«Polish-German Reconciliation is interesting for us that an interconfessional aspect was very clearly manifested here», - Pavlo Smytsnyuk

2021-11-16 14:30

«The main aim is to have a closer look at how other countries, other Churches and other contexts dealt with conflicts. Ukraine is currently dealing with a conflict with Russia, a conflict between different social and social-political groups and Orthodox Churches. We would like to see how other countries and other contexts lived in similar conflicts and somehow were dealing with those. We don’t mean to necessarily learn from all the lessons, borrowed from other countries, but we want to have a closer look at how they were dealing with these conflicts, and maybe we may come across some useful insights, interesting ideas, applicable for Ukraine. We want to get aside from our conflict, to look at it from aside by looking at other conflicts through the prism of other contexts, other approaches.

Today we are going to talk about Polish-German reconciliation. The next four webinars we will be moving away from Ukraine, we will go to the Balkans, we will go to the Northern Ireland, to Lebanon, we will have a look at Israeli-Palestinian crisis. This way, we will move to this Mediterranean, European-Middle East context. But we start from the Polish-German reconciliation, which is interesting for us, that an interconfessional aspect was very clearly manifested here. Catholic and Lutheran Churches in both countries were involved into this process, and sometimes they were playing the role of initiators for reconciliation. The ecumenical and interstate reconciliation were walking hand in hand”, - Dr Pavlo Smytsnyuk, director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of UCU, the discussion moderator, told us about the peacebuilding projects.

Polish theologian and sociologist, professor of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Dr Piotr Kopiec outlined the history and topography of the ecumenical movement in Poland. Also, the professor told us about the Churches’ contribution to the Polish-German reconciliation: “Without Christian and ecumenical contribution, the Polish-German reconciliation would be impossible or, at least, would be slower and not deep. The relations between two countries show us that the ecumenical idea and ecumenical moods influenced the society objectives, and individual leaders changed the course of history. Obviously, there is a lot of work in the relations between two countries. But if you think about the history of the last century and the feeling of the damage, caused to the relations between both countries, then reconciliation becomes a miracle. Reconciliation would be impossible without certain leaders, who desired to achieve mutual apology. Archbishop Alfons Nossol was one of the key leaders of the Polish-German reconciliation. Hanna Moravska was the reconciliation “pioneer” on the theological level”.

The respondent at the seminar was Bishop Pavlo Schwartz, German Evangelic-Lutheran Church in Ukraine. “In the context of international reconciliation, the experience of Germany and Poland is unique. The legendary phrase “We Forgive and Ask For Forgiveness” - this is the phrase that was greatly unpopular at that time. Priests and bishops who were this on the Polish side and on the German side both Catholic and Lutheran they would hear in response from average parishes that they are betrayers. The process of healing from this was quite long.

This experience could be used in Ukrainian context. We have so many traumatic experiences, that we can talk about. The difference between Ukraine and Poland is huge, because we are more interconfessional and interreligious than interethnic community. This gives us an opportunity to start many dialogues. And only when we face, when we look in our hearts, we can start a dialogue.

Within the Ukrainian context the ecumenical work is accomplished in a different way. That is a huge success for Ukraine that we have the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations”, outlined the bishop Pavlo Schwartz.

The next webinar of the “Ecumenism and Peacebuilding: International Lessons for Ukraine” project took place on November 11 on the Israeli-Palestinian experience.