Proto-ecumenical views and activities of the Metropolitan
The Metropolitan's dialogue with the Orthodox world, as well as his activities regarding the Orthodox of the Russian Empire, can be conventionally called ecumenical. Cardinal Lubomyr Huzar, a researcher of the metropolitan's views on Church unity, provided quite a suitable characterization: "It is obvious that Sheptytsky was not ecumenical in sense of the Second Vatican Council. However, he was the epitome of ecumenism, one who most of the time fought difficulties on his own, without official directives and often contrary to the guidelines of the highest church authorities."
The unity of the Church of Christ was his dream since young years, plans and concrete steps towards the achievement of Church unity became an important part of all his activities. His reflections, ideas and plans about how Christians of the East and the West could be reunited occupy a very important place in his spiritual heritage.
He worked tirelessly on the creation of the Russian Greek Catholic Church, headed by the exarch Leonid Fyodorov. Metropolitan Sheptytsky sought to persuade the leadership of the Churches, the clergy and the faithful, both in the East and in the West, that dialogue, understanding and searching for ways to unite are of great importance to all Christians - Catholics and Orthodox.
Sheptytsky was the first one to start corresponding with Russian Orthodox bishops, throwing open the doors of dialogue.
The Metropolitan actively participated in the Velehrad Congresses, which, while discussing specific theological issues, was his attempt to build bridges of understanding between Christians of the East and the West. The Metropolitan’s views on the ways of uniting were changing and developing. Eventually, Sheptytsky distanced himself from the traditional views on the "conversion" of the Orthodox. He believed that inter-church dialogue, as well as and searching for understanding and uniting the Churches as institutions, was most important
The Metropolitan considered spreading the Church of Christ to be even of higher importance. He believed that Christians needed a long time to learn how to listen, understand and love each other, regardless of the differences between the rite and the church's jurisdiction.
"A man who loves Christ seeks universality, which is inseparable feature of personality and teaching of Jesus Christ."(1925).
"The first thing that should be done to bring them closer to the Catholic Church is to make sure that they do not need to change anything in their Church or ritual, national traditions or customs, and that they may become Catholics, clinging to all their rites as they did before, without any changes." (1931).