Between 28 February and 1 March 2012, Germany’s capital Berlin was hosting the 8th meeting within the framework of the so-called “Kyivan Dialogues”, a non-party, independent Ukrainian-German initiative, created back in 2005, right after the famous Orange Revolution in Ukraine, with the aim to help the Ukrainian citizens to widen their horizons vis-à-vis Europe and Ukraine’s role therein. This year’s topic was “Migration as a European Challenge on the Example of Ukraine” and it was attended by over 200 various German and Ukrainian religious, lay and political leaders. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was represented at the conference by Most Reverend Yosyf Milan, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archeparchy of Kyiv and Head of the Pastoral and Missionary Department of the UGCC as well as by Mr. Hryhoriy Seleshchuk, Head of the Church’s Migration Commission and Rev. Ihor Shaban, Head of the Ecumenical Commission of the UGCC. This year, the forum’s participants were discussing various issues of the Ukrainian migration. One of the key conclusions reached at the conference was a dire need of the fundamentally new understanding of the political systems and societies, centered on the human person, in order to be effective in solving current migration problems.
Certainly we all want to believe that every country on our planet strives to provide for its citizens an opportunity to lead the most comfortable life despite the challenges that every state might face: some more and some less. If you take Ukraine, for instance, it seems that ca. 5 million Ukrainians are living abroad as immigrants. However, it is not only that the citizens of Ukraine leave their own country for various purposes, mainly for work, but there are a couple of millions of people, who immigrated to Ukraine for different reasons since Ukraine regained its independence back in 1991. The fact is that these migration processes pose challenges not only to the Ukrainian Government but also to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, whose ca. 1 million faithful are among those, who find their presence outside of their motherland. Since the members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which exists virtually on every continent, are mostly people, who are either ethnic Ukrainians or have a full or partial Ukrainian background (hence its name), the main migration challenge of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine is basically to provide a proper spiritual care for its emigrants, especially in those regions of the world, where there are no set UGCC structures, and not so much for the foreign immigrants, although the Church’s doors are always open to them.
We certainly can go on and on, asking questions as to why these global migration processes take place, which we have a full right to, however, given the Universal Church’s nature, does it indeed matter what causes them? Not really, for the Church, who is the Mystical Body of Christ Himself, transcends all physical boundaries. Hence, the question, which she asks, is not so much “why?” but “how?”.
Patriarch Sviatoslav on transfer of national shrines
Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) sent a letter to the Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn and Ukrainian deputies with a request to withdraw from consideration the Bill 9690 on Making Alterations to Certain Laws of Ukraine, regarding the transfer of objects of cultural heritage to religious organizations. Head of the UGCC considers unacceptable the transfer of national shrines, which belonged to the unified Kyivan Church, to only one denomination, namely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate. This way of response to the European recommendations regarding restitution of the Church property is a “distortion of the essence of restitution which envisages complex settlement of property problems to rectify the material harm done by the Godless regime”, reads the address. His Beatitude Sviatoslav warns that such steps represent “clear threat to the interdenominational peace” that has been established in the state in the recent years. In his opinion, the issue of the restitution of the Church property should be considered “fully, transparently, from all the viewpoints and without prejudice by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, representing 18 denominational trends and over 95% of Ukraine’s believers”.