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Is Pope Francis, like Donald Trump, guilty of abject capitulation to Russia’s Vladimir Putin? That question was raised by one of the most respected Vatican commentators, John Allen, bringing to greater prominence a criticism often made behind closed doors.

“As with Trump, albeit in a very different key, the question that appears destined to plague Francis going forward is how much is too much – when flexibility and pragmatism, in other words, turn into craven placation?” Allen wrote. “So far, the verdict would appear to be that for both men, the answer remains a work in progress.”

Allen recounts how, since the first months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has proved an ally of Putin in Syria, where Russia has now re-established its Middle East presence in an alliance with President Bashar al-Assad.


And since 2014, Pope Francis has been muted in his criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, repeatedly disappointing members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC).

I noted here last month (in our June 15 issue) that, in a meeting with a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church in May, Pope Francis appeared to take the Russian side in all matters Ukrainian. That was noticed, apparently, in Kiev, for on July 3 there was a private audience granted to Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the UGCC, by the Holy Father, ostensibly to honour the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’ in 988.

The UGCC statement pointedly noted that the meeting had been requested by Major-Archbishop Shevchuk. Indeed, the lengthy statement by the UGCC after the meeting systematically refuted all the points made by Pope Francis in his meeting with the Russian Orthodox.

All of which is remarkable in 2018, which marks 30 years since the millennium of the baptism of the eastern Slavs in 988. In 1988, with the Cold War still on, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union was prepared to recognise the baptism of Kievan Rus’, the kingdom out which Russia, Belarus and Ukraine would eventually emerge.

In 1988, all were still part of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Orthodox Church claimed for itself the exclusive inheritance of the baptism of 988. Indeed, for the Russian Orthodox, the UGCC should not even exist, and the Soviet Union was right to crush it.

John Paul, though, insisted that the Greek Catholics of the Ukraine – still suppressed and illegal at that time – participate in the millennium celebrations, as heirs to the baptism of Kievan Rus’. hypoxic brain damage symptoms He published two apostolic letters to that effect in the spring of 1988, and celebrated Mass with the UGCC hierarchy in Rome in July 1988.

John Paul was making an argument in 1988 that the millennium belonged to more than just Moscow. Vladimir the Great ruled from Kiev – there was no Moscow at the time. He chose to be baptised in the Byzantine tradition of Christianity – this was before the split with what would become Orthodoxy – in Crimea.

John Paul and the Ukrainian Catholics saw it differently. The baptism of Russia in 988 was a baptism into a Byzantine Christianity in full communion with Rome, and took place in Ukraine’s capital. Today, who are the Ukrainians of Byzantine tradition who are in full communion with Rome? The UGCC.

“The gift of the Christian faith has been passed down as our greatest treasure,” said Major-Archbishop Shevchuk on July 15. “Today we thank God that it was the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who was privileged to be a successor to Prince Vladimir and his holy baptism.”

The political tension between Russia and Ukraine and the conflict between the Ukrainian Orthodox and the Russia Orthodox are all rooted in the history of 988. Over the millennium the gravitational centre of Orthodoxy and political power in the Slavic world shifted east from Kiev to Moscow. Today, Russia – both Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church – argue that this should mean a Ukraine that takes its lead, politically and religiously, from Moscow. Ukrainians disagree, feeling that Ukraine ought to move away from Moscow’s dominance, re-staking its own claim to the inheritance of 988.

July 28 is the date marking the baptism of Vladimir and the eastern Slavs. Thirty years ago, the Polish Pope made the relevant claims on behalf of the Ukrainian Catholics, for the millennium was not only about the past but also the present. Today, Major-Archbishop Shevchuk does the same in Kiev. nanoxia deep silence 120mm But the Holy See appears to have forgotten the position it took in 1988.

Our greatly admired and valued Committee Member, Anthony O’Mahony, director of the Centre of Eastern Christianity at Heythrop College, University of London, has been appointed to the Sir Daniel and Countess Bernardine Murphy Donohue Chair of Eastern Catholic Theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome for 2018.

The closure of the Centre for Eastern Christianity with the demise of Heythrop is much to be mourned. Founded in 2010, it became a remarkable place of encounter between the Eastern Churches and Christians in the UK, in London as a world city, in an historic Catholic higher education institution, with the spheres of academic study, Church life and leadership, and the broader context of civil society, politics and diplomacy. Through the Centre, Anthony has brought people together from across the globe and given them a voice, or a channel that otherwise they would not have had, to be heard and understood not only in Church and academic settings but in places of influence and policy too. To the leaders of Christians whose ancient Churches have been and remain under severe threat across the Middle East (where a century ago they constituted as much as 25% of the population, now reduced to under 5%) the Centre led by Anthony has been a beacon of hope and encouragement.

The Centre has provided access to research in the Christian East’s history, life, religion and present situation for a numerous and impressive community of new scholarship, at its peak the largest body of research students in a single discipline in Heythrop’s recent history. It has thus drawn in a larger network of people in the wider Church, both Eastern Catholics and Orthodox now present and settled in the UK, and also interested and concerned clergy and people from the western Churches. The regular series of open courses, lectures, events and research showcases have been a remarkable example of the mutual engagement, support and animation, both intellectual and pastoral, that properly exists between Church and Academy. The Society is recognises the immense value the Centre for Eastern Christianity has brought, since its aims are very close to those for which the Society was founded in 1927. It is also proud to have played a small part to support the initiative over the last eight years, and hopes to continue to do so as the work takes on new forms and opportunities.

