So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Russians, right history and reconciliation.

An excerpt from the Statement from the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Canada) Regarding the Meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba, which reads:
3. The Moscow Patriarchate’s continued misrepresentation of ecclesiastical events in Ukraine.
Frequently, the free and legitimate desire of Christians in Ukraine to choose which Church they belong to, is portrayed by the Moscow Patriarchate as the seizure of her parishes by “illegitimate,” and even “violent,” means. Ukraine does not have an established Church or religion. Its legislation in this area is fully pluralistic. Consequently, attempts by the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine to gain privileged status run counter to the separation of church and state in Ukraine. In fact, it is the Moscow Patriarchate’s false or exaggerated accusations of violence that engender hostility among Christians who might otherwise resolve these issues of ecclesial allegiance with far less rancor. The Moscow Patriarchate should be apprised of the fact that in Ukraine her desire to maintain the kind of privileged status that it enjoyed under Communism is harmful to its own interests – not to mention the proclamation of the Gospel.
4. The Moscow Patriarchate’s claims against the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
Since the emergence of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) from the underground in 1989, the Moscow Patriarchate has consistently made mendacious accusations against the UGCC. These began with claims of “violent take-overs” of parishes in Western Ukraine and continued with false reports of proselytism, which have never been substantiated. Meanwhile, the parishes that chose to break with Moscow in the early 1990s were all parishes that had been part of the UGCC until 1946. In that year the Soviet government, with the complicity of representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, forcibly liquidated the UGCC throughout the USSR. The unwillingness of the Moscow Patriarchate to honestly discuss these matters is another impediment to the healing of memories, promoted so eloquently by Saint John Paul II. Moreover, every time that the Moscow Patriarchate has been asked to provide a list of the victims of violence – with medical reports etc – it has failed to do so.
The recent meeting between Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, has been a momentous one, indeed. Much good might come from it as the Russians now have the opportunity to reflect on their unnecessary separation from the Catholic Church and the supreme authority of Christ's earthly vicar, the Bishop of Rome.

A true healing of memories requires dialogue in the truth. The Statement by the Sheptytsky Institute makes the point that without the facts of history taken into account, there can be little authentic healing achieved.

The Russian Orthodox Church, a true apostolic church, needs to reevaluate its relationship with the Russian state and the other churches in the Constantinopolitan communion based in Istanbul.
Next month marks the 70th anniversary of the Pseudo-Synod of Lviv of 1946. It was at that gathering that the Soviet government declared the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church illegal. This led to the forced deportation of tens of thousands of Catholics and the countless deaths of those who refused to leave the Catholic Church and join the Russian Orthodox Church. In view of the constant misrepresentation of these events by representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, last year the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies invited an academic institution with ties to the Moscow Patriarchate to cosponsor an international conference on the events of 1946. The conference would have provided an excellent opportunity for both sides to objectively and fairly study the facts. The request fell on deaf ears.—SI source/link
Let us hope and pray that the Russian Orthodox will come to appreciate that an apology for its complicity with an evil state is appropriate for Christians who who take seriously the Lord's prayer that "all may be one" (St. John 17:21). The ability to apologize for wrongs committed is a confirmation of confidence in the mercy of God and a sign of willingness to embrace the call of the Holy Spirit to dialogue in truth in aid of the communion of Christ's disciples as willed by Christ Himself.

May the most holy Mother of God, through her maternal intercession, bring our separated brethren into full communion with the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ on the Apostle Peter, the first Bishop of Rome.

May the blood of the martyrs provide all people with a mirror of truth which calls all people to seek justice and reconciliation.

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