Head of UGCC: St. Sophia of Kiev is our cathedral church
Sviatoslav Shevchuk is sure the UGCC is the “Church of St. Vladimir Baptism”, therefore he believes the ancient St. Sophia Cathedral of Kiev to be his cathedral church.
“St. Sophia’s is our mother cathedral church,” Shevchuk said. “It was a kind of discovery for Ukrainian society that the UGCC also has a relation to this shrine. Since St. Sophia Cathedral is the mother church for all branches of Ukrainian Christianity, all the children of the Kiev Church of St. Vladimir Baptism, the exclusive appropriation of this church by only one part of the once united and now divided Kiev Church is inappropriate and even dangerous.”
He emphasized that the UGCC did not revoke its appeal to the Ministry of Culture with a request to allow it holding divine services at St. Sophia’s. Shevchuk does not mind other denominations serving in this shrine, but the UGCC does not intend to abandon its claims to this cathedral.
“I would like to recall the status quo that exists in the temple of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. This place is holy for all Christians,” Shevchuk said. “And today there is an algorithm to ensure that everyone has access to it. No one can exclusively occupy it – neither the Catholic, nor the Orthodox, nor the Armenian, nor the Coptic. The temple is open to all. I think this example of Jerusalem is very important for Kiev, which is called the Second Jerusalem."
According to the head of the UGCC, when it comes to opening the church for worship, the conditions and rules should be voiced by art critics who are responsible for its preservation.
“Today we were told that services should not be held there, because the cathedral is closed for restoration. It is our common interest that the thousand-year-old temple with its wonderful mosaics and frescoes be preserved,” he concluded.
Recall, on February 17, 2019, Sviatoslav Shevchuk publicly announced at the Annunciation holiday the pilgrimage of his church to St. Sophia Cathedral and the celebration of the liturgy there. In response to this, the “honorary patriarch” of the OCU Filaret urged the Uniates to abandon the idea of serving there because “it will be beneficial to the Kremlin”. On February 23, a message appeared on the Ministry of Culture website refuting information about the upcoming service of the UGCC but by the evening it mysteriously disappeared.
On January 31, the Uniates sent a letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman asking them to allow holding a service at St. Sophia Cathedral three times a year on a permanent basis, but on March 8 it became known that restoration work would begin on March 18, so nobody would be able to have worship in the cathedral for the time being.
In July 2019, the “clergy” of the OCU declared their desire on the Day of the Baptism of Rus to “worship” at St. Sophia's of Kiev but they were not allowed to do this. On July 28, 2019, the OCU limited its “cross procession” to walking from this temple toward the monument to the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir.