Seminar of the Ukrainian Christian Academic Society

Presentation of the Study by the Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group «Serving Communion: Re-thinking the Relationship between Primacy and Synodality»

September 10, 2021 15.00-18.00 (Kyiv time).

Working languages: Ukrainian and English with simultaneous translation.

Presentation of the Study by the Saint Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group «Serving Communion: Re-thinking the Relationship between Primacy and Synodality»

Members of the St. Irenaeus group

  • Johannes Oeldemann, Director of the Johann-Adam-Möhler-Institut, Paderborn (Germany).
  • Rev Cyril Hovorun, Professor at Sankt Ignatios College, Stockholm School of Theology (Sweden).


  • Pavlo Smytsnyuk, Director of the UCU Institute of Ecumenical Studies Lviv (Ukraine).
  • Sergii Bortnyk, Lecturer at the Kyiv Theological Academy, member of the UOC Department of External Church Relations Kyiv (Ukraine).


IES will hold an Online Ecumenical School for Dialogue on July 5-16, 2021

The Final Application Deadline is May 31, 2021.

Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University is organizing an Online Ecumenical School for Dialogue 2021 “Ukraine at the Crossroad between East and West: Religious, Social and Geopolitical Dimensions” for those interested in theology, philosophy, humanities, politics, history and reconciliation.

ESD will last for 13 days (three hours per day: 16:00-19:00 CET) and will consist of online lectures, discussions, seminars, video-presentations and virtual excursions.

ESD offers 4 ECTS credits for participation at the school’s online events and homework.

Working language – English!

Goals of the School:

- to study key political, social and religious processes occurring in Ukraine and throughout the region;

- to introduce various aspects of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine (geopolitical, ethnic, religious, ideological);

- to investigate the inter-denominational experience of the 2014 Maidan Revolution (The Revolution of Dignity) and its impact on the dialogue and cooperation within broader society;

- to study the ecumenical situation in Ukraine, marked by the challenges of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue;

- to study the implications of the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the reaction of the Russian Orthodox church to it, and the implications for the inter-Orthodox unity;

- to evaluate Eastern Christian contributions to the field of ecumenism and peacebuilding;

- to discuss creative proposals in order to deal with the situation of conflicts and wars, and cultivate an atmosphere of trust between the Churches, societies and states;

- to foster an understanding of Ukraine and its neighbours, in order to understand Europe better, by engaging with the insider perspectives.

More Information

Contacts: Rev. Roman Fihas, Coordinator

To enroll in ESD, please submit the Application Form

The First Application Deadline: April 25, 2021.

The First Notification of Admission: April 27, 2021.

The Final Application Deadline: May 31, 2021.

The Final Notification of Admission: June 5, 2021.

ESD 2021 is free this year due to the support of the Mainz Diocese (Germany).

Christmas Greetings 2020-21

United in joy – united in faith!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Is. 9.6

Let the grace of the newborn Messiah fills our hearts with joy and peace.

Wishing you Merry Christmas!

The team of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies.

International Forum 13th Ecumenical Social Week

"Hear the Cry of the Earth: Integral Ecology in Action" 7-10 October 2020, Lviv, Ukraine

Keynote speakers: Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prof. Jürgen Moltmann, Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis.

The annual Ecumenical Social Week (ESW) international forum addresses urgent social issues based on universal values ​​and the Church's social doctrine and, in this way, promotes ecumenical dialogue in the social sphere. It brings together the resources of the community, churches and religious organisations, government, the media, academics and educators, and social and youth organisations.

This year's forum is dedicated to the topic of integral ecology. The connection of spiritual, ethical, political, economic, and social approaches in solving environmental problems is the essence of integral ecology.

ESW seeks to involve experts in the discussion of environmental problems and to create a platform for the interdisciplinary exchange of experience and dialogue. We wish to establish communication between all agents of environmental change and, through their messages, to ‘hear the cry of the Earth’.

Organisers: Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv City Council, Lviv Regional Council, Lviv Polytechnic National University, UGCC Ecological Bureau, the public organisation “Center of Eco-Theology and Sustainable Development”, the “Clean City” initiative, and the Christian churches of Lviv.

