Catholic World News

Russian Orthodox should admit cooperation with Stalin, says Ukrainian Catholic leader

March 22, 2012

Ecumenical relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being stymied because the Moscow patriarchate will not admit its culpability for cooperating with Stalinist regime, says Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

The leader of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which suffered brutal persecution during the Stalin era, said that the Russian Orthodox should acknowledge their role in that historic era. (The Russian government forced Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine to join the Orthodox Church, confiscating church properties and killing or imprisoning Catholics who resisted assimilation.)

The Moscow patriarchate’s unwillingness to acknowledge moral responsibility for cooperating in the persecution is “a serious obstacle to the development of mutual relations,” the Catholic leader said. He added: “The ability to apologize shows a lively Christian conscience, which is a precondition for the so-called healing of memories.”

The Moscow patriarchate insists that tensions in the Ukraine are caused primarily by the activity of the Eastern-rite Catholic Church, which—according to Russian Orthodox leaders—is interfering in the “canonical territory” of the Moscow patriarchate.


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  • Posted by: Gregory108 - Mar. 26, 2012 12:13 AM ET USA

    One would then hope amends be made by being kinder and gentler to the Ukrainian Church now. Yet, the Moscow Patriarchate still fights the Ukrainian Church tooth and nail. The fact that tiny Churches have patriarchs and the giant Ukrainian Church does not is due to Orthodox pressure. They screamed when Cardinal Husar moved to Kiev, the capital. They still blame Ukrainians whenever any agreement with Rome "falls through." They still refuse to return "stolen" churches. Atheists would be less mean!

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Mar. 22, 2012 8:32 PM ET USA

    True enough but there were also many Russian Orthodox within the Moscow Patriarchate that never had anything to do with these atrocities. Who but those alive at the time can know just how difficult it was to try to live as a good Christian in the midst of communist terror. Better men than i were broken by those circumstances I'm sure. An apology would be nice but who in the Patriarchate today was actually part of what happened back then?