IES Director Pavlo Smytsnyuk took part in the seminar “The Sources of Understanding and Desacralization of Violence”

2021-05-24 15:45

Webinar-discussion on the sources of understanding and descalization of violence was part of the project “Understanding. Religious Communities and Overcoming the Polarization of the Ukrainian Society”. The meeting became a continuation of the broader discussion on peace issues in the documents of various religions and focuses on the phenomenon of violence and its sacralized component.

Speakers at the seminar:

- Rev. Bohdan Ogulchansky, Academic Secretary of the Open Orthodox University, Pastor of the OCU Transfiguration Parish,

- Rev. Oleh Kindiy, Professor of Theology at the Ukrainian Catholic University.


- Pavlo Smytsnyuk, Director of the UCU Institute of Ecumenical Studies.


- Konstantin Sigov, Director of the publishing association “Spirit and Letter” and the Center for European Humanitarian Studies NaUKMA, consultant for the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience.

Rev. Bohdan Ogulchansky, a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, shared the main ideas and achievements made during the work at the international theological conference “Assumption Readings”, which has been held in Kyiv every autumn since 2001.

Rev. Oleh Kindiy, a priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Cathlic Church, presented the development of the doctrine on peace in the Eastern and Western traditions. He stressed that the theory of “just war” was first developed in the West, and much later it was “borrowed” by some Orthodox Churches. The speaker noted that the Churches sometimes “forgot” about the original vocation of the Sermon on the Mount, and today are rediscovering the Christian dimension of nonviolence.

Pavlo Smytsnyuk said that “a believer who finds himself in a situation of war is faced with a dilemma: to substitute another cheek or to hit back at the enemy. Two images appear before our eyes: on the one hand, Christ, who surrendered himself to the crucifixion without a fight or resistance, on the other hand, our friends and relatives, who probably need protection from the enemy. The tradition of the Church usually did not forbid protecting oneself and others. Folding our arms before an attack can be an incentive for the aggressor to go further and further. But at the same time, each strike in response provokes a backlash, contributing to the violence’s escalation. Are we sure that this escalation will not lead to the destruction of all mankind? Unfortunately, in a world where there are enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet, we do not have that confidence. What to do? I think that the Christians of Ukraine urgently need reflection on the theme of war and resistance. We need a prophetic vision on war that goes beyond the statements of governments and military analysts. At stake is not only our political well-being, but also our Christian existence”.


Project “Understanding. Religious Communities and Overcoming the Polarization of the Ukrainian Society” is implemented with the financial support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the IFA (Institute of Foreign Relations) within the ZIVIK funding program. The webinar is also organized by the association “Europe Without Borders”, Hagia Sophia Open Orthodox University, “Spirit and Letter” Publishing House, National platform “Dialogue on Peace and Safe Reintegration”, the New Sofia Library, and the UCU Institute of Ecumenical Studies.

Video of the seminar in Ukrainian