Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox bishops in Kolomyia have joined in a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a new church, which they are building as a joint project to celebrate the 1022nd anniversary of the “Baptism of the Rus,” the establishment of Christianity in Ukraine. The joint project is a remarkable breakthrough in a country that has seen persistent tensions between the Orthodox Church and the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Catholic Bishop Mykola Simkaylo and his Orthodox counterpart Ivan Boychuk said that the new church reflects their “joint purpose: to build a unique church in Ukraine. By holding joint events we unite our faithful in one Christian family.”
The Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is by far the largest of the Eastern-rite churches faithful to the Holy See, has long sought to establish a Catholic patriarchate in Ukraine. While some Orthodox clerics have hinted that they might welcome that development and even adhere to an Eastern Catholic patriarchate, the suggestion has drawn heated opposition from the Russian Orthodox Church, which claims Ukraine as its “canonical territory.”