To attend the English-speaking sessions online (via ZOOM), please register.

Registration deadline is October, 6.

If you have any questions -, visit our website

Program of the 13-th Ecumenical Social Week.


Easter Greetings 2020

Institute of Ecumenical Studies congratulates with the bright feast of Jesus Christ's Resurrection

The Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University sincerely congratulates all its friends with the bright feast of Jesus Christ's Resurrection.

Let the Easter light, that conquers any darkness, illuminate our life, overcome separation, and bring us joy of unity.

“We want to be an example of how people of different backgrounds can come together”: An Interview with Fr. Dr. Roman Fihas

Fr. Dr. Roman Fihas is a Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest and co-ordinator of the English-language Distance Learning Master’s Program in Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University. In late 2018 he discussed the activities and ethos of this vibrant university while showing the East-West Church Report around its campus in the western city of Lviv. The conversation took place in English.

It is striking how many worship services there are in churches in Lviv, and the significant number of young people attending. Is this a growing trend?

It started in 1991, when Ukraine obtained independence and the Greek Catholic Church was coming out from underground. There was a religious boom—people were witnessing that they were against the totalitarian regime, and so to be religious was popular. Almost everyone came to church! Right now, this boom is diminishing a little, but we still have a lot of people attending church. Compared with central or eastern Ukraine, the number is much higher. This is because we only had 50 years of the Communist regime here, while the central and eastern parts of Ukraine had 20 years more—one more generation.

So in Lviv, for example we have around 80 Greek Catholic churches. On Sundays in the big parishes they have a liturgy—which lasts between one and two hours—every two hours, starting from the morning until about six or seven in the evening. In the suburb of Sykhiv there is one parish dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God where eight or 10 priests minister. It has a catechetical school where around 1,500 pupils attend classes at least once a week. This church was built up from scratch. It is a very lively parish, offering assistance to those dependent on alcohol or drugs, general counseling services, and various programs for young people. Some parishes are more active, some less. Sometimes, of course, the older generation is more represented in church than the young. But usually people have a tradition of going to church.

Did you yourself grow up in a Christian family?

My parents are Christian but they were not so religious. They baptized my brother and me, but there were no Greek Catholic churches open for them to go to. Maybe once a year they attended some liturgy, but not often.

So you came to active faith after the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Yes. We started to attend liturgies in the 1990s when Ukraine had become independent and churches began to open. I then attended a Greek Catholic lyceum here in Lviv which had a very positive atmosphere—I had many friends and studied a lot of theological topics. This study of theology was like a revelation to me. It brought me to an understanding of my faith as more than just a custom. Afterwards I felt a calling to be a priest and I decided to go to seminary here. That study lasts seven years, and I graduated in 2004.

We now have around 200 seminarians in Lviv. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church also has three seminaries in the cities of Kyiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil. Greek Catholic monastic religious orders, such as the Basilians and Redemptorists, have their own seminaries as well.

I am a married priest—I have three children. We live in the Collegium building along with the students, here on campus. This is because we are trying to offer students a program of personal formation as well as study. They receive knowledge, but their personal formation and intercommunication are also important.

What is your teaching role here?

I work at the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, which was founded in 2004 by Fr. Iwan Dacko—who was a secretary to Patriarch and Cardinal Josyf Slipyj in Rome—together with Dr. Antoine Arjakovsky, an Orthodox professor from Paris. Ecumenism is a priority for our university. On the territory of Ukraine we have two Orthodox Churches, as well as two Catholic Churches—Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic. We have Protestants, also Jews, Muslims, and other religions. So dialogue is very important. We believe that if we want peace and to find one another, we must work towards this together.

We have a master’s program in Ecumenical Studies on campus and via distance learning, including in English. We see this as one way of spreading ecumenical awareness. We also see great potential for ecumenism in social issues.

By that, do you mean separate churches working together in different social spheres, rather than discussing ways to overcome doctrinal differences?

