UCU hosts academic conference “Ecumenism in Ukraine: Mission impossible?”

2020-10-19 11:45

On October 15, 2020, the annual meeting of the heads of the eparchial ecumenical commissions of UGCC took place took place in Lviv. It began with an acquaintance with the activities of the Theology and Philosophy faculty of UCU, conducted by Taras Tymo, a Deputy Dean for International Cooperation and Projects. After the meeting and the internal consultation, the chairmen of the eparchial ecumenical commissions took part in the conference “Ecumenism in Ukraine: Mission Impossible?”, organized by the UCU Institute of Ecumenical Studies and the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations. The event took place in the location of the Theology and Philosophy faculty in compliance with all sanitary and epidemiological norms. The conference was attended live by 9 priests, and the chairmen of the commissions from Rome, London, Warsaw, Paris and Munich joined through a video broadcast. The event took place within the IES’ Ecumenical Formation Program, which aims to create the foundations for a positive and constructive vision of Christian unity and interconfessional cooperation, through acquaintance of the clergy and faithful with the latest achievements of the international ecumenical dialogue and searching ways for realizing them in the Ukrainian context.

The conference was moderated by the head of the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations, Fr. Ihor Shaban. IES Director Pavlo Smytsnyuk greeted the participants of the event and wished fruitful work on the challenges of ecumenical dialogue in Ukraine, which are met by pastors and the faithful.

Fr. Roman Fihas, the IES’ researcher, in his report “Reasons for the cautious attitude towards ecumenism in some UGCC’ circles” highlighted the main stereotypes about ecumenism and the reasons for the skeptical attitude towards it among some believers and the clergy. It was said that the wounds, caused by certain historical events, confessionalism, proselytism, fear of others and a number of other reasons did not allow UGCC to fully develop its ecumenical potential (although this Church remains the leader of ecumenical initiatives in Ukraine). The speaker stressed that today it is important to bring ecumenism in our country to a qualitatively new level, which should be based primarily on dialogue, on the language of openness and friendship, and not on the language of accusations, rivalry or self-interest.

Taras Kurylets, the IES’ researcher, reminded about the theological dialogue, which began after the Second Vatican Council between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, and how the events surrounding of the UGCC coming from the underground influenced the dialogue. The analysis of the Balamand statement, which was ambiguously perceived even by the participants in the dialogue, remains controversial in interfaith relations until today. The speaker made an important distinction between the model and the method of Uniatysm.

Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector of UCU and the President of the UCU Institute of Religion and Society, shared with the conference participants an excellent analysis of the first ecumenical initiatives of UGCC during the difficult period of the 1990s. The author showed how the modern face of the Church was formed, in particular, through the participation of laity and clergy in national and international conferences, through the creation of small centers of dialogue and cooperation with representatives of other denominations, due to systematic and careful work in academic and pastoral spheres.

Fr. Iwan Dacko, the IES’ President, shared valuable information about the state of ecumenical initiatives in the diaspora before UGCC came out of the underground. The speaker spoke about the difficult situation of the Church, scattered around the world without a single coordinating center, and how much efforts Patriarch Joseph (Slipyj) made to create an administrative structure and thus to start developing its own ecumenical position.

After the conference, the participants took part in the Vespers in the Patriarchal House, which was headed by His Eminence Bishop Volodymyr (Grutsa), Auxiliary Bishop of the Lviv Archeparchy.

The next day, the chairman of the ecumenical commissions of UGCC together with Fr. Ihor Shaban and Fr. Roman Fihas visited Metropolitan of Lviv and Halych UOC Filaret (Kucherov). The meeting was also attended by the head of the Information and Education Department of the Lviv Eparchy, Hieromonk Iov (Olshansky). During the open and sincere meeting, the issues of inter-confessional and church-state relations, and the issues of combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus were discussed.

More fotoes here.

Institute of Ecumenical Studies.