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    MOSCOW, February 22, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Olga Lipich) -Establishment of a Kiev Patriarchy of the Greek Catholic Church will ruin the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and Vatican for decades, Patriarch Alexy II has announced.

    On the Shrove Sunday the Patriarch received a Vatican delegation headed by cardinal Walter Casper, chairman of the papal council for Christian unity, in his working residence in Chisty Pereulok.

    According to Alexy II, the Greek Roman Church is "part of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Roman Catholic Church is fully responsible for the activities of its Uniates".

    "We agreed in Freising that the union was not the way to unite Churches," he recalled. "Then why trying so stubbornly to move the cathedra of the Greek Roman Church from Lvov to Kiev and to establish a patriarchy?" When western regions of Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union, the Greek Catholic Church was prohibited by Stalin, Alexy II said. "Many of those who today serve in the Greek Catholic Church have received education in our ecclesiastical schools, for example, in St. Petersburg. Throughout the 1950s, after the war, Greek Catholics received spiritual fare in our Orthodox churches," he recalled. "When religious freedom came, they should have expressed their gratitude to their sister church," he pointed out.

    Instead, "the wave of wild nationalism destroyed three Orthodox episcopates in Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk and Ternopol", the Patriarch said. "Orthodox Christians were driven out of their churches, priests were beaten, relics desecrated, churches taken by force", he explained. According to him, in the 21st century it was impossible to imagine this being relations towards a sister church, as Vatican calls the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The Patriarch also asked cardinal Casper not to consider him "a person of anti-Catholic moods". "However, seeing what is going on the canonic territory of the Church God destined me to head, I cannot but speak of the problems that exist between our Churches," Alexy II concluded.