Patriarch of UGCC: Granting Privileges to One Particular Church by State Is Leads to Destruction of That Church
In his address at the roundtable "The Dialogue Between the Government and Denominations in the Context of the European System of Values," held on December 20 in Kyiv by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, and Institute of Religious Freedom, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church raised the question of state-church relations. He stressed the need of their strict regulation in the current Ukrainian reality. Patriarch Lubomyr also stressed that giving special privileges by the state to one particular church is a big "sin."
The patriarch stressed that the Ukrainian society is multidenominational and neglect of equality of different denominations is "the biggest sin against peace and agreement." At the same time, Patriarch Lubomyr noted that the privileged position, first of all, harms the church itself and is "the direct way to its destruction."
"For after they are granted the privileged position with the assistance of the state power, such religious structures lose their spiritual freedom with respect to the state, begin to serve it, and this is something very dangerous for church life as it contradicts its essence," explained the head of UGCC.
According to Patriarch Lubomyr, legislative questions are key for normalizing church-state relations in Ukraine. He stressed the necessity of the Supreme Council adopting a concept of bilateral relations developed by representatives of the churches and the state. "We are convinced that without an approved concept, laws will not be adopted that would reasonably and practically regulate relations," stressed Patriarch Lubomyr.
According to him, if the bills which are to regulate state-church relations are not based on the concept developed by representatives of the church, the adoption of these laws "can become a plaything of political forces and tastes and a temporary and opportune solution to the extremely important rights of believing citizens."
The head of UGCC described the necessary model of acceptable church-state relations "in which the state and church are structurally separated from each other but serve the same nation and act as fully legitimate partners, respect the laws and rights of each other and leave to each other full freedom of actions." The patriarch stressed that we should remember that "freedom is not willfulness and the freedom of one ends where the freedom of the other begins."