“Religious peace is the cornerstone of Ukraine’s security,” Head of the UGCC at a meeting with the ecumenical delegation of the CEC

April 11, 2024, 21:15 25

On April 10, 2024, the Father and Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, hosted at the Patriarchal Center in Kyiv an ecumenical delegation of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), which, in solidarity with the Ukrainian Churches and people, came to Ukraine to strengthen relations and dialogue for peace.

“Religious peace is the cornerstone of Ukraine’s security,” Head of the UGCC at a meeting with the ecumenical delegation of the CEC

“We are not here to make any political statements, but to show you that you are not abandoned or forgotten. We are with you, we are here for you,” said Orthodox Archbishop Nikitos of Thyateira and Britain, President of the CEC, who led the delegation.

“People around the world,” he added, “need to hear the message: Ukraine is not part of the Russian world. We need to know these things like the back of their hand: Ukraine must be independent, and it is not part of Russia, because the Soviet Union no longer exists, nor does the Russian Empire with its dynasties, dominions and possessions. God gave us all the freedom of choice and the spirit of independence.”

His Beatitude Sviatoslav thanked the representatives of the Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican Churches for their visit to Ukraine and care for Ukrainian refugees in European countries: “Thank you for your pastoral wisdom and openness that our people have received, in particular in the UK, Germany, Finland and other Scandinavian countries.” The Primate added in order to adequately respond to the needs of Ukrainian migrants, it is important to foster a dialogue between the CEC and Ukrainian Churches.

Touching upon the topic of interfaith dialogue in general and in Ukraine in particular, His Beatitude Sviatoslav presented to the delegation the Ecumenical Concept of the UGCC, the main idea of which is to implement at the local level the agreements reached at the Ecumenical level. “Interreligious and interfaith dialogue is among our theological and pastoral priorities,” the Patriarch emphasized.

One of the central topics of the meeting was peacebuilding.

“Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the revival of religion in Ukraine, we realized that freedom of religion and religious peace are the cornerstone of Ukraine’s security. It is a cornerstone for the future not only of Central and Western Europe, but also of Eastern Europe,” said the Head of the UGCC.

Father Ihor Shaban, chairman of the UGCC Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations, spoke extensively about the UGCC’s cooperation with other churches and religions to build peace in Ukraine. The priest mentioned the strategy “Ukraine is our common home,” which was developed by an interreligious group and approved by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations in 2017.

Archbishop Nikitos spoke about the CEC’s Pathways to Peace program, which coordinates the response of European churches to the war in Ukraine. The program facilitates cooperation between church leaders, intellectuals and scholars in preparation for peace in Ukraine, and engages in dialogue with European institutions, addressing critical political issues and advocating for the protection of destroyed religious sites in Ukraine.

The parties also discussed the topic of Christian identity today as an urgent challenge for all churches.

The UGCC Department for Information

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