by Desmond O'Grady in Rome
JOSEF Terelja , a lay Ukrainian Catholic released from prison earlier this year, has said that official negotiations to recognise the Ukrainian Catholic Church could begin within seven months.
Terelja's statement was made during an interview with the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana. It interviewed Terelja in Amsterdam. He has been allowed to leave the USSR for medical treatment.
Earlier this year he was one of a number of prisoners released under Gorbachev's new policy. In the interview he said that meetings between communists and Christians would help Gorbachev's policy and that with the appropriate diplomatic steps meetings between the Holy See, The Kremlin and representatives of Cardinal Lubachivsky, the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church who lives in Rome, should be possible.
Terelja seems sanguine about the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, but Cardinal Lubachivsky has said he does not believe in Gorbachev's good intentions.
Recently bishops, priests, monks and laity of the Ukrainian Catholic Church signed a petition requesting its recognition. In 1946 the Russian Orthodox Church took over the Ukrainian Catholic Church which was accused of having collaborated with the Nazi invaders. Since then the Ukrainian Catholic Church has gone underground.