In Yalta Representatives of Various Faiths Study the Art of Coexistence
The conference “The Art of the Coexistence of Christians: History Lessons and Challenges” brought together about thirty experts and practitioners from Ukraine, Belarus, Germany and Poland to discuss the practical dimension of Christian cooperation. The organizer of the meeting, which takes place October 4-6 in Yalta, is the international group Reconciliation in Europe.
The Ukrainian Reconciliation group operates as an integral part of the international group, and it includes representatives of four Ukrainian churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) in Ukraine, and the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine (GELCU).
"Our churches separately are rocks, and only Christ can create from them a wonderful mosaic, but we have to allow him to do this,” said Bishop Marian Buchek of the Kharkiv-Zaporizhia diocese of the RCC. “We still barely know each other and therefore should work on getting to know each other better so that there will be reconciliation and mutual love. As such we will set an example for our laity – they will know about our steps and will change their attitude.”
He also noted the special role of the media to help spread understanding among the laity and reflect the multiplying symbolic gestures of the hierarchy.
Bishop Uland Spahlinger of the GELCU compared the Christian art of communicating with the art of playing a musical instrument – to be a master in one or the other you need a lot of practice.
Participants discussed the history and present coexistence of Christians in Europe, considered issues of the Ukrainian religious landscape, looked for ways to have reconciliation between Christians in Ukraine and how to be a Christian today.
During the first day of the conference two interesting interfaith projects were proposed: a Ukrainian joint martyrology of the twentieth century and a permanent round table, which would write a textbook that examines the complex and painful issue of relations between Christians in Ukraine, and thus ecumenical achievements would become available to all.
Today, on the second day of the conference, participants will review the best practical examples of cooperation between Christians in Ukraine.
The Reconciliation group was established in 1974 on the initiative of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council to develop a project of reconciliation between neighboring Poland and Germany, whose relations were burdened by memories of World War II. In 1996 Ukraine and Belarus joined the initiative and thus emerged the project Reconciliation in Europe.