Yes, and in most cases this works much better than dialogue at a high level! For example, once a year we organize an ecumenical social week where we gather representatives of the different churches and business representatives from Lviv city and region. We discuss important issues that we need to influence or change. In 2018 we discussed youth—how young people find their place in the world, their challenges in following a calling to a particular profession, positive experiences that the Church has had in communicating with young people.

Is the Ukrainian Catholic University primarily intended for Greek Catholic students and theological study, or does it have a broader remit?

Everything started from theology, but we understood that we could not hide this treasure and keep it for ourselves. So the university is an open community anchored in this Christian background. We have students of IT and business analysis, journalism, history, social pedagogy, psychology, and other subjects, as well as theology.

Does the university belong to the state system or is it private?

Our university is a private university, although all our programs—from theology to IT—are accredited by the state. But we do not receive any finance from the state. All our funding comes from private donors around the world.

Does that mean that students either have to pay from their own funds or take on loans? Are the fees the same for every subject?

We would like the legal situation to change so that state educational funding goes not to institutions but to individual students, and so to wherever each student decides to study. In the meantime, students have to pay, but around one third of our students have scholarships—we have schemes that support students. Even those who do pay for their studies themselves pay only around 20 or 30 percent of what the university has to spend—we cannot make the fees very high, because otherwise people would be unable to come. However, the rate for IT is around three times higher than subjects such as history and theology, because those students will easily find a well-paying job after they graduate.

What is life like for students at the university?

We have around 2,000 students here. There is currently room for around 300 to live on campus in the Collegium building, alongside mentors such as myself. In this building there is also a chapel, and the Emmaus Center for people with special needs. There are places such as workshops for their own activities, but we are also able to meet with them over tea and help them with anything required due to their special needs. This is the spirituality of Jean Vanier, the French founder of L’Arche, who dedicated his life to living with such people and who recognized their special gifts. For example, they teach us transparency—what they want to say, they say without any masks. This is something very positive—we have only just started to learn how to interact with such people in Ukraine.

We also have a small convent; there are three nuns who live in the Collegium building. The students liaise with them in organizing different events.

You also have a splendid new library here in the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Center, opened in 2017.

Yes, it must be a big surprise to come here and to see all these buildings! This is probably the first library to be built in Ukraine in the past 25 years. It was built in order to attract young people to come and meet with books! It also hosts famous speakers and different cultural events. Anyone can join the library for 50 hryvnia [around $2] a year. The cafeteria and children’s room are also open to all.

How would you describe the ethos of the university?

Our founder and president, Borys Gudziak [as of June 2019 overseeing all Ukrainian Greek Catholics in the USA as Archeparch of Philadelphia] says that we build our identity on three Ss. In Ukrainian, they are svidchyty, sluzhyty, and spilkuvatysya.

Svidchyty is “witnessing,” above all the witness of our New Martyrs, who with their lives witnessed that it is possible to know truth and to stand for truth. It is also important for us to be witnesses to the truth in this 21st century.

Sluzhyty is “serving.” As Jesus came to serve us, so we will serve Him. If we want to see changes, we also have to be aware that we will have to put in a lot of service.

Spilkuvatysya means communication. In the USSR people did not trust one another, because your neighbor could go to the KGB and say bad things about you, and you could be imprisoned. Communication was ruined. But at this university we invite many different people to this campus to build up communication and trust between people. We want to be an example of how people of different backgrounds can come together to create a unique university.

So the university is not only for practicing Christians?

Yes. But being in a community which prays gives people the time and space to get a taste of the Christian faith. Sometimes working here seems like sowing grain. You do not know what the fruit will be in one, five or 10 years time. There are some who do not practice, and there are some cases when people come here without any religious background and who become Christians. It just depends.

What was your experience of Ukraine’s recent past—the pro-democracy Maidan demonstrations of 2013-14 in Kyiv?

What we experienced during those three months of Maidan was something very rare. There was sweetness, but also fear. We had no idea how it would all turn out. Many of the people at Maidan said they could not come back home, because the regime would know where to find them and they would be finished. So everyone knew that they had to press on. But the spirit of Maidan was not against somebody: it was for freedom, for change, and against corruption. There was also constant service. It was a cold winter, and people constantly asked those coming to Maidan if they needed something to eat and then brought food, or told them where they could find something to keep warm if they were cold. It was like the early Church, when everyone helped each other.

