Patriarch Lubomyr: UGCC Is Accused Without Any Evidence


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LONDON - In an interview with the BBC Ukraine service, Patriarch Lubomyr (Husar), the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, commented on the accusations against Greek Catholics expressed by Archbishop Illarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, during his recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. "These accusations are expressed continuously but I never heard them proved," said the patriarch. RISU's Ukrainian-language web site posted this story on September 29, 2009.

The hierarch said that representatives of the Vatican are often told that Greek Catholics are responsible for "the destruction of three Orthodox eparchies" (even though the Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil eparchies do exist today within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church) or for "forced seizure of Orthodox churches," or "obstructing the construction of new churches." "If we heard serious, proven accusations, it would be an important fact but we have been accused without any evidence," stressed Patriarch Lubomyr.

"I do not know a single example of seizure by us of any Orthodox church building, built by the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). In 1946, the ROC received over 500 churches in western Ukraine from the state. One cannot say they were churches of the ROC," explained the head of the UGCC. According to the hierarch, as the Church was emerging from the underground, unfortunate incidents occurred when communities were divided, which caused great misunderstandings. But it has been long in the past and today there is no such conflict.

"If we really have such a great influence on the local authorities, why then have we not received back all the buildings near the Cathedral of St. George in Lviv?" said the hierarch in response to the accusation that the UGCC obstructs the construction of a new cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Lviv through the local authorities. "When I was still in Lviv, I officially approached both the regional and city authorities twice with the request to recognize the right of the Orthodox Church to receive a plot for the construction of the new church. I clearly expressed this," explained the patriarch.

According to the press service of the UGCC, in the end, Patriarch Lubomyr said: "I am still awaiting objective proof that Greek Catholics seized any church buildings by force or obstructed the construction of new churches.";31949/