UGCC Head: “Today there is a crisis in state-church relations”

Wednesday, 16 January 2013, 18:06
The fact that the President approved the changes to the law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” forces the heads of churches to talk about a crisis in state-church relations. UGCC Primate made this statement during his interview with the newspaper The Day.

“There is conversation but no dialogue.  It does not happen no matter what position is offered by the  All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations  (AUCCRO) or what promises the president makes,” said UGCC Head.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav described the background prior to the approval of these changes since it emerged from the President – AUCCRO communication as well as from the paradigm of building state-church relations in the last 15 years, since AUCCRO began to exist.

He emphasizes that AUCCRO is trying to structure the state-church relations on a parity basis.  “In other words, we see ourselves as partners with the government structures, but in no way subservient to them,” said UGCC Primate.

“Without regard to our interactions and cooperation, Parliament on October 16th passed the law “On freedom of conscience,” ignoring the position of the churches.  On the following day there was a meeting with the president during which Viktor Fedorovych agreed to veto it, after listening to our positions.   However, this was not done.  This event has forced the heads of churches to talk about the crisis in state-church relations,” said UGCC Primate.  “Now it seems that the paradigm in church-state relations has been ruined.”

“We are not partners.  We do not understand our place and what role AUCCRO should play.  Then we were told that it is necessary in a tight timeframe to work on the next legal legislation so that it would be agreeable with the positions of the churches.  It is the same tactic as with the language law,” says UGCC Head. “They passed the law in a hurry, after which Viktor Fedorovych requests a new law, which would somehow balance out that which has already been done.  If fact, already half a year has passed, and there is no project of the law which was then talked about by the president…”

Simultaneously, UGCC Head and Father is convinced that for the Church relations with the government are very important.  The development of church-state relations is a necessity for the development of Ukrainian society and the building of a democratic state as such.  All Churches, especially Christian ones, see themselves as active members of a civil society.

“We are active in social services of the communities (work with limited income people, work with people physically and mentally challenged, orphans, street children, and so on…).  It is in this sphere that we need to cooperate with the government.  For example, one UGCC project is devoted to saving the Ukrainian village.  However, the Church cannot do everything and therefore we need civilized state-church relations…  However, we will continue to generate all sorts of ideas and proposals so that this dialogue can become fruitful and useful because I think that we all need it,” emphasized UGCC Head.

UGCC Department of Information


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