Russian Orthodox Church: possible visit of Pope to Ukraine will not improve relations


  • Category:

MOSCOW - The Moscow Patriarchate has made it clear that the possible visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Ukraine to mark the 600th anniversary since the Episcopal capital was moved from Halych to Lviv will not improve relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican. RISU's Ukrainian-language web page posted this story on May 27, 2010.

"The celebration of the 600th anniversary since the Episcopal capital was moved from Halych to Lviv is not the best occasion for pope to visit the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church," Fr. Dimitry Sizonenko, acting secretary for inter-Christian relations of the Moscow Patriarchate's External Church Relations Department, told Interfax-Religion.

Benedict XVI was invited to visit Ukraine in 2012, when the festivities will take place, Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki said on Tuesday.

Fr. Dimitry said, however, that the Moscow Patriarchate has not received such information from the Vatican so far, Interfax reports.

"It would make sense to speak about the Moscow Patriarchate's position on Benedict XVI's visit to Ukraine only after this visit has been officially announced by the Vatican's press service," he said.

Relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church have "significantly improved, and cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two churches have been broadening in international organizations, including in the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and UNESCO," he said.

"But obvious progress in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue has not eased the poignancy of the unsettled situation in Ukraine's western regions. It is the most painful aspect in our relations. There is however every reason to hope that these problems will be resolved, the Vatican demonstrates a greater understanding today of the Moscow Patriarchate's position," Fr. Dimitry said.