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Ukrainian Catholic leader responds to legal threat from government

By on Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Ukrainian Catholic leader Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk (CNS)

Ukrainian Catholic leader Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk (CNS)

The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, has responded to a letter from the government threatening the UGCC with legal action.

According to Vatican Radio, the letter was sent in response to the Church’s pastoral support for Ukrainians taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

In a press conference on Monday, Major Archbishop Shevchuk said that the Church is not directly involved in politics, adding that it will not refuse when its faithful ask for spiritual help. “Our church has always been true to this mission that Christ entrusted to our Church,” the Major Archbishop said, “and will remain so for the future and despite any threats.”

In the letter, sent by the Ministry of Culture, the behaviour of UGCC priests in Kiev’s Independence Square, where protests have been taking place since December, was described as “a violation of Ukrainian legislation regarding the freedom of conscience and religious meetings,” which could lead to “the cancellation of the Church’s activities” and criminal charges.