Inspiring by their courage…

2020-12-10 16:15

On December 7-8, the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University and the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations conducted in the frame of the Ecumenical Formation Program a two-day online academic module entitled “Consider the Outcome of their Way of Life, Imitate their Faith (He 13. 7): Devotee of Unity in UGCC”. The event brought together participants from Ukraine and abroad, including priests, chairmen of diocesan ecumenical commissions, and those interested in ecumenical issues.

The purpose of the event was to analyze the main ideas of the Christian unity of the UGCC’ leaders, such as the righteous Metropolitan Andrey (Sheptytsky), Patriarchs Joseph (Slipyj), Myroslav Ivan (Lyubachivsky) and Lubomyr (Husar). Their integral and crucial vision of unity, daily work and prayer in this intention have outlined the ways of the Church’s development, have brought many good fruits, from which we benefit even now.

The seminar was moderated by IES Director Dr. Pavlo Smytsnyuk and IES Researcher Fr. Dr. Roman Fihas. Several reports were presented over two days. “The Ecumenical Crucial Endeavor of Righteous Metropolitan Andrey (Sheptytsky)” was given by Fr. Dr. Ihor Shaban, Chairman of the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations. Father Ihor presented Metropolitan Andrey's vision of the Church’s unity.

Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko, IES President, presented a report entitled “Patriarch Joseph (Slipyj) and His Work for the Churches’ Unity”. Fr. Iwan was the personal secretary of the Patriarch and his close associate, so in his report there were many warm memories that characterize the greatness of the spirit of the confessor of the faith. Father Dacko presented the evolution of the ecumenical views of Patriarch Joseph.

IES researcher Taras Kurylets had a report on “Patriarch Myroslav Ivan (Lyubachivsky): Fidelity to Ecumenical Principles in the New Age of the Church Freedom”. The speaker emphasized the difficult situation in which His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan found himself after the death of Patriarch Josef and the new ecumenical challenges associated with the events of the UGCC's exit from the underground.

Pavlo Smytsnyuk presented the report “Ecumenism of His Beatitude Lubomyr: Between Realism and Utopia”. The speaker showed significant progress in ecumenical relations between UGCC and Orthodox Churches, which was realized during the Husar’s reign. Also, researching the ecumenical vision of His Excellency, he noted that the Patriarch repeatedly asked the question: are we ready to sacrifice our interests for the sake of the Church’s unity, because otherwise our words will remain empty?

Father George Kovalenko, Rector of the Open Orthodox University of St. Sopfia the Wisdom, former press secretary of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan), delivered a report entitled “Reaction of Ukrainian Orthodox Churches to the Greek-Catholic’s Ecumenical Initiatives”. Father George showed the variety of approaches to the cause of ecumenism that can exist within even one Orthodox Church: from acceptance and dialogue to extreme rejection and condemnation. He drew attention to the pernicious two-faced approach to the cause of Christian unity, which is often still inherent in the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, when one position is presented as official, but the real position may be radically different. Sincerity and openness should be the foundation for the inter-Christian relations.

The conference ended with a fruitful discussion.

Information: The Ecumenical Formation Program is a long-term educational and formative program developed jointly by IES and the UGCC Patriarchal Commission on Interfaith and Interreligious Relations for priests, members of the UGCC ecumenical eparchial commissions and those interested in the Christian unity, in order to understand better modern ecumenical processes in Ukraine and in the world, and to promote the practical initiatives of inter-Christian dialogue and understanding.