The statement by Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate), says “the Moscow patriarch has his believers in Ukraine who recognize him as their leader. We respect his right to pray together with his flock.”
However, Filaret continues, “alongside church matters, the Russian patriarch will try to resolve political matters. Kiril has become the patriarch of ROC only 6 months ago. Prior to that, he was in charge of ROC foreign relations over the past 20 years and masterminded ROC’s policy toward Ukraine. He, therefore, has his share of responsibility for the split in the UOC in 1992, the split which has not been healed until now. He should be held accountable for using the clergy of the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine as a tool of the Russian state policy,” Filaret warned.
“The statements and declarations made by Patriarch Kiril on Ukraine are proof that he is coming here not only for preaching and praying. He is coming here to complete the business he has been dealing in for the past 20 years. He is coming to hype a political project of integrating Ukraine into Russia, of creating a Kremlin-dominated “unity”. Such “unity” was discarded by Ukraine in 1991.”
“We are not fanning hatred to the Russians or Russia, as our opponents claim. We are just critically assessing the actions of the present Russian political and religious leaders that want to take away Ukraine’s independence. We believe the Ukrainian and Russian peoples to be brotherly peoples that should live, like good neighbors, in peace. We have many common pages of our history, our languages and cultures are very close. There shouldn’t be any hatred or confrontation between us,” the Filaret’s statement continues.
“To overcome the split and create a united UOC we affirm our readiness to hold a meeting of Ukraine church leaders or authorized delegations during the visit of Patriarch Kiril,” Filaret proposed.
Cardinal Luybomyr Huzar, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, commenting on Patriarch Kiril’s visit, said: “We rejoice for our brothers, believers of the UOC (MP) because their leader will come to them.”
In Cardinal Luybomyr’s opinion, there is a threat that the UOC (MP) may become a tool using which Russia will try to block Ukraine’s way to complete independence. “It is no secret that Russia wants to keep Ukraine in its orbit, that it disagrees with our aspirations as a nation and country,” L. Huzar continued.
If the church is used to make Ukraine part of the Russian empire, it will be a dangerous game, the cardinal added. “In my view, the church should stay away from such games. The church in Ukraine must be Ukrainian, although it may cooperate with the Moscow patriarchate,” L. Huzar said.