Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom warns that the Ukrainian gov't is persecuting a particular group of Catholics
Canada’s ambassador for religious freedom is warning that the Ukrainian government is persecuting a particular group of Catholics as the political crises grows in the European country, the Globe and Mail informs.
Ambassador Andrew Bennett, who visited Kiev Saturday and Sunday, said he’s also upset that new laws placing limits on civil rights will disallow churches from joining protests against the government in Ukraine’s capital city.
Mr. Bennett said President Viktor Yanukovych’s attempted intimidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church could be the start of a wider crackdown on churches in Ukraine as the civil uprising continues.
“That’s certainly the concern,” he said, speaking to reporters via conference call Sunday. He said the analogy of this church as the “canary in a coal mine” is very apt.
The mass protests and clashes with police in downtown Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, were sparked last fall by Mr. Yanukovych’s decision to balk at closer ties with the European Union and instead align himself more closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Matters worsened when the government passed draconian laws limiting civil rights.
Mr. Bennett said Ukrainian churches are playing an important role in the Eastern European country during the conflict by encouraging dialogue between opposition leaders and the government and protesters.
“The churches in Ukraine have tremendous respect among the people and their legitimacy has been enhancedthrough all of this … so to have a law that restricts the role of the churches and actually violates their religious freedoms and their ability to pursue legitimate pastoral outreach to the people is completely unacceptable.”