BELIEVERS made a proper sense POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION
People of faith publicly expressed their concerns on possible amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. That is why yesterday, June 21, Ukrinform hosted the round table “Constitutional process in Ukraine through the eyes of believers.” The event, organized by the Department of External Affairs in Ukraine to the Patriarchal Curia of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was attended by politicians, lawyers, academics and clergy.
“We understand the formation of the Constitution, and hereby of society, as God's revelation. This understanding is maintained for development and prosperity of the state. Government representatives came up with extensive proposals of changes in September last year. That is why the believers are concerned about possible reforms and want to point out again to some proposals, as well as administrative and judicial reforms,” Fr Olexa Petriv, head of Foreign Relations Department of the UGCC in Ukraine outlined the purpose.
It is important to clearly determine the circle of people who are to be members of the dialogue on constitutional amendments, Honored Lawyer of Ukraine Vasyl Kostytskyy believes. According to him, all changes must first be legitimate and even more - perceived by society. And it is impossible to imagine a community without provision of information by the authorities. "What is our God-likeness? It is not in the physical similarity. God gave us the moral law. The state is to be built on the same laws - the rule of moral imperative, which is present in the Torah, Bible and Koran,” said the professor. He proposed to develop a number of expert comments, including those from religious communities and public legal entities that become part of the thematic meetings during parliamentary hearings.
According to the proposals of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations of 10 July 2015, amendments to the articles of the Constitution had to address the following issues: the value of natural death (Art. 3, part 1) care for the religious needs of citizens (Article 12), the inherent the right to life (Article 27, part 1), to ensure complete secrecy of confession (Art. 31), failure to provide privileges or restrictions on ideological grounds (Article 24 part 1), the inviolability of conscience (Article 35), celebration of major festivals that involves labor repayment for these days by believers of different denominations (Article 45, part 1), the definition of marriage as a marital union between man and woman (Article 45, part 1), unrestricted rights of believers in the event of martial law or a state of emergency (Article 64, part 2).
It is important not to allow man to stand in the place of God, said Doctor of Moral Theology Fr. Boyko (UGCC). He called to talk more publicly about the believer’s basic values family and the value of human life: “The life of every person, without exception, should be protected from the beginning to the end. We adhere to the value of natural causes, which we are called by God. We would have to promote the development of palliative medicine instead of legalization of euthanasia as standardized suicide. Life is perceived as a gift and a blessing, and at the same time as responsibility. Important issues of legalizing abortion, same-sex partnerships or marriages are not natural. Today we see the spread of the culture of death. We do not have to allow man stand in the place of God.”
Courts and judges ever need help of society, as well as members of the Church, Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Petro Stetsyuk believes. Judicial reform, proposed by deputies concerns several aspects: the return of the Supreme Court of Ukraine the status of the highest authority, which it lost in 2010; restoring order in the issue of courts specialization; recertification of judges; introducing a mechanism of constitutional complaints that may be filed by any citizen; cancellation of the right of the Constitutional Court to interpret laws. Petro Stetsyuk believes that the Church in this case is an effective element of civil society that plays an important role in the legislative field.
After the events on Maidan, AUCCRO has acquired a deeper role in terms of life and justice, which affected the implementation of new laws on religious education, prison chaplaincy, MP and Professor Victor Yelenskyy notes. While internal social conflict is ongoing, we need dialogue not between religious communities and the most radical liberals. The official is convinced that “they cannot be treated as incorrigible” and the meetings of WCC with representatives of the factions who are the most sensitive about these issues should be initiated. The discussion can provide the arguments with which they can appeal to the Ukrainian society.
“The Constitution is a very sensitive matter, which is to be treated with care,” continued MP from Self-Reliance (Samopomich) Roman Semenuha. – “There is a provision in Article 157, which prohibits making any amendments during the state of emergency. ATO has become our compromise between martial law that provided an opportunity of getting support. It will be wise to divide decentralization and the special status of Donbas. These changes are not transferred to the Constitutional Court and we have the time for them to influence and change.”
We find ourselves in a situation where the public, not government officials, initiate hearings on reforms,” stresses the executive director of the Institute for Religious Freedom Maxym Vasin. He sees a large-scale public demand for changing the definition of marriage, as well as on other issues.
“The Constitution should reflect social realities, and not to enforce innovation. As it looks like an experiment on Ukrainian society,” the lawyer said. According to him, the dialogue really needs to develop and actively involve representatives of AUCCRO.
It should be noted it is not for the first time that such kind of public appeal has been voiced. Last time, on May 18, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations expressed in its appeal the readiness for dialogue and cooperation with the leaders and the entire panel of judges for Ukraine for the sake of becoming of justice in the state based on the rule of law.