Events Digest: First Half of August
In contrast to the end of July, which was clearly dominated by the topic of Orthodoxy due to the visit of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the first half of August, although not as rich in events and commentaries, saw several diverse events. Furthermore, many interesting and important topics were brought up that often go unnoticed when other news stories dominate.
Among the events that took place these two weeks it is worth noting the 15th International Conference Freedom of Religion and Democracy: Old and New Challenges, which was held on September 5-7 in Kyiv. The conference was not widely covered, but its importance is not in how much attention it had in the media but its resulting resolutions, discussions, and reflections. This was a respectable academic and practical forum in which close to 100 scholars took part, including many international experts. As part of the conference, a lot of practical work was done, exports brainstormed, and the Ukrainian and international situations regarding religious freedom and corresponding legislation were compared. Experts confirmed that in spite of the high ranking of Ukraine in religious freedom, the Ukrainian government is encroaching on democratic freedoms and engaging in favoritism toward certain denominations while neglecting the needs of others. The insight of Russian experts was especially valuable to Ukrainians who wish to understand the current tendencies of the Ukrainian government, which are starting to resemble those of Russia.
The investigation into the explosion in a church in Zaporizhia continues for the sacristan accused of the explosion says that he wrote his confession under moral and physical pressure of the inquest.
Part of the beginning of August was dedicated to analyzing the visit of Patriarch Kirill to Ukraine. For example, the monitoring portal Telekrytyky points out that during the visit the number of violations of informational journalism standards in the evening news broadcasts on national television channels grew. In particular, the number of instances of silencing important facts, events, and thoughts grew.
The start of the Muslim month of Ramadan brought Muslim themes, which are not often covered in Ukrainian religious news, to the headlines. It was the first time in many years that Ramadan began in August and not September. The Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Ukraine invited reciters of the Quran from Egypt. In addition, due to the continuing land disputes in Crimea, members of the Medjlis (the Crimean Tatar Parliament) did not take part in the council of the President of Ukraine on the development of Crimea.
UNESCO, at its 34th Committee of the World Heritage UNESCO session that took place in Brazil from July 25 to August 3, gave Ukraine a final warning regarding the Kyiv Cave Monastery and the national reserve of St. Sophia of Kyiv. Ukraine has until February 1, 2011, to fulfill the recommendations of UNESCO so that these sites do not end up on the “blacklist” of this organization. The main concerns of the experts are construction in the buffer zone and renovation that harms the authenticity of the historic buildings.
For the first time Lviv was the meeting place for Redemptorist Youth of the World. The 9th International Redemptorist Youth Congress gathered close to 500 participants from Redemptorist provinces in Ukraine, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Italy, Czech Republic, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, Austria, Belarus, and Canada.
The pastor of the Embassy of God Church Sunday Adelaja is accused of defrauding citizens of money. The accusation has been officially produced, the first suspects have been arrested, and some of the adherents of the pastor are threatening to commit suicide.
The March of Life was held in many cities of Ukraine. A delegation from Germany prayed and asked for forgiveness for the crimes committed by their ancestors during WWII. The biggest event took place in Kyiv, at Babyn Yar, where at the beginning of the war many thousands of people were shot, most of which where Jewish residents of Kyiv.
In Kyiv opened the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), the only such temple in the post-Soviet space. The temple will become a pilgrimage center for Mormons from countries of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe.
Prays for a good harvest and weather were not only symbolic August prayers for many Ukrainians. The heat wave which lasts already for several weeks and the resulting forest fires and serious threats to crops have prompted hierarchs of the Ukrainian churches to call their faithful to pray for rain.
The last several days were marked by a tragic event in religious journalism. During a business trip in Turkey, Alla Dmytryk, the editor-in-chief of the information portal “Religion in Ukraine,” tragically passed away. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to her family and friends, colleagues from the portal.