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* RUSSIA * PATRIARCHATE * HOLY SEE * UKRAINE * OPINION *

#POPE SUSPENDS UKRAINIAN PATRIARCHATE DECISION. RUSSIAN CHURCH TOP APPROVES#

MOSCOW, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Orthodox Church has "deservedly approved" a pontifical suspension of establishing a Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine.

"Our Church is highly appreciating the attention which Pope John Paul II has paid to the stances of almost all autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches of the world as they disapprove prospects for a Greek Catholic Patriarchate to appear in Ukraine," says Father Vsevolod Chaplin. The dignitary is second in charge of the External Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate.

As His Holiness John Paul II was receiving permanent Synod members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the Vatican City today, he said the prospects to establish a Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Ukraine had been indefinitely suspended.

"To all appearances, today's [pontifical] statement means that there are no close practical prospects for an Ukrainian Patriarchate. We hope it will never appear," said Father Vsevolod.

At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church remains apprehensive with "attempts to spread Greek Catholicism to Central, South and East Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and on.

"The idea of Uniate [derogatory name for Greek Catholicism] proselytising in areas which the Union [of the Greek and Roman rites] had never penetrated, or where it did not last long, clashes with reassurances of the Roman Catholic Church having no intention to missionise the Orthodox Christian flock, as such reassurances are coming from the Vatican City.

"Also alarming the Russian Orthodox Church are developments in West Ukraine, where believers [of the Eastern Rite] are downtrodden. The clergy of the Lvov Eparchy recently picketed Ukraine's parliament and presidential administration. The pickets called the secular top's attention to appeals ignored for many years-authorities have not to this day permitted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate to build churches in Lvov," pointed out Father Vsevolod.

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