I understand one of the UCU staff was among those killed in the demonstrations.

Bohdan Solchanyk. He was a history lecturer at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, but he also taught here. He was killed in the final days of Maidan, aged just 28. It was a tragedy.

Do you think the determination for change is still strong?

During Maidan it seemed as if we were taking part in a sprint over a short distance, because we were running very fast. We thought we had reached the finish line, but then we realized that we needed to keep going forward. There was disappointment for about a year after Maidan, because we did not see immediate change. But then we understood that we were actually running a marathon. All those steps may look very easy, but time is needed.

We also understood that it is very important to follow this path and not to stop—to be faithful to the end. There is the problem of populism now—not only a Ukrainian problem!—and it is easy to blame somebody as guilty, or to say that you just have to change this or that and then we will have paradise! [Laughs] In Ukraine we are also in a bad economic situation because we lost seven percent of our territory, and the continuing war demands a lot of resources. But we have made progress in areas such as education and medicine; we have begun to live as an independent state.

Bohdan Solchanyk and others who died are an example telling us not to step back; we have to move forward. We have good examples and we have—not saints, but people who help us to continue our progress. We still have a lot of work to do. We just started to change our country.

The interview is republished with permission of the East-West Church Report

Celebrate Easter Date Together

A Call to Jointly Celebrate the Resurrection of Christ Together

Currently, Christians of the world celebrate the Great Holiday Easter on two different days, which is an evident marker of the divisions that divide the Christian denominations. On April 4, 2010, and April 24, 2011, Easter in the denominations’ calendars coincidentally fall on the same day.  People who signed this text call to Christians of all denominations to use this period to prepare to jointly celebrate the Easter holiday on April 8, 2012, on the day which corresponds to the rule and method for the calculation agreed upon by the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Churches in 1997. The benefit of this method of calculation, which was recognized by all, is that it actualizes the rule established by the First Ecumenical Nicea Council.



In the first centuries of the Christian era was a disagreement regarding the date of Easter. The problem was addressed at the Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, which established the rule according to which Easter was to be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This principle maintained a link between the Holy Scripture and Easter, since the council acknowledged that the celebration of the resurrection should not be a factor of division for Christians. This consensus, however, was violated when Pope Gregory XIII— being conscious of inaccuracy of the method used by the Julian astronomical calculation was still occurring—reformed the calendar in 1582. Most Orthodox Christians decided to stay faithful to the Julian calendar. Today all churches recognize that inaccuracies exist in both methods of calculation.

During the conference in Aleppo in Syria, which took place from March 5 to March 10, 1997, representatives of the big Christian traditions proposed to establish a common date to be used by the whole Christian world. According to this project, the church would have continued the principle of the Nicea council for calculating the date for Easter, while basing it on very exact modern astronomical data and using the Jerusalem meridian. At the conference in Aleppo, which the Syrian Orthodox Church hosted, were represented the Anglican community, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church (Constantinople Patriarchate), the Middle East Evangelical Churches, the Greek Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Antioch and all of the East), the Lutheran World Federation, the Middle East Council of Churches, the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches, the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the Roman-Catholic Church (the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), Seventh-day Adventists, and the World Council of Churches.

If the astronomical calculation of the Nicea rule is more accurate in the Gregorian Calendar than in the old Julian Calendar, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches in Aleppo made a step toward the Orthodox Churches by agreeing to set the date of Easter according to the cosmic calendar, and not having a fixed date, as it was proposed by the Holy Hierarch to the pan-Orthodox meeting in Chambésy in July 1977.

At this pan-Orthodox meeting in Chambésy it was recalled that the symbol of spring equinox is a symbol of the first day of creation, the moment of division of day and night and proclamation of victory of light over darkness. The symbol of the full moon (which earlier corresponded to the Jewish Passover) is a symbol of the fourth day of creation, the moment of creating two lights and presage of the victory of light over darkness. Finally, the symbol of the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox reminds of the Resurrection of Christ, the one and definite victory in human history over death, which leads to the everlasting eight day of creation. According to this rule, Easter is always celebrated in accordance to the Nicea rule after the Jewish feast of Passover (according to the Ancient Jewish calendar, which in the calendar of the divine-human union united the Passage of the Red Sea with the fourth day of Creation).

