Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the leader of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, has issued an invitation to the country’s most prominent Orthodox leader to attend services for the opening of a new Catholic cathedral in Kiev. The Orthodox Metropolitan Vladimir expressed thanks for the invitation and “wished God’s blessings” on the cathedral, the Ukrainian Catholic Church reports.
The invitation to the Orthodox prelate, and his friendly reply, could mark a thaw in the often tense relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church had strongly objected to the plans to move the headquarters of the Ukrainian Catholic Church from Lviv to Kiev. But Metropolitan Vladimir—whose Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate is allied with the Russian Church—seemed ready to accept the development.
In conversations with Catholic prelates last week—during a visit to Ukraine by Cardinal Kurt Koch, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity—Metropolitan Vladimir observed that “unfortunately,” many of the Orthodox faithful regard ecumenical dialogue as a betrayal of the Orthodox faith. His use of the word “unfortunately,” if it was accurately reported, suggested that the Orthodox leader would like to correct that perception.
Metropolitan Vladimir also said that tensions between Catholics and Orthodox should be resolved by the Ukrainian faithful, not by directives from Moscow.