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European Commission For Church Reconciliation Visits Lviv

24.09.2002, 17:04
A working group of the commission “Reconciliation in Europe: Tasks of the Churches in Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus” visited the western Ukrainian Lviv region from 18 to 22 September 2002.

Bishop Klaus Wohlenweber, head of the Evangelical Church of Germany, Pastor Michael Mildenberg, chancellor of the Evangelical Church in Hanover, Germany, and Andrej Wojtowych, director of the Polish Ecumenical Council in Warsaw, and other members of the working group visited places of interreligious dispute in western Ukraine. The members of the commission met with representatives of the Lviv regional administration, Archbishop Auhustyn of Lviv and Halych of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) and bishops of the Ivano-Frankivsk and Drohobych eparchies of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). “This visit is part of a joint European project for reconciliation. We do face problems. However, if there is good will, they can be resolved. We are all Christians and need to stop fighting each other, because there are currently more important issues to take care of,” emphasized Bishop Wohlenweber, speaking about the goal of this mission. Pastor Mildenberg expressed his surprise that the majority of church buildings and places of worship are still owned by the state. According to him, the state bears responsibility for interreligious misunderstandings through its use of church buildings. He also stressed the clergy’s responsibility for either fueling or preventing conflicts. Vasyl Bilous, deputy head of the Committee on Religious Matters in the Lviv region, also commented on the situation in the region. “Problems exist not only regarding property relations between the UOC-MP and the UGCC, but also between Orthodox churches as well, especially when arguments over church buildings break out,” Bilous said. “Time will show whether the work of this commission will bring any positive results,” Bilous added.