His Beatitude Sviatoslav: "The Ukrainian power hasn't fully estimated the importance of relations with Vatican for national interests yet"

Tuesday, 07 February 2017, 17:28
Unfortunately I don't see today a clear strategy for development of relations between Ukraine and Vatican. The state policy is beyond the competence and influence of the Church, although it doesn't mean that we cannot have our own civil position in this matter. And we speak out on it. Someone might even think that we do it too often and too courageously. If we don't have our own policy, then we will be imposed a foreign one!

This was declared by the Head and Father of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav in the interview for the Religious-Informational Service of Ukraine, analyzing the Havana declaration in it.  Let us remind you that the meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril and their signing a joint declaration stirred up the Ukrainian society.

The Primate of the Church observed that the Ukrainian power has not realized the importance of relations with Vatican for the national interests fully enough: "We are becoming witnesses of how actively our northern neighbor  imposes itself on the Holy See and tries to use it as a tool for its own advantage." In his opinion, "Those who are trying to  oppose Ukraine to the Holy See or make an impression in the society that Vatican 'makes friends with Moscow' against Ukraine, is the force working against our national interests." 

In his interview the Head of the Church explains that unity of the UGCC with the Holy Father is not based only on political or diplomatic reasons. But it is an object of our faith and an integral part of identity of our Church. "I remember how in the Soviet times, when communistic propaganda was convincing our people that Vatican and the Pope are enemies of the Ukrainian nation, one elderly woman said very simply: "Let them speak whatever they like, but we have always been and will always be with the Pope." I understand only now that it was an authentic people's manifestation of Christian faith," he went on. "We all need to remember this testimony especially today."

He also recalled the role of the Roman Hierarchs regarding the contemporary Ukrainian history:  "Pope Pius ХІІ sharply decried Soviet atheistic propaganda and destroying the UGCC, saving tens of thousands of Ukrainian emigrants from 'repatriation' to the Siberia. Then in a short period of time Rome created eparchies and exarchates for Ukrainians on various continents, which became crucial for  saving Ukrainians in the world. After World War II Vatican and Roman Catholics supported not only church structures and charity work but also became the advanced patrons of the Ukrainian culture in Europe…" Thus, Pope Saint John ХХІІІ took efforts to release Patriarch Josyph Slipy and Pope Saint John Paul II, as the most venerable world leader, was systematically speaking Ukrainian for 27 years. Pope Benedict XVI continued this tradition, clearly speaking regarding totalitarianism and historic truth about the events in Ukraine. This line is also kept by Pope Francis.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav is convinced that at this difficult for Ukraine time we need to take every effort  to develop the relations between our state and the Holy See "Strategically our biggest desire is to move towards concluding a concordat – comprehensive inter-state agreement  – between Ukraine and Vatican"

Analyzing points of Havana declaration, signed by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kiril, the Head of the UGCC noted: "The Pope confirmed that its text isn't unmistakable, it's not 'a page from the Gospel'.  It cannot be diminished but we shouldn't  overestimate it either. We can and should criticize it.  What matters here is not abstract agreements or schemes but the fate of Church and my personal responsibility before the faithful and society."

"When a year ago I was speaking about the pain, I was not speaking on my own behalf but became the voice of the Ukrainian society, whose wounds were touched upon by the declaration or its interpretation," he added. The Head of the Church also said that after the declaration was signed, he spoke to Cardinal Kurt Koch, the head of the Pontifical Council on Promoting Christian Unity: "I hope that our ecumenical position will be taken into account by their experts in the future, and studying the ecumenical context of Ukraine will be seriously considered."

The UGCC Department of Information


Our Saint Sophia. Letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Renewal of Unity of the Ukrainian Nation and State17 January

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