UGCC Bishops and the Bavarian State Minister discussed Ukrainian refugee integration

UGCC Bishops and the Bavarian State Minister discussed Ukrainian refugee integration - фото 1
On May 24, 2024, a meeting took place at the State Chancellery of the Bavarian State Government in Munich between members of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC) and the Bavarian State Minister for European and International Affairs, Erik Beisswenger.

The main topic of discussion was the integration of Ukrainian refugees in Germany and the need for continued support for Ukraine, reports the UGCC Information Department.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the head of the UGCC, expressed gratitude to Mr. Beisswenger for Bavaria's assistance to Ukraine, especially at the beginning of the full-scale war, and for the hospitality extended to Ukrainian refugees. He noted that Bavaria has welcomed over 160,000 Ukrainians, making it a leader among German states, with over 70% of them finding shelter in German families.

However, the presence of such a large number of Ukrainians in Germany presents new challenges that need to be addressed jointly. One of these challenges is the need for employment for the refugees.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that in the matter of integrating Ukrainians into foreign societies, the Church adheres to the principle of "integration—yes, assimilation—no."

"It is clear that the longer the war goes on, the more Ukrainians will remain here. As a Church, we encourage them to integrate into German society, learn the language, and work. We ask them not to be a burden on your state but to contribute to its development. At the same time, we do not want Ukrainians to assimilate," said the UGCC leader.

Mr. Beisswenger agreed that the best way to integrate is through employment. However, currently, only 20% of Ukrainian refugees in Germany have started working. This is largely because most of the refugees are young women with children.

The UGCC bishops believe that promoting successful examples of integration can increase this percentage. Conversely, spreading negative stories, especially in the media, will only hinder this process.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav urged the State Minister to develop communication between the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, the Ukrainian community, and the Bavarian government to understand each other better and collaborate more closely.

"Our Church is ready for such systematic and regular communication," declared the UGCC leader.

In light of the ongoing Russian aggression and the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the bishops asked the minister to continue assisting Ukraine at both the regional and national levels.

"We are aware of Bavaria's role at the national level. Therefore, it is crucial that you continue to send strong signals of support for all important decisions for Ukraine made in Berlin," emphasized the UGCC head.

During the meeting, the parties also discussed the preparation for the Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15-16, 2024, the 30th anniversary of the Budapest Memorandum, and the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine for Europe and the world.

The bishops of the Permanent Synod of the UGCC presented the State Minister with an icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, painted on a board from an ammunition box. This gift symbolizes Ukraine's faith and resilience, and hope for a just peace that will triumph over war. The State Minister presented the bishops with a statue of a lion bearing the Bavarian coat of arms, symbolizing Bavaria's support for Ukraine and the desire to establish a just peace.