“When clergymen do not stand aside the problems of society and the state, it deserves great respect,” Governor of Mykolayiv Vadym Merikov
The issues of social service in circumstances of military aggression and prospects of cooperation with the authorities were discussed by the spiritual leaders and representatives of major Christian denominations at a meeting on April 3 with the leadership of Mykolayiv region, RISU journalist Tetiana Dlinna reports.
Head of Mykolaiv RSA Vadyim Merikov paid special attention in his speech to the problems of military servicemen, mobilized, demobilized and displaced persons from the East. The governor said that in the course of the ATO Mykolayiv region 86 residents were killed and 500 wounded. Now the number of mobilized persons equals more than 10 thousand people. In the near future about 2 thousand demobilized will return to their homes. One third of them, both mobilized and demobilized, are jobless. In Mykolaiv region around 8 thousand IDPs found refuge.
To solve these problems the RSA are implementing a number of programs aimed at social protection and support for children and families of the victims with participation of Regional Council. It was additionally planned to allocate from the budget about USD 2 million for treatment, psychological and social rehabilitation of demobilized persons.
The governor also noted that now the defendants not only need the support of the population, but simple human communication. “They come to the churches, get involved in socio-political activities and should to feel respect and support of the entire society.”
In addition, the authorities and society as a whole must work together to overcome existing anti-Ukrainian sentiment. Vadym Merikov said: “Today it is very important to consolidate the whole society – for the sake of peace in the country and in our region. Everyone prays for peace in Ukraine. When we are united by one thought, one idea, we are strong and only then we can achieve results. No matter what language we speak, to which political party we belong, what temples or churches we go.”
Also the RSA head noted the contribution of Christian religious organizations in the preservation of peace in the region and Ukraine. “Many priests, representatives of the Church go to eastern Ukraine, meet with military personnel and provide spiritual and humanitarian assistance. When the priests do not stand aloof from the problems of society and the state, it deserves respect.”
Thereafter the spiritual shepherds spoke about social service of the religious organizations and expressed their vision of social problems and shared views on further cooperation with the authorities.
Bishop Aleksiy (Shpakov), ruling hierarch of Voznesensk diocese of the UOC (MP), told about the assistance to ATO soldiers and IDPs. The clergymen paid particular attention to rehabilitation of refugees. Bishop said that the perfect legal framework as such will not save our society and state. People are to be taught to build the right relationships, guided by the law of God, a relationship based on mutual respect and tolerance.
Acts of vandalism against the roadside memorial crosses, misconceptions of a part of youth regarding their social and military duties, multiple vices (prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism) and others testify to this. Therefore, the diocese is working on the development of spiritual and moral education of young people and expects to receive government support and other Christian religious organizations on this issue.
“Both we, spiritual leaders, and you, government officials, have a great responsibility – rescue of our country and our people,” the bishop concluded his speech.
Archimandrite Varnaba (Vasyl Hladun), governor of the Monastery of the Holy and Equal-to-0the-Apostles Constantine and Helena, Mykolayiv Diocese of the UOC (MP), said: “Regardless of denomination all Christians can not remain indifferent to the suffering neighbor.” The believers of Mykolayiv diocese are productively working in social service. They are raisning funds, collect food, medical supplies for the needs of immigrants, eastern civilians, wounded soldiers. Already more than UAH 200 thousand have neen collected that will soon be handed over to the needy.
Archpriest Ivan Didukh, dean of Mykolayiv deanery of Tauride diocese of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church said that helping soldiers is the duty of every priest and every Christian. This is not negotiable. There is another painful problem: deteriorated social status of people in the country.
“There may may be a social explosion. This is the government that shall think about it in the first place, and we as priests, too. Present situation resembles the 90-ies. We must survive this period. The task of the Church is to teach people to appreciate what they have, appreciate peace and strongly support those on whom it depends.
I must warn all those people that provoke, look for new “Eden” for themselves, believe that someone would come and meet all their needs, that it is misleading. It is in this sense State and Church should have a common position and communicate. But first the authorities should explain to us the logic of their actions, make it clear what will happen to society and the country tomorrow,” said the priest of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
Father Olexandr Repin, rector of the church of St. Joseph in Mykolayiv, Mykolayiv deanery of Odessa and Simferopol Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, expressed his dream of a common Christian prayer for peace in Ukraine in Mykolayiv. “We need to come together at the Cross, follow the Way of the Cross, walk the city streets, actually, to show our residents that we are not closed in our temples, we have a common position, seek peace.”
The Catholic parish has experience of interfaith dialogue. Father Alexander stressed that today the whole world is praying for Ukraine. In Poland, a specific number of days is devoted to prayer for our country. Christians have to get united for a joint payer and every priest must bring this idea across to his parishioners.
Pastor Oleg Shcherbakov, head of the regional association of independent Christian churches, pastor Mykola Aleksyeyev, head of the association of independent (Full Evangelical) Christian Churches “Bread of Life,” Archpriest Vasyl Mazuryk, rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit of Mykolayiv diocese UOC-KP, Archpriest Taras Pavlius, rector of St. Mary parish in Mykolayiv deanery of Odessa Exarchate of the UGCC dean and pastor of the South Conference SDA churches told about social service and participated in the discussion.
Following the meeting Mykolaiv Regional State Administration developed a concept of cooperation with Christian religious organizations. It will be discussed at the next meeting.