The big news in the Catholic and Orthodox Church is the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.At least my opinion: I don't believe there is such a thing as the Orthodox Church, spiritually speaking. These are dioceses (local churches) and even particular churches (such as the Russian), sharing a (wonderful traditional) rite and the first few centuries of our doctrine, so there is a small-t Orthodox tradition, but they don't form a whole with any spiritual authority we recognize, even though they retain bishops, the Mass, and the other sacraments. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the local Greek Orthodox metropolis are sisters. The Latin Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are sisters. The Catholic Church by nature has no sisters. Easy to misunderstand, as most Catholics are in the Latin Church.
Sadly, this historic event has brought to light some old prejudices towards Uniates.Long the reason recent Russian patriarchs gave for not meeting the Pope, understandable given their mirror true-church claim to ours. To them it's as if a Methodist minister put on a chasuble and claimed to have Mass for Mexican immigrants to America, trying to convert them. But it also was an excuse for Soviet atrocities against Uniates, of which the Russian Orthodox Church was a beneficiary. The Russians hate the Ukrainian Catholic Church because 1) they can't own it like they can the Russian Orthodox Church and 2) they believe their Ukrainian close cousins should be in their empire and church and are outraged they are not.
...laud the ideal of Christian unity (much to the displeasure I imagine of certain sectors of Orthodoxy).Same fear of a sellout some of us have, but not really a problem; the thing is each side of course hopes for the submission of the other. Our doctrine allows nothing less. I'm upfront about that.
...call for the sanctity of life and marriage. It also addresses a new (and frightening) development that of manipulation of human reproduction.Standard Catholic stuff, good to see, setting this statement apart from the usual bland ecumenicism.
You bring up a point I overlooked, which is significant: the patriarch is perhaps begrudgingly acknowledging the Ukrainian Catholic Church's right to be left in peace, which one may, seeing religious liberty as a relative good. Maybe the Russians are just being diplomatic, recognizing the independent Ukraine (Ukrainian Catholics being a minority there, concentrated in the western part of the country, and very patriotically Ukrainian).
What does "disloyal means" mean? That it's disloyal to become Catholic? That would be unacceptable. While we want to bring these estranged particular churches back all together, of course we accept individual conversions, passively and quietly.
"Ecclesial communities"? Sounds like a mistake. Normally in Vaticanese that refers to Protestant churches, that is, non-churches. Both our own particular churches and dioceses and the Orthodox ones are "churches."
Here I should bring up the dishonorable reason people such as Byz Anti-Cath Dot Org would cheer for this acknowledgment that the Ukrainian Catholic Church has the right to be. They don't really believe in Catholicism. They have the fantasy that Orthodoxy is right but the Uniates are already Orthodox; they want Catholicism to "acknowledge that" by dumping its post-schism definitions of doctrine (of course we can't do that and don't want to) and to walk into Orthodoxy with its clergy already recognized by the Orthodox. They want to just start intercommuning. Religious liberty makes a good cover for this agenda, as does their credal and liturgical conservatism getting conservative Catholics' trust. (Not to be confused with supporting unlatinized forms of Byzantine Catholicism, which is good; also, the latinized forms have the right to exist.)
The Russians aren't returning to the church any time soon but if they're not trying to kill or imprison us, at least that's a start.
By the way, I don't think Msgr. Kirill agreed to meet the Pope because he thought he needed clout in his particular church's power struggle with the Patriarch of Constantinople. Being geopolitically important, in a large empire with nukes, is enough clout.