UOC Representatives participate in meeting with G-7 Ambassadors

On February 6, 2018, a meeting between representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations (AUCCRO) and the Ambassadors and representatives of G7 embassies was held at the Metropolitan’s Residence at the National Sanctuary of “Sofia of Kyiv”. Among the high-ranking leaders of the foreign diplomatic missions were: Canadian Ambassador Roman Waschuk, Ambassador of Japan Shigeki Sumi, Ambassador of the United Kingdom Judith  Mary Gough, US Ambassador Marie Jovanovich, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli, German Ambassador Dr.Ernst Reichel, Ambassador of Italy Davida La Cecilia and the Deputy head of the Diplomatic mission of France to Ukraine, Christophe Le Rigoleur.

With the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC DECR) Archpriest Mykolay Danylevych and DECR staff member Archpriest Vitaliy Polishchuk took part in the meeting.

Discussed at the meeting were issues of freedom of religion and state-confessional relations in the sphere of international affairs. Also discussed was the participation of the religious community of Ukraine in the process of reform and overcoming corruption in our country.

In particular, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine Hugues Mingarelli underlined the importance of the role of Churches and religious organisations in reintegrating the occupied territories. “We are determined to cooperate with you in those areas that are extremely necessary for the reform process in Ukraine. You can count on our support,” – he reassured the Ukrainian religious figures.

In his turn, the head of the Kyiv-Zhytomyr diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, His Grace Bishop Vitaliy Kryvytskyi noted the growth of tension in Ukrainian society and stated that in such an atmosphere it was impossible to talk about successful reforms. In the opinion of the bishop, today it is necessary to look for ways to reduce turbulence in society.

Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine Roman Waschuk noted that one of the tasks of modern diplomacy was to actively support the process of national reconciliation and dialogue and the need to build bridges between people. “Churches are the largest representatives of civil society with whom we need to cooperate and understand better,” – the Canadian diplomat emphasized.

Continuing on with this theme in his address, Archpriest Mykolay Danylevych noted that such tasks belong to the competence of the Church. Today, only religious structures in general and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in particular, being the largest religious community in the country, have preserved the opportunity for national dialogue. At this historic moment, it is extremely important to build bridges, not to destroy them. Such dialogicity by the Church is demonstrated and confirmed by the exchange of prisoners, which took place at the end of last year with the active participation of the UOC.

In addition to this, the UOC DECR representative stated: “We are concerned with the rise of radicalism in the religious sphere of our country. During the past few days in Kyiv, radicals uprooted the memorial cross that used to stand on the site of the church that had been destroyed by the Bolsheviks. While in Lviv, radicals set fire to a UOC Church.“In the opinion of the priest, certain forces stand behind these events, which are trying to use the church factor in the political struggle. There is also reason to believe that with the help of information scandals, the regularity of which has become particularly apparent since the beginning of 2018, there is an attempt to destroy this bridge for dialogue and to compromise the Church.

Speaking to the Ambassadors of the G-7, Archpriest Mykolay Danylevych asked that they convey these concerns and views of the situation to the various capitals of the countries that they represent and stressed that any reforms would succeed only when peace and stability dominated society.

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