Celebrating Easter according to the Aleppo rule allows all Christians to realize the message of the fathers of the Nicea Ecumenical Council, that on the day of resurrection all the earth is illuminatedone hemisphere receives all the light of the sun, and the other hemisphere receives all the light of the moon.

Participants of the meeting in Aleppo, representatives of the main branches of Christian Churches, formed a second recommendation, which called for opening a period of research and consideration around this consensus in order to facilitate its acceptance.

Participants of the Ecumenical Seminary in Lviv (April 2009), organized by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University, who represented all the Christian Churches of the city (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant), and also representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches in a positive manner reviewed the consensus reached in Aleppo. They also expressed wishes that 2010 and 2011, when the dates of Easter fall by coincidence on the same date, be periods of preparation to the joint celebration of Eastern on April 8, 2012, on the day when in the astronomical plan will correspond to the Nicea rule. During the press conference which was organized after the seminar, the members explained that the confirmation by the Orthodox Churches of the consensus in Chambésy in 1977 (repeated by the pre-council conference at the Holy Священному Orthodox Synod in 1982) would make possible such a perspective.

At the same time Christians around the world can unite their prayers and their efforts, so that the years 2010-2011 led to widest possible joint celebration, so that the 8th of April, 2012, everywhere where Christians reach consensus and receive benediction from their bishops or Church Authorities, celebrate together the most blessed feast of Christ’s Resurrection.

Signatures (surname, name, email address), which precede the message: “I support the call to celebrate on one day according to the rule determined by consensus in Aleppo, on April 8, 2012, Easter everywhere where Christians receive benediction from their bishops or Church Authorities” should be sent to the Institute of Ecumenical Studies (UCU) of Lviv:


Antoine Arjakovsky. Cоnversations with Lubomyr cardinal Husar Towards a Post-Confessional Christianity

History has known religious leaders who are remarkable for their tireless missionary activity and monumental institution building. Some great churchmen have left a legacy of voluminous theological writings.

Others have inspired with a charisma and spiritual power that seem super-human or defy the laws of nature.

Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, most of us hope for spiritual guides who can touch us personally.

Patriarch Lubomyr Husar is one of those unique figures who make an immediate, warm, welcoming impression and contact people on a basic human level. This direct simplicity has been nourished by his unusually rich experience and personal trials. Lubomyr Husar’s complex life has carried him across many lands and cultures and brought him to serve the Church in a variety of contexts and ministries. Some of the complexities came with a hidden twist; most have been lived with an exemplary lightness and a singular grace.


Download the book here

A new book of Antoine Arjakovsky “Waiting for a Pan-Orthodox Council” in French

In France, Antoine Arjakovski published the book "Waiting for a Pan-Orthodox Council.” The texts included in this collection are lectures which the author read from 2004 to 2010 in various places. The collection comprises four chapters.

The first one is titled “Aspects of Orthodox Christian thought.” It briefly outlines the main stages of preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council from the historical perspective, tying them with the general evolution of Orthodox thought after the Second World War. The second chapter “Towards practical ecumenism” considers one of the most controversial issues of Orthodoxy, which will be a subject of special attention during the council, namely: the legitimacy of the ecumenical movement for Orthodoxy and relationships of Orthodox churches with the whole Christian world.

The third chapter “Common features of the social doctrine of the churches” concludes that the Orthodox churches, each one with their own tempo and way, seek ecumenism, not only doctrinal but practical. The fourth chapter “The future of ecumenism in Ukraine and Russia” does not address directly the theme of the next council. However, the author believes it has its place in this book since it is suitable for the consideration of certain issues of the future council (such as the issue of the ecumenical movement or a common calendar), based on local experience.

Also, the Institute of Ecumenical Studies is preparing translations of Antoine Arjakovsky’s book "Waiting for a Pan-Orthodox council” into the Ukrainian and Russian languages.