It is a magnificent, and richly deserved, tribute that in the Centre’s concluding term at Heythrop, the value and importance of the accumulated work and knowledge of its founder and director have been internationally recognised by the award of this prestigious Chair (previous Donohue Professors have included Metropolitan Kallistos and Archbishop Rowan Williams). anxiety attack meaning in arabic The Chair also signifies the esteem in which the work, as its life at a Catholic university college in England ends, is held by the Universal Church at the principal Catholic institute for the study of Eastern Christianity in the service of the Bishop of Rome.

The next day, Saturday, I finished my novena and set out to continue my search for a church. This time I chose the Holborn area. Emerging from the underground, I stopped at the oldest church in London at Ely Place, Saint Ethelreda (1252 AD) and prayed there for a long time to find a church for Ukrainians. When I was returning to Farringdon underground station I saw a stone church, at the bottom of a dead-end street, that looked unused. Entering the lower area via stairs, I knocked at the side door. nanoxia ncore retro amazon A woman came out; it was Mrs Guidera, the wife of the local alderman. Seeing that I was a priest, she kindly invited me into the house, and it was there that I first learned about the church. It was a Catholic Church that, for the past 50 years, had been used as a school and had been damaged a little, in one place, by a bomb. Alderman Guidera had received funds from the city to fix the roof and, for this, Cardinal Griffon allowed him to live in one part of the school. “Our neighbour, said Mrs Guidera. has a door and window factory. He wants to buy this school so that he can expand his business and is offering the cardinal £5,000. I believe that this building is worth that amount.

The present Primate of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, has continued his predecessor’s legacy. Contrary to some perceptions, he welcomed the recent meeting of Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis The concerns he expressed related only to the phrasing of three paragraphs of the otherwise superb Havana Statement (pars. 25, 26 and 27). These presented a distorted interpretation of the situation in Ukraine, and belittled the ecclesial status of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Statement referred to them as “ecclesial communities,” a term in Catholic parlance reserved for Protestants. Moreover, the fact that Greco-Catholics were informed of their “right to exist” (par. 25) was viewed as a patronizing concession to what is actually a Church of true martyrs. In any case, the Balamand Agreed Statement had already asserted this right almost 25 years ago. anoxia meaning in hindi Notwithstanding this, Ukrainian Greco-Catholic hierarchs sincerely hope to see encounters like the Havana Meeting occur more often – and at different levels – so that each successive gathering might bring the participants closer to the Truth.

In any case, more Orthodox need to understand the reasons that so many Eastern Catholics remain Catholic. In part, at least, it relates to some of the unresolved issues that continue to generate division within Orthodoxy. Eastern Catholics have found them resolved as a result of union with Rome – imperfect as that union has been. Jurisdictional strife, for example, is essentially absent from Eastern Catholicism. Also, the ethno-phyletism that plagues parts of Orthodoxy is challenged by communion with a universal primate. Of course, Eastern Catholics can be just as guilty of the same ethno-phyletism (though, ironically, its proponents within Eastern Catholicism insist that they simply want a “national Church” – “just like the Orthodox”). However, as culpable as Eastern Catholics may be of this ecclesiological heresy, they nonetheless recognize the right of the Bishop of Rome to reprove and/or discipline Catholic leaders who would foment or tolerate nationalist hatred. And while the Pope’s admonitions may not always be heard, no one in the Catholic Church questions his right to exercise universal primacy in this way. These problems are not adduced here to point to “Orthodox failings.” They are only mentioned to illustrate why even those Eastern Catholics who passionately love Orthodoxy remain Catholic.

• The creation of an international theological dialogue involving official representatives of the Byzantine Catholic (or, Greek Catholic) Churches on the one hand, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches on the other. Presently, the Eastern Catholics who participate in the International Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue do so as delegates of the Vatican – not their own Synods. In any case, theological meetings of Eastern Orthodox and Catholics of the Byzantine tradition would facilitate focused discussions of issues particularly germane to these Churches. Such a dialogue could develop, for example, a common historiography of the 1946 Pseudo-Synod of Lviv. Some of the same Orthodox who appropriately decry proselytism continue to champion the Synod as a legitimate “return to Orthodoxy.”

• The publication by the Holy and Great Council – or a subsequent Conciliar commission – of theological and practical principles for Orthodox relations with Eastern Catholics. Naturally, different regions will adapt these principles according to diverse sensibilities. But certain uncharitable attitudes and behaviors, witnessed occasionally even in North America, would hopefully be declared unacceptable.

The Society of St John Chrysostom promotes greater appreciation of the spiritual, theological and liturgical traditions of Eastern Christendom, works and prays for the unity of the Churches of East and West, and encourages support for the Eastern Churches : – the Byzantine and Oriental Catholic Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome (especially in their contemporary calling to promote reconciliation and the recovery of union between Catholics and Orthodox) – the Orthodox Church – the Oriental Orthodox Churches and – the Church of the East. hypoxia anoxia In the United Kingdom and Europe the Society, founded in 1926, is a group of Catholics of the Latin and Eastern Churches, along with our friends in other traditions, promoting awareness and friendship in the Christian West for our fellow Christians of the East – through prayer and liturgy, conferences and lectures, pilgrimage and ecumenical encounters. In 1998 the Society was also founded in the United States, where it runs the annual North American and international Orientale Lumen conferences. In 2000, a new chapter of the Society was established for Australasia, based at the Centre for Early Christian Studies at the Catholic University of Australia. The Society is linked with the Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, The Theotokos Institute for Catholic Studies, Cardiff, the Turvey Abbey East-West Meetings and the Minster Abbey Orientale Lumen East-West Monastic Meetings. Join the Society of St John Chrysostom.