DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY June 4, 1998 vol. 9, no. 108
NEWS & VIEWS
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX REJECT VISIT BY VATICAN CARDINAL
KIEV (CWNews.com) - Leaders of Ukraine's Orthodox Church on Wednesday called the visit to the country by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano "Catholic expansionism," even as Ukrainian officials said religious tensions remain to high to contemplate a visit by Pope John Paul II.
The cardinal met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to discuss a possible papal visit and the return of property to Catholics that was confiscated during the Soviet era and given to the Orthodox Church. After Soviet dictator Josef Stalin banned Catholicism in 1946 thousands of priests and laymen were exiled to Siberia but church members continued services in forests and private homes to avoid arrest. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, Catholics and Orthodox have feuded over the return of the property, including churches, as well as the activity of Catholics in perceived Orthodox regions.
Kuchma's spokesman, Olexander Maydannyk, said remaining
tensions prevent any papal visit in the near term. "When
this visit will take place, if at all, is too early to
say," he said. "Such a visit by the Pope to a country like
Ukraine would take long preparation," Maydannyk said. "The
Pope takes a very balanced position and doesn't want to
upset relations between religions (in Ukraine)." Maydannyk
said Ukraine had handed back 1300 properties to the Catholic
Church since 1991. "We have given back more to the Catholics
than any other confession," he said. He added Kuchma would
soon appoint an ambassador to the Vatican to strengthen
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS