UOC reps participate in the meeting of AUCCRO and Minister of Culture
The activities of the Ministry of Culture should be aimed at uniting and reconciling the country, and not at opposing Ukrainians, representatives of the UOC emphasized.
On June 23, 2020, with the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, the UOC Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) of Boryspil and Brovary, accompanied by Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, took part in a meeting of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations with the Minister of Churches and Information Policy of Ukraine Alexander Tkachenko, as reported on the website of the UOC Department for External Church Relations.
The meeting was also attended by the head of the State Service for Ethnic Policy and Freedom of Conscience Elena Bogdan.
The meeting of the AUCCRO with officials whose competence includes the religious sphere was an exploratory one. Representatives of the Council spoke about their vision of the further development of church-state relations and voiced a number of the most pressing and problematic issues.
The UOC Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony, congratulated Alexander Tkachenko and Elena Bogdan on their appointment, expressing the hope that during their tenure “in the religious sphere of the country, conflicts will be removed and mistakes (made by their predecessors) corrected”. He emphasized that it is necessary to work together on reconciliation and unification of Ukrainian society.
“We all need to work towards unification and reconciliation within our society,” said the hierarch. “None of us is an enemy for Ukraine, and none of us need to be artificially made an enemy for our Motherland either by confessional affiliation or by the language of communication and other differences. We are all Ukrainians. By the way, this is the thesis of President Vladimir Zelensky, which he has repeatedly voiced in his official speeches, starting with a speech during his inauguration a year ago. ”
Addressing the Minister of Culture, Bishop Anthony wished that his activities in this post “in such important and sensitive spheres of our state’s life as cultural, humanitarian, religious, informational ones, should be aimed at uniting and reconciling the country, and not at opposing some Ukrainians to others, which, unfortunately, the previous government was engaged in. In our opinion, this was not the way our country should develop. We must go the other way."
The UOC hierarch pointed out that numerous cases of illegal re-registration and seizure of parishes of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, committed mainly in the western and central regions of the country, do not contribute to the reconciliation of society. He also noted numerous obstacles to the registration of statutes of UOC religious communities and the blocking of registration by the Ministry of Culture. Bishop Anthony recalled that for 5 years, contrary to a court decision, the ministry has not registered 12 statutes submitted by the Kyiv Metropolis of the UOC.
“Especially this unifying principle is directly contradicted by illegal requirements regarding the change of own name by our Church, by which someone wants to make the enemies of their own country millions of citizens who are believers of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church. These are all mistakes, not to say deliberate actions of the previous government that need to be corrected,” he said.
On behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Anthony declared his readiness to help and assist the state in the search for peace in the East of Ukraine.
“We are ready to promote dialogue on the return of the Donbass because our clergy who are present there have survived and continue to experience all the horrors of war with the local population,” said the UOC hierarch. “We understand that in this matter there is a lot of politics and even geopolitics. We do not intend to take part in certain political processes, but if the state at some moment feels that the time has come to begin real reconciliation, then the Church could join this charitable cause and could put a shoulder to our state. All that we can do for peace will be done. After all, this is one of the missions of the Church – to reconcile people. ”
At the end of the speeches of the representatives of the AUCCRO, the Minister of Culture answered the questions raised and stated the need to increase the social role of the Churches. Stressing the importance of communication and dialogue, Alexander Tkachenko thanked the Churches for the willingness to provide assistance in finding a solution to the conflict in the east of Ukraine.
Following the meeting, religious leaders and newly appointed civil servants agreed to cooperate in the formation and implementation of state religious policy.
As reported earlier, the vicar of the Kyiv Metropolis, Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) Baryshevska took part in the meeting of the AUCCRO and the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal.