Member of the European Parliament and AUCCRO discuss the role of religion in society
The conferencethemed “The Role of Religion in European Integration - in the Perspective of Ukraine and the European Union” was held in Kyiv with the participation of members of the European Parliament and members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.
The discussion took place on September 18-19 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, according to the Institute of Religious Freedom.
Foreign guests represented the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. Their visit to Kyiv became the answer to the Dialogue Initiative of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, whose delegation visited the European institutions in Strasbourg in May this year.
The President of Ukraine sent a congratulatory message to the conference, read out by Rostislav Pavlenko, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration. Also, the greetings were conveyed by First Deputy Minister of Culture of Ukraine Svitlana Fomenko, co-chairman of the Committee of the Parliamentary Association of Ukraine-EU MEP Dariusz Rosati. On behalf of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, Sheikh Ahmed Tamim, chair of the religious Administrarion of Muslims of Ukraine, greeted those present.
Taking part in the discussion were also Ukrainian MPs Mykola Knyazytskyy, Pavel Ungurian, Ivan Krulko, Oleg Berezyuk, Victor Yelenskyy, NGOs experts - Head of the Representative Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Gabriele Baumann and the chairman of the Board of the Institute of Religious Freedom Alexander Zayets, as well as the Secretary General of the Conference of European Churches Heikki Huttenen and Secretary-General of the Commission of the Catholic Bishops of the European Community (COMECE) Oliver Rockywillon.
The participants discussed the essence of European values and fundamental principles, the role of religion in public life, the spiritual and social service of Ukrainian churches for IDPs, the importance of securing freedom of religion and expression in the process of combating discrimination, the importance of protecting family and marriage as the basis. society, etc.
“We are interested in cooperation with the European Parliament in order to bring spiritual rebirth to the countries of Europe,” said Patriarch Filaret, head of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate.
Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Patriarch Svyatoslav Shevchuk, noted that religion is not a private matter, and faith cannot be limited to purely private use, as was done in the USSR. According to him, churches play an important role in building democratic and European Ukraine.
“Civil society, of which churches are integral part, is the initiator and leader of many changes in Ukraine. Corruption is a sin against the public good, so the churches are actively pursuing its eradication,” said the HIgher Archbishop of the UGCC.
Jan Olbricht, co-chairman of the Working Group on Intercultural Relations and Interreligious Dialogue of the EPP in the European Parliament, noted the unique role of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which, according to the level of dialogue and cooperation between denominations, has no analogues in Europe.
“Freedom of religion is not one and the same thing as freedom from religion. We are aware of the fact that churches play an important role in the development of civil society, in overcoming many social problems and in building the statehood. We, the Christian democrats, always emphasize our opponents in the European Parliament on the importance of the comprehensive assurance of freedom of religion and the observance of moral aspects in the lawmaking process. We hold ongoing discussions on many aspects related to public expression of faith, family policy, and freedom of expression,” said Mr. Olbricht.
He frankly shared his observations on the debate in the European Parliament on the role of religion in society. In particular, according to him, the attitude towards the problems of LGBT, gender ideology, abortion, euthanasia is not unambiguous, and initiatives in this area often have extremes, encroaching upon freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. That is why both Ukraine and the active members of the EU should continue to work to formulate a balanced policy that reflects both commitment to religious freedom and could respond to the challenges of our time.
“The values should be studied at school. It is important to just explain to young people the practical pragmatic benefits of respecting Christian values in everyday life,” said Oleg Berezyuk, Leader of Samopomich Parliamentary Faction.
MP of Ukraine Pavlo Unguryan reminded about the prosecution of clergy in some EU countries for criticizing homosexual relations proceeding from the Scriptures. He emphasizes that this practice is unacceptable, since it violates the fundamental human right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
At the same time, parliamentarian Viktor Yelenskyy proposed to the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches to expand its international influence and create its own representatives.
At the same time, parliamentarian Viktor Yelenskyy offered the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches to expand its international influence and create its own representation in European structures.
As it was reported, in May 2017, the delegation of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations visited Strasbourg and held a series of high-level meetings with the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.