RIA Novosti, 30 April 2018

The Orthodox and Catholic churches will not unite because of many contradictions and disagreements that have arisen in the thousand-year history of their separate existence, declared the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion.

Commenting on air for the program “Church and World” on television channel Russia 24 regarding the statement by Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew about the inevitability of unification of the two branches of Christianity, the Russian church hierarch expressed disagreement with such a point of view.

“I do not share this position on the basis of a completely realistic analysis of the situation in local Orthodox churches and the situation in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Despite the fact that the foundations of our faith are identical and our creed is almost identical, Catholics have a different understanding about the procession of the Holy Spirit—that is the first point. And the second, in the now almost thousand-year history of separate existence many contradictions and disagreements have accumulated between us,” Metropolitan Ilarion said.

For example, several persons who are recognized in the Catholic Church as saints are considered in the Russian Orthodox Church to be heretics or persecutors of Orthodoxy.

“Catholics talk about the possible canonization of Cardinal [Aloysius Viktor] Stepinac. This cardinal was a Croat and in the Catholic Church he is honored as a saint. But in the opinion of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in the years of the Second World War the cardinal participated directly and in an immediate way in the genocide of Serbs,” the hierarch of the RPTs said.

Metropolitan Ilarion cited a number of other arguments showing why the unification of the churches is not a prospect for the foreseeable future. These include numerous attempts to impose Unia upon Orthodox believers, which were made by the Catholics during the Crusades, as well as the modern active anti-Orthodox activity of Uniates in Ukraine. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 May 2018).