March 11, 2016
The Moscow Patriarchate has stated that profound differences persist in relations with the Holy See.
"Despite the understanding reached on many vital problems of modernity, profound differences remain between Orthodox and Catholic Christians, in particular in their views on our common history full of tragic events," the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations head Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said in an interview with Interfax-Religion.
The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Uniates) has remained a stumbling block in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, he said. "This block again and again ruins attempts to establish dialogue, to bolster mutual understanding and to bring our positions together. Events of the recent past - the destruction of three Orthodox dioceses by Uniates in western Ukraine in the early 1990s and the seizure of several hundred churches - and of the distant past prove this," he said.
Actions of Ukrainian Uniates have remained the main problem between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Holy See. The issue concerns the destruction of three Orthodox dioceses by Uniates in western Ukraine in the late 1980s - early 1990s, the relocation of the center of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from Lvov to Kiev, its desire to attain patriarchate status, the proliferation of Uniates' mission to traditionally Orthodox lands of eastern and southern Ukraine, and Uniates' support of schismatics. This is accompanied by insults of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church against Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church after the beginning of the Maidan.
The patriarch of Moscow and the pope met for the first time in history on February 12. The meeting had been prepared in secrecy for two years. The issue of holding such a meeting was on the Orthodox-Catholic agenda for about 20 years. Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis signed a joint declaration at the meeting in which they in particular stated that "it is today clear that the past method of 'uniatism', understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re-establish unity." They also called on Orthodox Christians and Uniates to reconcile and respect each other.