"For us, an independent Ukraine is synonymous with religious freedom," - Head of the UGCC to G7 ambassadors

"For us, an independent Ukraine is synonymous with religious freedom," - Head of the UGCC to G7 ambassadors - фото 1
On 11 June 2024, a meeting of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations with the ambassadors of the Group of Seven (G7) countries was held in Kyiv. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was represented by the Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

This was reported by the Information Department of the UGCC.

In his speech, His Beatitude thanked the ambassadors of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, the United States of America and the European Union for their solidarity and support of the Ukrainian people in times of war.

"In more than two years of the great war, we managed to win one very important battle together, in particular on the humanitarian front, for no one in Ukraine died of hunger or cold," said the Primate.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav dedicated the main part of his speech to the topic of religious freedom in Ukraine.

"An independent Ukrainian state is synonymous with religious freedom for all of us representatives of churches and religious organisations. We understand that if Russia takes over Ukraine, religious freedom will come to an end," said the Head of the UGCC, recalling that the history of the UGCC is a history of systematic liquidations by both the Russian imperial authorities and the Soviet communist regime.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that the Churches in Ukraine are an integral part of Ukrainian society. Being the core of the transformation of society from a post-Soviet to a democratic one, they educated citizens in the ability to be free people. "For us, Russia's victory would mean a return to the catacombs," said the hierarch.

The Patriarch also mentioned the state of religious freedom in the occupied territories. According to him, there is "not just the instrumentalisation of religious feelings, but the militarization of church life; religion is used as a weapon to destroy any connection with Ukrainianness."

"The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations stands guard over religious freedom in our relations with the state authorities, for where there is religious freedom, there are other types and forms of democracy," said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

The Head of the UGCC expressed his belief that today the Ukrainian state has the right and duty to do everything possible to prevent the aggressor state from using the Church and religion as an instrument of aggression against Ukrainians. "We know that today the parliament is preparing a bill to limit (at the legislative level) the ability of Russia to influence and manipulate the religious environment of Ukraine," he said.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav stressed that although the Moscow Patriarchate calls it a "ban" on its Patriarchate, the bill defends four principles "that will continue to guarantee religious freedom in Ukraine." The first of these is the partnership between churches and state authorities. The second is the principle of non-interference of the state in church affairs and vice versa. The third is the principle of equality of all churches. The fourth is the state's right and obligation, even in the religious sphere, to protect state interests, including security. The Primate noted that these principles apply equally to all churches and religious organisations.

In conclusion, the Head of the UGCC added that Ukrainian Churches pray for the end of the war and a just peace in Ukraine. He also expressed his support for the Peace Summit to be held soon in Switzerland, as it will focus on the peace formula to end the war in Ukraine and prevent World War III.