26 May 2010, 11:56
Catholic festivities not best occasion for Pope's visit to Ukraine - Moscow Patriarchate
Moscow, May 26, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has made it understood that the possible visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ukraine to mark 600th anniversary since the capital city of the Catholic metropolitans was transferred from Galich to Lvov, will not benefit relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican.
"The celebration of the 600th anniversary since the residence of Galich Catholic metropolitans was moved to Lvov is not the best occasion for the Pontiff's visit to the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church," Priest Dimitry Sizonenko, acting secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Moscow Patriarchate's External Church Relations Department, told Interfax-Religion.
Benedict XVI was invited to visit Ukraine in 2012, when the festivities will take place, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki said on Tuesday.
Father Dimitry said, however, that the Moscow Patriarchate has not received such information from the Vatican so far.
"It would make sense to speak about the Moscow Patriarchate's position on Benedict XVI's visit to Ukraine only after this visit has been officially announced by the Vatican's press service," he said.
Relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church have "significantly improved, and cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two churches have been broadening in international organizations, including in the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and UNESCO," he said.
"But obvious progress in Orthodox-Catholic dialog has not eased the poignancy of the unsettled situation in Ukraine's western regions. It is the most painful aspect in our relations. There is however every reason to hope that these problems will be resolved, the Vatican demonstrates a greater understanding today of the Moscow Patriarchate's position," Father Dimitry said.