UGCC head: Kiev Church remains in full communion with Rome

26 February 2019 22:18
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Pope Francis and head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk Pope Francis and head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk

While the issue of UGCC serving in Sophia Cathedral is still pending, its website recalls Sviatoslav Shevchuk's “Message” on ecumenism and the temple of St. Sophia.

In the “Message of His Beatitude Sviatoslav on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of conciliarity of the Ukrainian nation and its state”, excerpts from which were again published on the UGCC website, Shevchuk once again declared his intention “to restore the original unity of the now-divided Kiev Church”.

“Today, just like thousands of years ago, our Kiev Church remains in full communion with the vicar of the Apostle Peter, called by the Savior himself to serve the unity of His Universal Church and the integrity of the redeemed people of God. Together with the Bishop of Rome, our Church is in communion with other Eastern Churches. This opens up a special ecumenical vocation of our Church – a witness of unshared Christianity,” Shevchuk wrote in his “Message”.

According to him, only after such reunification of the Eastern Churches will it be possible to see “the truly renewed St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev”, and while “unity” has not been achieved, not a single religious organizations can single-handedly occupy this ancient Kiev church. At the same time, the author of the “Message” stressed that Cardinal Joseph the Blind “viewed upon the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev as a mother temple” of the UGCC.

Shevchuk himself perceives the Sophia temple in the city of Kiev as a symbol of ecumenical unity.

“The Holy Kiev Sophia, a cathedral, which to this day is an eloquent symbol of the primary integrity and fullness of the one and indivisible Kiev Church, has become an amazing incarnation, the unshakable shrine of the Wisdom of God,” he said.

On February 17, 2019, Sviatoslav Shevchuk announced that Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevgeny Nishchuk had allowed the Greek Catholics to perform a liturgy in St. Sophia Cathedral of Kiev on the Day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, on April 7, 2019. In light of the anticipated event, the head of the UGCC even announced a general pilgrimage to the cathedral. However, after that, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine reported that, as of Saturday, February 23, 2019, the department did not grant permission to conduct the service of the UGCC in the church of St. Sophia of Kiev. There is still no final decision regarding the format of conducting divine services in the St. Sophia Cathedral on April 7, 2019. They are planning to discuss this issue at a meeting of the heads of the UGCC and the OCU, which will take place after the return of the head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk to Ukraine.

As regards the issue of the "unity of Eastern Churches", an attitude among the Greek Catholics is very unequivocal. The chairman of the UGCC Commission for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Father Igor Shaban, made it very clear that such a union is possible only if the supremacy of Rome is recognized. At the same time, he recalled the words of Pope John Paul II, who called Ukraine "the laboratory of ecumenism."

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