Sao Paulo, February 24, 2016
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has expressed regret at the negative reaction from representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to his and the Pope's joint declaration.
"I am very frustrated by the negative reaction in Ukraine because this declaration also gives a chance for dialogue with the Greek Catholics. If they operate within the paradigm outlined by this declaration, this is the foundation for normalization of relations," the patriarch told Russian reporters at the Brazilian city of San Paulo at the end of his Latin America tour on Saturday.
"And instead of rejecting it at once, straight away, talking about the aggressor Church, about having no fratricidal war, instead of using political cliches, they should think and say: stop, stop, stop, it is opening a chance for us. But apparently, this is not the way people there are reasoning now," he said.
Having pointed out that even the most radical nationalist forces in Ukraine call for a united Ukraine, the patriarch stated that persecutions and violence is not the way to bring people together. He drew parallels with marriage, stressing that it cannot be preserved through conflict and incitement of hatred.
"If you want to consolidate any group of people, you must find the right language, you must take each other's interests into account. Only by using this method can one build a united Ukraine. This is the position of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Roman Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church," the patriarch said.
In criticizing the joint declaration, Ukraine's Greek Catholics (the Uniates) "spoke out directly against the Pope or, at least, against the position the Pope has taken," he said.
In their joint declaration Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis expressed hope that their meeting will contribute to reconciliation between the Greek Catholics and the Orthodox Christians.
"Today it is obvious that the 'Uniatism' method of the previous centuries, which involves bringing one community in unity with another by separating it from its Church is not the way to restore unity," according to the declaration.