[Ukraine and its Greek Catholic Church sacrificed on altar of ecumenism in statement by FrankenPope and Putin’s pocket Patriarch]
[Downplays Russian aggression in Ukraine and downgrades UGCC from a church “sui iuris (of its own right)” to an “ecclesial community” (V2 term for Prot groups)]
Catholic World News
March 02, 2016: Ukrainian Catholic leader: we are more than an ‘ecclesial community’
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has renewed his criticism of portions of the recent joint statement of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
Referring to the Eastern Catholic churches—of which the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest—the document stated that “it is today clear that the past method of ‘uniatism,’ understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. The ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbors.”
Commenting on this portion of the declaration, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the Catholic News Agency that “the ecumenical vocabulary of the Catholic Church uses the phrase ‘ecclesial communities’ to refer to Protestant churches, that is to label those communities which do not bear all the richness of the apostolic tradition.”
“Professors of ecclesiology, but also common people, raised concerns and doubts about the use of this expression referred to the Greek Catholic community,” he continued.
While welcoming the Moscow patriarchate’s acknowledgement of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s right to exist, he said that “in the end, we are not called to ask anyone permission for our right to exist.”
Major Archbishop Shevchuk explained that “the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church can testify that communion with the Successor of Peter does not take anything out of the richness of the Eastern tradition. It is the contrary! It helps this tradition to grow. It brings this tradition out of provincialism, out of strict nationalism.”
Describing the meeting between Pope Francis and the patriarch as “just the beginning of the path,” Major Archbishop Shevchuk said that “we must not fix our attention on one only point. We must think what to do after. The first thing is to free religion from politics. We cannot reconcile with geopolitics, but we can reconcile with our brothers.”
February 24, 2016: Ukrainian Catholic leader renews criticism of statement by Pope, Russian patriarch
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has renewed his criticism of portions of the recent joint statement of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow but said he was moved by Pope Francis’s reference to their friendship during a recent press conference.
Following the February 12 joint statement, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that many members of his flock “feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truth nature of this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See for Russian aggression against Ukraine. I can certainly understand those feelings.”
At the same time, as he renewed his criticism of portions of the joint statement, he said that the document “is not the word of God, it is not a page of the Holy Gospel,” but “only a tool to start true, sincere dialogue.”
February 15, 2016: Ukrainian Catholic leader: many feel ‘betrayed’ by joint statement of Pope, Russian patriarch
In a lengthy interview, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) said that the joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill showed two parties operating on “completely different planes … pursuing different goals.”
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with the Holy See, said:
“Speaking of the signed text of the Joint Declaration, in general it is positive,” he continued. “However, the points which concern Ukraine in general and specifically the UGCC raised more questions than answers.”
Turning to these points, the Major Archbishop offered strong criticism of Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:
It is hard to imagine a weaker team than the one that drafted this text. The mentioned Pontifical Council is competent in theological matters in relations with various Christian Churches and communities, but is no expert in matters of international politics, especially in delicate matters such as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Thus, the intended character of the document was beyond their capabilities … I would note that, as the Head of our Church, I am an official member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, nominated already by Pope Benedict. However, no one invited me to express my thoughts and so, essentially, as had already happened previously, they spoke about us without us, without giving us a voice.
In paragraph 25, said the Major Archbishop, the Russian Orthodox “no longer seem to object to our right to exist.” However, paragraph 26, which discussed the war in Ukraine, “is the most controversial”:
The very word “conflict” is obscure here and seems to suggest to the reader that we have a “civil conflict” rather than external aggression by a neighboring state. Today, it is widely recognized that if soldiers were not sent from Russia onto Ukrainian soil and did not supply heavy weapons, if the Russian Orthodox Church, instead of blessing the idea of “Russkiy mir” (“the Russian world”) supported Ukraine gaining control over its own borders, there would be neither any annexation of Crimea nor would there be any war at all.
The Major Archbishop concluded:
Undoubtedly, this text has caused deep disappointment among many faithful of our Church and among conscientious citizens of Ukraine. Today, many contacted me about this and said that they feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truth nature of this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See for Russian aggression against Ukraine. I can certainly understand those feelings.
Nonetheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this Declaration and not to exaggerate its importance for Church life. We have experienced more than one such statement, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a Joint Declaration text. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is a matter of our faith … It is for this unity with the Apostolic See that our Church’s twentieth-century Martyrs and Confessors of Faith gave up their lives, sealing it with their blood.