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New Orthodox leader voices support for 'unified Ukraine'

Catholic World News - August 18, 2014

The newly installed leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate has called for preservation of “our single unified Ukraine.”

Metropolitan Onufry, who was enthroned on August 17 as leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox community affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, joined other prelates of the same group in a public statement affirming the “state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” Their statement countered the arguments of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and of the Moscow patriarchate itself, which has taken a strongly pro-Russian line in the current conflict.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, in a message to Metropolitan Onufry congratulating the Ukrainian primate on his enthronement, underlined the difficulties facing Ukraine today: “Blood is being shed, homes and churches lie in ruins in the east and people perish each day in a land, where the Holy Rus was christened.” He urged the new Ukrainian leader to “heal these wounds.”

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Church also sent a congratulatory message to Metropolitan Onufry, encouraging him to “work for the preservation of peace and the consolidation of Ukrainian society.”

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