Ukrainian Orthodox (UOC-MP) Disturbed by Division, but Don’t Accept Greek Catholic “Union” Proposition


18.07.2008, [16:17] // UGCC //

Kyiv- On 16 July 2008, the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), headed by Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), listened to the address of the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Patriarch Lubomyr (Husar), of 26 April 2008. The synod admitted that, like the UGCC, it is disturbed by church divisions in Ukraine, but cannot accept the model proposed to unite the Ukrainian churches that are direct or indirect heirs of Volodymyr's Baptism.

The address also touched the issue of further cooperation between both churches.

Regarding the UGCC model for church union, the UOC-MP stressed that its realization depends on the acknowledgment of a "Ukrainian national church" by other churches (Orthodox and Roman Catholic), and the possibility of this for the UGCC is doubtful.

The UOC-MP Synod confirmed that it shares the disturbance of the head of the UGCC over the division which exists in Ukraine between brothers of the same blood, who in the past confessed the same faith but can no longer agree with the vision of the UGCC.

"We believe that the questions raised in your letter should be divided into two groups: first, questions about renewing unity among the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and second, questions about renewing unity among Orthodox and Orthodox and Catholics of the Eastern rite in Ukraine. In conclusion your letter proposes a model for the Ukrainian Orthodox church and other Orthodox denominations, as well as all of the Orthodox and Catholic world, to renew unity which in substance is classically ‘union.' First of all, we would like to stress that such an approach does not meet the overall context of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, whose assignment consists in finding a common theological understanding of the dogmatic discrepancies between our churches, such as the question about primacy in Church and the ‘Filioque.' Only after the removal of dogmatic discrepancies is it possible to renew unity among our churches" reads the response to the address of Patriarch Lubomyr.

The document of the UOC-MP states that "questions of ‘union'" as a means to achieve unity among Catholics and Orthodox were considered by the Mixed Commission of the Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue in Freising (Germany, 1990) and in Balamand (Lebanon, 1993). Especially in the Balamand documents, the UOC-MP asserts that "the form of ‘missionary apostolate' called ‘Uniatism' can no longer be acceptable as a method or model of the unity that our churches are seeking."

The UOC-MP stresses that "union" propositions not only contradict the mentioned documents, but are obsolete, since they were discarded in the process of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.

The UOC-MP Synod stresses that the UGCC "does not have separate statutes and canonically is guided by the Code of Canon Law of the Eastern Churches, according to which it is a part ‘of the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops who are found in communions with him,'" therefore, in the conviction of the hierarchs of the UOC-MP, the UGCC does not have the right to independently offer similar kinds of propositions.

"As a structural unit of the Catholic Church, the UGCC evidently does not have the right to propose any canonical or liturgical unions which contradict the canonical norms of the Catholic Church. All of this prompts us to think that what are expressed in your letter are ideas lacking any ecclesiological, canonical, or liturgical grounds," states the address of the Synod of the UOC-MP to the Synod of the UGCC.

The UOC-MP approves the idea of creating a Council of Ukrainian Churches of Volodymyr's Baptism and perceives this as a good sign that the UGCC supports the initiative. "We believe that this structure can become a place for meetings and productive collaboration between our churches," reads the address of the UOC-MP hierarchs.

Together with this, the UOC-MP stressed that "the direct and immediate heir of Volodymyr's Baptism, as well as the successor of the ancient Kyivan Metropolitanate, is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [UOC-MP]. Regarding the UAOC [Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church], UOC-KP [Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate], and UGCC, the UOC-MP recognizes them as only indirectly, but not directly related to Volodymyr's Baptism."

Taking into account the state of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, the UOC-MP considers it "more expedient that the faithful of the UGCC who identify themselves with Eastern Christianity return to Orthodoxy, while those for whom the connection with the Roman church is dear join it, keeping their Eastern rite."

The UOC-MP proposed uniting efforts in solving society's problems.;23461/