MEMBERS OF PERMANENT SYNOD OF UGKTs IN ROME DESCRIBE FOR DIPLOMATS RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AND INTER-CHURCH RELATIONS
RISU, 3 March 2016
On Wednesday, 2 March 2016, in the Ukrainian Pontifical College of St. Josaphat, on the initiative of the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, a meeting was held of the Permanent Synod of UGKTs and member of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
The event began with prayer in the college chapel, after which in the conference hall diplomats had the opportunity to hear the hierarchs' description of and to pose their own questions about the situation in Ukraine, cooperation among churches, and social initiatives of the church in current circumstances.
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGKTs), His Beatitude Sviatoslav, noted that the conduct of the regular session of the Permanent Synod in Rome and a meeting with the Holy Father were scheduled in the context of commemoration of the sad 70th anniversary of the false council of Lvov in 1946, which liquidated the UGKTs on the territory of the Soviet Union.
The goal of the planned meeting with the bishop of Rome is to witness to the communion that was confirmed by the martyrdom and exploit of the underground church. As His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted, this visit is grounded on the "expression of the faith of the people," and not some political foundation. And the fact that it is taking place also in the context of the ambiguous reaction of Ukrainian society to the so-called Havana Declaration is a "coincidence of providence."
Vladyka Boris Gudziak, eparch of Paris and head of the Department of External Relations of the UGKTs, presented to the diplomats the current situation of the UGKTs in the context of the thorny path that it traversed after its liquidation on the territory of the USSR and in the context of its revival after Ukraine acquired independence. Then the bishop presented the current social problems being experienced by Ukraine, pointing out the impoverishment evoked by the war and the humanitarian challenges connected with the presence of 2 million internally displaced persons.
The meeting also became an opportunity to refute myths and propaganda clichés connected with the Revolution of Dignity and current aggressions against Ukraine and to present the activity of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which unites not only Christians of various confessions but also representatives of Judaism and Islam.
Responding to a question about the state of interconfessional relations, the head of UGKTs emphasized: "We have begun not only to peacefully coexist, for which the said declaration calls, but to cooperate and to speak with one voice." And although various reasons prevent theological dialogue, practical ecumenism has reached a very high level, particularly in the context of the necessity of giving a common answer to contemporary challenges. After all, existential problems demolish walls and therefore "ecumenism in Ukraine is not diplomatic and not theoretical, but practical life."
They also talked about how the church should prevent distrust among people that is evoked by various current trials and about the source of hope. It was stressed that in Ukrainian society there has appeared a large number of people who are ready to move forward at a time when politicians may cause disappointment. In this context the "movement from below" is important and various reform initiatives that are being effected thanks to the efforts of various public associations.
It was noted that one of the contributions of the church to this process is the distribution of the social doctrine that is now finding an appreciative audience in Ukraine. The principles of this doctrine, such as solidarity, subsidiarity, respect for the dignity of the individual, the common good, and also that honest business is possible, are needed in Ukrainian society, and thus the social teaching also becomes a means of evangelism. This was reported by Radio Vatican. (tr. by PDS, posted 4 March 2016)
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