Update 2/14: A full English translation of Patriarch Sviatoslav’s response to the Joint Declaration (sans Scriptural references) is now available from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s website here. My thanks once again to Fr. Athanasius McVay for allowing Opus Publicum to host his partial translation of the Patriarch’s words.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and All Rus, has issued an official statement on the Joint Declaration signed yesterday by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. The full text of the Patriarch’s statement — in Ukrainian — is available from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s official website. While Sviatoslav offers words of praise for the Joint Declaration, that praise is tempered by the fact that he was not consulted on the text despite being a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Fr. Athanasius McVay, a Greek Catholic priest, has kindly granted Opus Publicum permission to post his translation of the final three paragraphs of his Beatitude’s statement. He also added in Scriptural references at the end. Hopefully a full translation of Patriarch Sviatoslav’s words will be available in short order.
Undoubtedly, this text has caused deep disappointment among many of the faithful of our Church and among conscientious citizens of Ukraine. This day, many contacted me about this and said that they feel betrayed by the Vatican, disappointed by the half-truths in this document, and even see it as indirect support by the Apostolic See of Russian aggression against Ukraine. I can certainly understand understand those feelings.
Nevertheless, I encourage our faithful not to dramatize this declaration and not to exaggerate its importance to Church life. We have experienced more than one such declaration, and will survive this one as well. We need to remember that our unity and full communion with the Holy Father, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, is not the result of political agreement or diplomatic compromise, or the clarity of a text of a joint declaration. This unity and communion with the Peter of today is an essential characteristic of our Faith. It is to him, Pope Francis, and to each of us today, that Christ says in the Gospel of Luke: “Simon, Simon! Satan would sift you like wheat, but I prayed for you, so that your faith is not weakened, and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.”
It is for this unity with the Apostolic See [of Rome] that the martyrs and confessors of the Faith of the Church of the twentieth century gave their lives and sealed their blood. Precisely commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Lviv Pseudo-Synod, we share their strength of witness, their sacrifice which, in our day, often appears to be a stumbling block – the stone which the builders of international relations often rejected. But it is the Christ Stone of Peter’s faith that the Lord made the cornerstone of the future of all Christians. And it will be “marvellous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22; Mt 21:42; Lk 20:17; Act 4:11; Ep 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7)