Head of UGCC and US Ambassador discuss religious and political situation in Ukraine
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav, held a working meeting with the US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, during which the parties discussed the situation in the socio-political and religious life of Ukraine. The meeting was held at the initiative of Marie Yovanovich, the Department of Information of the UGCC reports.
The ambassador was interested in the state of inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue in Ukraine and the position of the UGCC. The Primate said that, according to the ecumenical concept of the UGCC, the Church is trying to be open and seek dialogue between all Churches and religious organizations in Ukraine.
“Obviously, we get different answers, but we try to cooperate with everyone. Both with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate, and the Protestant Churches which are members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations because we believe that the preservation of religious peace in Ukraine is a question of the common good of our state and, in particular, in this context it is an important element of the security of our state,” noted His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
The Head of the UGCC told the US diplomat about his contacts with Metropolitan Epifaniy. In particular, the fact that the Greek Catholics try to be open and work together for the good of Ukraine, but do not interfere with the interior Orthodox processes or other affairs relating to their life. That is, the UGCC is trying to cultivate good relations with all.
The parties also discussed the role of the Church in society, in particular in the context of the upcoming elections.
The Head of the Church told the Ambassador that a year ago, the UGCC proclaimed a year of prayers for fair and just elections in Ukraine. The clergy sent a separate message to the Ukrainian people and the faithful of the UGCC, which warned of the various dangers that weighed on our society at that time. In particular, the danger of cheap populism, the use of violence as an instrument of political struggle. The parties also agreed on the need to adopt a new electoral law so that Ukrainians would have more confidence in the state institutions to which they would elect new representatives. After all, we see that the level of people's confidence in state institutions is not high today.
According to the Primate, this year, the UGCC will continue implementing its principles. In particular, the Church's non-interference in the political process, in particular the prohibition of clergy to participate in campaigning for or against a particular candidate. “But on the other hand, we encourage our laity, honest Christians to be active in political life in order to uphold the Christian values of social and family life, defend the foundations of an independent free European type of Ukrainian state,” the Head of the UGCC noted.
The ambassador asked about pastoral plans of the UGCC for this year. His Beatitude Sviatoslav said that the UGCC will honor the figure of the blessed Omelyan Kovch this year, a symbol of the identity of the UGCC. “This is a priest, a patriot of the Ukrainian people, participant of the national liberation struggle ... But as he rescued the representatives of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, he was killed by the Nazis in a concentration camp. So this figure as such destroys all the myths against our Church that Russian propaganda is trying to inculcate. And, according to our belief, he is the true embodiment of a pastor. Therefore, our Church proclaimed Father Omelian as patron of the priests of our Church,” said the Primate.
This year, his name will be honored at the state level, along with such figures as the Blessed Klementiy Sheptytskyy, Blessed Josafat Hordashevskyy ... “In honor of these figures, we want to show how vital they are as examples of values and behaviors that are needed today in our country,” said UGCC Head.
Mrs. Ambassador thanked the UGCC for playing a very active but well-balanced role in social and public life. She also thanked for the fact that the UGCC is a promoter of ecumenism and its openness demonstrates true inter-church and inter-religious cooperation models. She also thanked for a clear public and Christian stance on political processes that involve Ukraine today.
The Head of the UGCC thanked Marie Yovanovitch for the meeting and for supporting true democracy and freedom of conscience in Ukraine today.