Ukrainian Catholics Would Welcome Alexy II

Cardinal Husar Foresees Positive Effects

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LVIV, Ukraine, JAN. 12, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church would be delighted to receive the Orthodox patriarch of Moscow as a «guest of great importance,» if he visits as planned, says a cardinal.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, archbishop major of Lviv of the Ukrainians, said he hopes that the visit, announced in November but postponed because of Patriarch Alexy II’s health problems and other commitments, might improve relations between the various confessions in Ukraine.

In a public statement, the leader of Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine, recalled the positive effects of John Paul II’s visit to his country in June 2001, and hoped that the Russian Orthodox leader’s visit will bring new «positive effects.»

Alexy II is patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox, although in recent years schisms have arisen in this country.

In the statement broadcast by Vatican Radio, Cardinal Husar said that «the will of Christ is clear to us: that they be one.»

«The path to unity is certainly very long, but the time has come to take the first steps … courageously,» beginning with mutual understanding and forgiveness, he said.

Cardinal Husar hoped that a visit by the patriarch would contribute to «put order» «in evangelical relations among the three branches of Ukrainian Orthodoxy» and reinforce «Christian and social peace among peoples.»

Ukraine has over 48 million inhabitants. Catholics constitute 9.3% of the population, according the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church.

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