Russian church blames Uniates for difficult relations with Catholics

Moscow, Russia - The difficulties in the relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican stem primarily from the activities of Greek Catholics in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church believes.

"When we speak of difficulties with Catholics we mean primarily Western Ukraine. The situation there is difficult and in some places critical," Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations, told a Moscow news conference on Wednesday.

He said that the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate cannot has been unable to secure land for construction of a church in Lviv or other cities.

"The Vatican is in a position to influence the stance of the Uniates [Greek Catholics] but unfortunately does not do so," the bishop said.

He said that in the past representatives of the Catholic Church said they tried to support their religion among ethnic Poles and Germans in Russia but "today the vector has changed."

"A certain new approach that did not exist before is aimed at justifying the efforts that we regard as proselytism," the bishop said.

He added that "there are no problems with Catholics and relations can be described as perfect" for instance in Ireland and many other countries.

"Nevertheless, despite the difficulties, we call the Catholic Church a sister church and Catholics our brothers in Christ," he said.