16 August 2005, 15:42
Alexy II calls the Roman Catholic Church to show wisdom in the problem of transferring the Uniate chair to Kiev
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.
The Patriarch said that his meeting with the Pope of Rome Benedict XVI would be possible if the policy of proselytism, the champion of which in Ukraine is the Greek Catholic Church, would be stopped.
The Patriarch noted that ‘the destinies of the Orthodox and Uniate Churches in Ukraine have become interwoven”. After the Greek Catholic parishes had been closed in 1946, the followers of the Unia got spiritual care in the Russian Orthodox churches.
‘In that we saw the testimony of the Russian Church’s lenient attitude to those who came to her for spiritual help, even if these people did not belong to her in proper sense”, Alexy II noted.
‘Some people remained Greek Catholics deep in heart, but they studied in our theological seminaries and academies, - the Patriarch continued. - I remember many students from Western Ukraine studying in the Leningrad theological schools in my time. After the political situation had changed and the Greek Catholics could open the churches of their own, we thought that our relations would develop along the same lines of good and peaceful coexistence’.
According to Patriarch Alexy, ‘The Russian Church has deserved at least a gratitude for her care for the Uniates during decades after the War’.
‘Instead, - Alexy II emphasized, - the Greek Catholic Church returned to the practice of the 16th-17th centuries, when the Unia was implanted by force with support of the anti-Orthodox authorities. Certainly, this course of events has complicated our relations both with the Greek Catholics and with the Roman Catholic Church’.
‘We have repeatedly stated our position in this matter, and it has not changed. We hope for a considered and reasonable approach to the problem on the part of the Roman Catholic Church’, - the Primate summarized.