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Ukrainian Orthodox, Byzantine Catholics building a church together

August 06, 2010

Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox bishops in Kolomyia have joined in a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a new church, which they are building as a joint project to celebrate the 1022nd anniversary of the “Baptism of the Rus,” the establishment of Christianity in Ukraine. The joint project is a remarkable breakthrough in a country that has seen persistent tensions between the Orthodox Church and the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Catholic Bishop Mykola Simkaylo and his Orthodox counterpart Ivan Boychuk said that the new church reflects their “joint purpose: to build a unique church in Ukraine. By holding joint events we unite our faithful in one Christian family.”

The Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is by far the largest of the Eastern-rite churches faithful to the Holy See, has long sought to establish a Catholic patriarchate in Ukraine. While some Orthodox clerics have hinted that they might welcome that development and even adhere to an Eastern Catholic patriarchate, the suggestion has drawn heated opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church, which claims Ukraine as its “canonical territory.”

Bishop Boychuk represents the Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate, which has broken away from the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. The Orthodox faithful in Ukraine are divided among three competing groups: the Kiev patriarchate, an Orthodox body remaining loyal to the Moscow patriarchate, and a 3rd autonomous body.


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  • Posted by: today2649 - Aug. 18, 2010 10:19 AM ET USA

    Regarding another post, there's a lot of confusion among both Catholics and Orthodox about the issues that still divide us. The website, in the section on Doctrine, covers common misconceptions such as the supposed "errors" in Orthodoxy surrounding Purgatory, the Immaculate Conception, and Original Sin. Byzantine Catholics see these things as Orthodox do. Truly, the only issue still dividing us is the question of Papal Authority, and this gets at "trust," not so much "teaching."

  • Posted by: today2649 - Aug. 18, 2010 9:27 AM ET USA

    There's an excellent book by Orest Subtelny, "Ukraine: A History," that sheds a lot of light on the present day relations between Ukraine and Russia, the cultural differences between these people and how they came about. It also gets into Russian historical claims on Ukraine and the differing versions of history surrounding this. Also very enlightening is the book's coverage of Christian origins in this region, later Catholic-Orthodox relations, the Union of Brest, etc. Highly recommended.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Aug. 07, 2010 3:28 PM ET USA

    The Orthodox are so close to renouncing the few errors they hold and reuniting with Rome. I can imagine that Christendom could be rebuilt if all the self professed Orthodox were actually in communion with the Roman Pontiff. They have a beautiful liturgy and a rich tradition and they have much more in common with us than the Protestants do. Let's all offer up a Rosary for a real reunion.