About ESD

Ecumenical School for Dialogue in Lviv 2020

"Ukraine at crossroad between West and East:

geopolitical, social and religious dimensions"



Ukraine is often presented in the international media as a place with various conflicts and as a cause of misunderstandings between the West and Russia. The war in Donbass contributed heavily to the consolidation of such an image. ESD proposes a complex and multifaceted examination of the Ukrainian case in its geopolitical and cultural context.

The ESD will focus both on the current domestic and international situations around Ukraine, as well as the political, historical and social background, with particular attention given towards the religious and ecumenical aspects.

Historically, Ukraine was both a contested space, belonging to the spheres of influence of different neighbour states, such as Russia, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, as a shared space, in which the Orthodox lived alongside Greek and Roman Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Armenians. This contested and shared condition was marked not only political, ethnic and religious conflicts, but also by instances of exchange of ideas and respect of diversity. Many prominent figures and initiatives build up environments of peace and acceptance, thus showing us that history is not the definite verdict but a new chance to understand and forgive, and to go forward together.

In its very recent history, both cooperation and conflict have articulated themselves in radically new ways.

The Maidan Revolution was a unique explosion of multi-ethnic and multi-religious cooperation, as well as development of the civil society in Ukraine. It was a powerful movement of solidarity, peaceful opposition towards corruption, and resistance to the injustice caused by the political powers. This movement was supported and influenced by the Ukrainian Churches. Maidan became a new ecumenical place for meeting and dialogue between the representatives of the different Christian traditions and other religions, and, at the same time, a platform of dialogue and fruitful cooperation between Church and society.

On the other hand, Maidan and the subsequent Russian military activity in Crimea and Donbass, signed a moment of war that was at a scale, Ukraine has not experienced since the Second World War. During this conflict, the churches cooperated with Ukrainian civil society by providing a chaplaincy ministry and by supporting initiatives of peace-making. Christians were faced with a new challenge: How to harmonise the legitimate defence of the country against aggression and separatism, and at the same time to remain a genuine voice of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Can Oriental theology, reaching towards its spiritual and liturgical heritage, elaborate some guidelines for ecumenism and peacebuilding?

Ideological conflict with Russia had some profound consequences for the Orthodoxy worldwide. In 2018 a new Orthodox Church of Ukraine was created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, to which Moscow has reacted by breaking communication with some Greek speaking churches, and withdrawing from the ecumenical dialogue. This process uncovered the hidden and unresolved difficulties in the Orthodox Churches, at the same time it offered a chance to find solutions and to start dialogue not only inside Orthodoxy but with the other denominations as well. Eastern Christianity, represented in Ukraine by both Orthodoxy and by Byzantine Catholicism, together with the Western Christianity (Roman Catholics and Protestants) create in Ukraine the unique possibility to be the laboratory of ecumenism and to elaborate new ecumenical proposals valid for the centres of world Christianity, such as Rome, Constantinople and Moscow.

The issue of communication and its meaning for the interpersonal and intercommunity relations will be raised through lectures by distinguished professors and prominent speakers from the Ukrainian Catholic University and beyond, excursions, master-classes and informal conversations. Through knowledge and experience gained in the school, the students and young researches will broaden their expertise, get to know more about Eastern Europe, its political, social and religious life, and at the same time will better understand the processes taking place at an international scale. ESD will show, by looking at the Ukrainian case how shared and contested values have significance for the states and societies, and how dialogue, openness and sacrifice facilitate development, while, exclusiveness and aggression lead to the conflicts and destruction.

Lviv is a particularly significant place to host ESD. Thanks to its geographic position at the crossroads of nations, cultures and religions, the city has had a robust history cultivated atmosphere of dialogue.

Accommodation in Lviv

Students during their stay in Lviv will live in Hotel “Patriarch” which is five minutes walking to Theology and Philosophy Faculty UCU