In the context of preparations for the second meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis, the situation with the seizure of the UOC church in Kolomyya remains relevant, in our opinion.
We remember that in 2017 there was a shocking incident of the seizure of an Orthodox church in Ivano-Frankivsk region, organized by Greek Catholic chaplains. What are, for example, threats from the Uniates to “cut” all members of the Orthodox community. And this does not take into account the real physical and moral violence against Orthodox believers.
There was no adequate reaction from the leader of the UGCC at that time (the head of the UGCC, who was then in London, Svyatoslav Shevchuk, did not interrupt his visit because of such a “trifle”), and those responsible for the seizure were not punished accordingly.
This incident is not just some local and insignificant event that could be overlooked and forgotten. In our opinion, the subject of any large-scale dialogue should be not only general theological concepts or problems, but also specific situations that affect the lives of specific believers.
Comparing the interchurch relations with the interstate ones, the incident in Kolomyya can be equated with an international scandal, followed by the presentation of a note or harsher diplomatic reactions. Moreover, the Uniates also voiced threats to force the Orthodox to leave all the churches that the Greek Catholics consider theirs.
In this context, Kolomyya, no doubt, should become one of the key topics of the dialogue between the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church and the RCC.
If the RCC wants to demonstrate a real, and not declarative, desire to improve relations with the Orthodox Church, its leadership is simply obliged to report on what concrete steps have been taken towards rectifying the situation. Because if the RCC is not able to meet the Orthodox half-way even in such local issues, then what can we say about more ambitious things?
It is hard to believe that the Pope does not have leverage over his subordinates in the UGCC in order to resolve this issue in the shortest possible time and in the spirit of the ecumenical concept, which her hierarchs love to quote.