On Friday, Pope Francis met with Patriarch Krill, who is the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the leader of about half of the world’s Eastern Orthodox members. He certainly holds influence in their church.
The meeting took place in Cuba and they signed a joint declaration, which can be found here:
I have many things to say about this document but there is one thing that I want to make clear. Paragraph 25 deals with the Greek Catholic community in Eastern Orthodox lands such as Ukraine. Paragraph 25 reads:
It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. 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. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.
I find this paragraph very pejorative and condescending. Though I wasn’t raised, in the Greek Catholic Church, much of my extended family was, so I’d go to services a few times a year for family events, weddings, and funerals. It was certainly part of my cultural and faith formation.
This paragraph states that the new ecumenical orientation of the Church in the last fifty years doesn’t have room for the Greek Catholic Church. They are a thorn in the side of the false ecumenism preached promoted by many in the Church but permitted to exist.
I am all for dialogue with other faiths, but to throw the Greek Catholic Church under the bus for the sake of pleasing an ecclesial community which is in schism, is not the way to dialogue. Dialogue must be honest and denying an important part of Catholic heritage is not honest in the least.
Throughout the years, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has greatly suffered at the hands of the Russians. Many bishops were murdered during the Soviet era. Also, property was confiscated and much of it has not been returned to this day. This occurred in other countries as well, such as Belarus, Romania, and Russia. The Ukrainian Catholic Church gave us the great St. Josephat Kuntsevich, Archbishop of Polotsk and martyr of the 1595 Union of Brest which created the Greek Catholic Church. It has also given us many holy priests, nuns, and lay people. To simply brush them aside and only say that they have the right to exist is inconsistent with the principles of the Church.
In 1923, Pope Pius XI wrote in the encyclical Ecclesiam Dei the following about the Union of Brest:
These relations, however, were happily resumed in 1595, and in the following year, at the Treaty of Brest, unity was solemnly proclaimed due to the efforts of the Metropolitan of Kiev and of other Ruthenian bishops. Clement VIII received these bishops with deep affection, to which he gave expression in the Constitution Magnus Dominus, where he asked that all the faithful render thanks to God “who always thinks thoughts of peace and wishes all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
The document speaks of relations being happily resumed and that the unity was solemnly proclaimed. Pope Pius XI then writes:
In order that this unity and concord might be perpetuated forever, God, in His supreme providence consecrated it, so to speak, by the seal of sanctity and of martyrdom.
Dialogue requires honesty, and honesty requires truth. Dialogue done without honesty is dangerous to the faith and dishonest to the faithful of both parties.