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Ukrainian disputes are main obstacle to Pope-Patriarch meeting, says Orthodox spokesman

Catholic World News - January 14, 2010

Disputes over parishes in Ukraine are the principal stumbling block preventing a meeting between Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, according to Archbishop Hilarion, who leads the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations.

“As late Patriarch Alexy II said on many occasions, we are not interested in the protocol meeting and shaking hands in front of the television cameras,” said Archbishop Hilarion. “We strongly disagree with those measures which saw the return of churches to Greek Catholics with no respect for the interests of Orthodox believers in Western Ukraine.”

Following World War II, the Stalin regime dissolved the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, imprisoning all its bishops, 1,400 priests, and 800 nuns, and formerly Catholic parishes were used by the Orthodox Church. Following the collapse of Communism, these churches were returned to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and there are now 2,939 Greek Catholic parishes in Ukraine.

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