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Ukrainian Greek-Catholic leader pushes for ecumenism and freedom of Ukrainians


As one of the youngest leaders of any of the Catholic Churches, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk leads a congregation of 4.3 million. That makes the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church the biggest of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

And even though its membership is tiny compared to the wider Roman Catholic Church, it faces many unique challenges. 

Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
November 26, 2013
"To start off, we had to regain our properties, specifically our churches and places of worship. Clearly, in the 90's this caused some tension with the Orthodox Church.”

Tensions that came up between the Churches after the fall of the Soviet Union have eased with time. Arch. Shevchuk recognizes that challenges remain. But he argues that dialogue is essential to the life of Ukrainian Greek-Catholics.

Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
November 26, 2013
"We want to be the protagonists of ecumenism. Precisely the Second Vatican Council, in its decrees, made it clear that the main task of the Eastern Catholic Churches is to rebuild the unity of the Church, especially with our Orthodox brothers.”

He notes that in some cases, the two Churches even worship in the same place. Another major stepping stone is the creation of a special council of Churches. It allows them to build a common stance on important social and moral debates.

Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
November 26, 2013
"In these days, what's happening in Ukraine is a discussion about its relationship with the European Union. This is also a moral issue, because it can be said that it's a discussion about the future. What type of society do we want to build? An authoritarian society based on values more in line with the Asian continent, or will we redefine ourselves as a European nation?”

Although the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church supports the right of people to speak their minds, Arch. Shevchuk said it must be done peacefully, and through lawful means. Regardless of what happens, he said his Church will always be there to promote Christian values in society.