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Archbishop Yevstratiy of Cherniyiv expressed the wish of the Church of Ukraine to become a full member of two inter-Christian bodies, the World Council of Churches and the CEC (Conference of European Churches), as well as the hope that their applications will be answered positively.
During a press conference held today at the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Archbishop Yevstratiy, responding to a question regarding the presence of the delegation of the Church of Russia, stressed that “it is not up to us to decide who will be here. The Church of Russia is a member of the World Council of Churches and it is up to it to respond to their presence here. However, I enjoy the fact that they have to suffer to hear everything that is said about them, such as what the German president said a few days ago.”
He also explained that there was no contact or meeting with them. “If they want to say something to the Ukrainians, we are ready to listen and talk. But if they want to talk about Russian propaganda again, what we hear every day from the Russian media, we don’t need that. If they have something else Christian and sincere, then we are ready to meet them.”
He added that he had experience in the last 15 years from various contacts with officials of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and with the then Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Hilarion.
“We tried again and again. But it’s not easy to start a dialogue with someone who completely rejects your right to exist. The Orthodox Church of Russia treats our Church – and there are millions of us – as if we were not Christians, as if we were not even baptized. Because we are like no other threat to their dream of becoming an empire again. We are ready for dialogue. But not to listen to their propaganda,” underlined the Archbishop of Cherniyiv.
He even cited as an example in September 2014 when a conference was held in Oslo, which was not attended by the Church of Russia.
“Russia is not a free country. Their Church, as a legal entity, is under the full control and pressure of the government. If the government allows them something, they will do it. If not, it won’t happen.”
Regarding the meeting with the delegation of the Church of Ukraine under Metropolitan Onufriy, he stressed that “I did not know until now that they had serious representation. There’s a professor here. I represent my church. I don’t know what the Professor represents from the Church of Metropolitan Onufriy,” he noted.
He also stressed that this Church has responded to their calls for dialogue, with three conditions. “Firstly, to accept that we do not have an Autocephalous Church, secondly that we are not ordained Bishops, and thirdly to accept that they will decide on the later regime.”
He added that he estimates that there are many within the Moscow Patriarchate who do not believe the official propaganda and that some priests may raise their voices, but “unfortunately we do not see any real resistance to this aggressive and unjustified behavior of Russia in Ukraine.”