Greek-Catholics Out in the Cold in Crimea

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine, FEB. 2, 2001 ( A Greek-Catholic community in this Black Sea port is facing ongoing opposition from the Orthodox Church, which has prevented it from building a church to serve its 200-strong community, the Keston News Service reports (

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The problem simmers, just months before John Paul II´s visit to Ukraine, which he hopes will help promote dialogue with the Orthodox in this country of 49 million people.

Despite having obtained registration a decade ago, the Greek-Catholics have failed in persistent attempts to acquire a plot of land in central Sevastopol to build their own church. City Council in 1995 approved a development plan which includes up to 99 Orthodox churches, but leaves no space for a Greek-Catholic church.

It is not clear if the refusal to grant the Greek-Catholics land for a church will be discussed when the apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, visits Sevastopol next week, although he will discuss with City Council the refusal to hand back the confiscated Roman Catholic church.

Anatoli Sigora, a senior official of the religious affairs department of Sevastopol´s city administration, said, «The Orthodox do everything they can to prevent Greek-Catholics, whom they consider ´uncanonical,´ from acquiring a plot, especially near the Orthodox churches. Historically, there has never been a single Greek-Catholic church in this area.»

Orthodox obstruction has also prevented the Greek-Catholics from joining the Interconfessional Council of the Crimea, of which Roman Catholic Father Roman Derdzyak of the Latin rite is a permanent member. The explanation given is that the Greek-Catholics are not a «traditional» denomination in the region.

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