Head of UGCC is assured that ecclesial communion of Orthodox Churches in Ukraine and Chinese bishops represents two epochal events

Thursday, 18 October 2018, 23:41
Giving communion to Chinese bishops by Apostolic See and to two Orthodox Churches in Ukraine by Patriarchate of Constantinople represents two epochal events in the Universal Church, which are interrelated.

This opinion was formed by His Beatitude Sviatoslav during the interview for CRUX English edition. The Major Archbishop assumes that this gesture of giving communion to Chinese bishops by the Apostolic See and to two structures of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine by Constantinople “will become a turning point in a life of Church at the threshold of entering new historical epoch”.

Answering questions of John Allen, the editor of Crux of how UGCC interprets the processes now occurring in Ukraine around autocephaly, Head of UGCC stated that “recently we witnessed such historical moments that have not been seen for hundreds of years”.

“We haven’t yet completely understood what has happened. The Catholic community is a part of Ukrainian society, so the feelings that our faithful have are the sentiments of society. There’s a feeling that the Mother Church (Constantinople) has taken care for her children”, said Head of UGCC.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that he does not feel authorized to give a canonical or historic interpretation or to enter in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church. However, “being a shepherd to whom God entrusted the care of souls, I must say that in these two weeks I’ve just witnessed two epochal events in Christ’s Universal Church, which, in me opinion, can be explained together”.

According to head of UGCC, the first event is that the Holy Father Pope Francis has given communion to the seven Catholic bishops of China who, until now, weren’t in full and visible communion with the Bishop of Rome.

I still remember the tears of the Holy Father, who was moved during his homily in the opening Mass of the Synod talking about the two Chinese bishops who were present there. He understood that this is not about the bishops whom he’s brought to full communion. It’s about millions of simple faithful, simple Catholic Christians in China who in this way have returned to the womb of the mother Church.

From a canonical or political perspective, many criticize this decision. But what is the sense of it? To put the well-being of the person as the greatest value above following the rules. The person is more important than ideas”, said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

Another event which goes parallelly with above mentioned one, the Major Archbishop assumes, is to give ecclesial communion to the two structures of the Orthodox churches in Ukraine, directed by the Patriarch of Constantinople. “Everyone talks about the clash between patriarchs, of juridical acts that have been cancelled, about canonical territory. But no one say that this gesture has given communion with the Church of Christ to almost 20 million Ukrainians who, in this way, feel a caress from the Mother Church”, His Beatitude Sviatoslav pointed out.

Answering the question about what is a connection between these two events, he said: “I cannot know what Patriarch of Constantinople or Moscow are thinking about, but I see a similarity in the gestures: the well-being of the simple Orthodox Ukrainian has prevailed in the decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople. I can  already imagine the tears of the Patriarch Bartholomew of all these people who, on Sunday, will celebrate this decision.

John Allen also asked His beatitude Sviatoslav whether he is worried about some burst of violence among Ukrainian society, provoked as a consequence of Constantinople’s decision.

“I am serene because from all sides, there even is an explicit point from The Patriarchate of Constantinople to do everything so to avoid violence. Today everyone in Ukraine understands that religious peace is not only important for the churches, but for our entire nation. Who today would be interested in provoking tension? It’s the enemy of Ukraine, to outline the “catastrophicity” of the decision that’s been taken. Simple people don’t want to fight.

We Ukrainians are a peaceful people. Pespect of the other is a supreme value for us. So, I don’t believe that there will be clashes in Ukraine without inspiration, without intentionally delivered provocations.

Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome
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