This news is a little bit old already (a couple of weeks), but I believe it is worth bringing it to the attention of those who may not have noticed it.
At the invitation of Fr. Peter Taran, SA, a seasoned ecumenist, I spoke on this exact topic during the January 2006 "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" at "Graymoor" in Garrison, NY, - the headquarters of the founders of this yearly ecumenical observance (pictured here). I was asked to address the topic of Christian unity from the experience of the Ukrainian Church.
Having been in Ukraine just several months prior to the talk, I was able to give my impressions of the real situation of the unity-movement, as seen from the "grass roots level." I mentioned the existence of liturgical and pastoral cooperation between both the various Ukrainian Orthodox jurisdictions as well as among Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Catholics. I spoke of the historical "bridge" Ukraine has been over the centuries, even having an, albeit awkward, but nonetheless real, situation of dual communion, for a period of time in the 17th. century. Now, the Ecumenical Patriarch believes that "the people at the grass roots have to come together again" (see below).
Not all listeners seemed to get my point at that time - to fathom a Catholic church in union with both Rome & Constantinople or an Orthodox church in a similar situation of reciprocal communion. Now, the same idea appears, directly from the mouth of the "Ecumenical Throne."
Those who may have found my words perplexing or even illogical then, can re-think them now. Others, who minimize the importance of the Ukrainian Church in ecumenical progress, OR even see it as an obstacle to dialogue with so-called, more "legitimate" churches such as the Moscow Patriarchate, (as alleged by at least one priest I know, who is engaged in ecumenical work), should think again. Unity may be closer than we all think and it may come, as have many good things, from the crossroads of the European world - Ukraine. WHO WOULD HAVE IMAGINED THAT, RIGHT? ? ?
The Ukrainian Church is a church of martyrs and their blood has been freshly spilt during the long Soviet-totalitarian regime of the last century. When I have walked on that same soil upon which tread the confessors and defenders of our Ukrainian Christian faith, I have felt such awe and a quiet but steady and sure sense of an exciting future. Yes, it has been said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of faith. In Ukraine's case, the blood shed can well be the seed of "unity in the faith and communion in the Holy Spirit" (Divine Liturgy - Ektenia "Anhela Mirna"). - +Vladyka Mykhayil -
Orthodox leader suggests "dual unity" for Eastern Catholics
Constantinople, Jun. 19, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople has responded favorably to a suggestion by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for a system of "dual unity" in which Byzantine Catholic churches would be in full communion with both Constantinople and Rome.
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople welcomed the proposal in an interview with the magazine Cyril and Methodius, the RISU news service reports. The acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world suggested that the "dual unity" approach would produce something akin to the situation of the Christian world in the 1st millennium, before the split between Rome and Constantinople.
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kyiv, the Patriarch/Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church-- the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches-- had offered the possibility that Byzantine Catholics might seek communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, without giving up their communion with the Holy See. Patriarch Bartholomew expressed distinct interest in the idea, saying that "the mother Church in Constantinople holds the doors open for the return of all her former sons and daughters."
Patriarch Bartholomew acknowledged that a restoration of unity would require study, and important differences would have to be overcome. However, he observed that major steps have already been taken to resolve disagreements-- most importantly the revocation of the mutual decrees of excommunication issued by Rome and Constantinople against each other in 1054.
While Catholic and Orthodox theologians continue their efforts to reach agreement on doctrinal questions, Patriarch Bartholomew said, "the people at the grass roots have to come together again." He pointed to the "dual unity" idea as a possible step toward practical unity.
Cardinal Husar, the Ukrainian Catholic leader, has suggested in the past that the Orthodox and Byzantine (Greek) Catholics of Ukraine should unite under the leadership of a single patriarch. That provocative suggestion is particularly interesting for two reasons.
First, Greek Catholics in Ukraine argued for years-- particularly since emerging vigorously from the shadow of Communist repression-- that the Ukrainian Catholic Church should be accorded the status of a patriarchate. Both the late Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have expressed some sympathy for that suggestion. The Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church is substantially larger than other Catholic churches that are recognized as patriarchates, including the Maronite, Melkite, Chaldean, Syrian, Armenian and Coptic Catholic churches. However, Kyiv is not a historical patriarchal see like Antioch or Alexandria. And the recognition of a Ukrainian Catholic patriarchate would be sure to provoke outrage from the Russian Orthodox Church, which has complained frequently and bitterly about the activities of Byzantine Catholics in Ukraine.
Second, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is badly split, with three different groups competing for recognition as leaders of the Byzantine faithful. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kyiv Patriarchate is led by Patriarch Filaret, who was once acknowledged by Moscow but broke with the Russian Orthodox Church after Ukraine gained political independence. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Moscow Patriarchate retains ties to Russian Orthodoxy. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, smaller than the other two, has frequently sided with the Kyiv patriarchate in efforts to form a single, unified Orthodox Church in Ukraine, independent from Moscow.