Reconciliation between Churches is a reliable ground for peace between Russia, Ukraine and the EU
Representatives of various Churches, philosophers, theologians, religious scholars, journalists, public figures of Ukraine, Russia and the EU assembled in Kyiv to seek the church peace between Ukraine and Russia. The seminar, which took place on October 2-3, 2018, was entitled Truth, Justice and Reconciliation between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.
This is the second meeting of the commission which maintains an international peacekeeping dialogue, Orthodoxy in Ukraine reports.
The discussion took place at the Institute of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Open Orthodox University of St Sophia the Holy Wisdom with the participation of colleagues from Bernardine College, St. Clement Center, “Memorial” Society, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukrainian Catholic University, with the support of the East Cause and the OSCE.
Participants of the seminar discussed the Churches, War and Peace and conflicts between churches in Russia and Ukraine, including in the context of their relationship with Rome and Constantinople.
As a result of the two-day work, the participants published a final text which was publicly read on October 5 during a meeting of the Ukrainian Christian Academic Society within the framework of the 11th Ecumenical Social Week in Lviv.
The statement says, inter alia:
“We have to state with regret that the Russian Orthodox Church fully shares responsibility for the formation of the ideology of confrontation and the reluctance to accept sovereign Ukrainian statehood and the Ukrainian nation.
However, in a situation where official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, both in Russia and in Ukraine, are unwilling to maintain equitable dialog with the Ukrainian side, this responsibility is assumed by Christians as faithful Churches of Christ and representatives of civil society.
In discussing the complex and controversial facts of the history of our Churches, we agreed on the following points:
1. The provision of canonical autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is a natural outcome of its development during a thousand years. Such a decision in the present situation is dictated by the care for the church unity of Orthodox Ukraine. This will enable the creative development of the Kyivan tradition of Christian openness, diversity and true pastoral service to its people.
However, the believers who are unwilling to join an independent Local Church should be guaranteed the right to freely choose their canonical jurisdiction.
We also believe that the emergence of the Local Church of Ukraine will have a profound effect on the Russian Orthodox Church, will create the conditions for the rethinking iof its history, getting rid of imperial ideology and the future of inter-Orthodox dialogue in Ukraine and in the world.
2. The path to fullness of the unity of the Ukrainian Church and constructive relations between the Churches will not end with the provision of the Tomos to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The dialogue between the centers of influence of the Christian world - Rome, Constantinople and Moscow - should be continued, and the latter, in turn, should consider Kyiv not as a disputed subject, but as an equal participant in relations, and treat Ukraine not as a territory of war, but as a space of dialogue and constructive cooperation.
3. Different stages of the history of the Churches of the Kyivan tradition require a new reflection to overcome the old wounds and to find answers to the challenges of our time.
Unfortunately, neither the Russian Orthodox Church nor the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) has until now recognized its complicity in the tragic events of the 20th century with the prohibition and attempts to liquidate the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, as well as in other crimes of the atheistic totalitarian Soviet regime against freedom of conscience and human dignity.
We hope to hear from the Local Church of Ukraine that wants to get rid of the shackles of the past, the words “forgive and ask for forgiveness” concerning the sister Churches in Ukraine and abroad. We are convinced that sincere repentance and forgiveness should replace the existing official rhetoric of the Moscow Patriarchate which fails to notice the obvious inconsistency of its position on the gospel and historical truth.
In order for the peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communion of the Churches to become a reality, together, rejecting ideological myths, in a Christian way and based on scientific objectivity, we should understand the intricacies of the history of relations between churches, States and peoples. An important example on this path can be the experience of reconciliation between Churches and peoples of France and Germany, Germany and Poland.
We are convinced that reconciliation between the Churches is a reliable ground for peace between Russia, Ukraine and all peoples of Europe.”