of the religious population, being a distant second to the majority Eastern Orthodox faith. However, since the Ukrainian Orthodox were split into at least three denominations around the onset of independence in the 1990s, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church denomination thereby accidentally became the second largest religious organization in Ukraine in terms of number of communities.

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