News: Church Seminar Considers Questions of War and Peace in Ukraine

The second seminar of the commission “Truth, Justice and Reconciliation between Russia, Ukraine and the EU” was held at Kiev on October 2 &3, 2018. It took place at the Saint Thomas Aquinas Institute and Saint Sophia Open Orthodox University with the participation of the College of the Bernardins, of the Saint Clement Center, of the “Memorial” Society of Moscow, of the Mohyla Academy of Kiev, of the Ukrainian Catholic University and the support of Oeuvre d’Orient and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Below is the report of the commission.

A Peace among the Churches in Ukraine and Russia is possible

The armed aggression against Ukraine has already been going on for more than four years, claiming victims every day, not only in the ranks of the military but also among the civilian population. The participants in the seminar treated, above all, the question of the Churches, of war and peace, as well as the conflicts between the Churches of Russia and Ukraine, notably in the context of their relationships with Rome and Constantinople.

The Gospel commandments enjoin the Churches to be artisans of peace among parties or states which are in conflict. They cannot carry out this task if they do not seek to faithfully speak the truth in a language that can be understood by the societies of the two parties in conflict.

Unfortunately, we must recognize that the Russian Orthodox Church bears a heavy part of the responsibility in the appearance of an ideology of confrontation and in the refusal to recognize the sovereignty of the Ukrainian nation and state. However, at a time when, in Russia as in Ukraine, the official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church refuse to carry on a dialogue with the Ukrainian party which would be respectful of the rights of each, this responsibility falls upon Christians as the faithful of the Church of Christ and as representatives of civil society.

Aware of our responsibilities as regards the future of our peoples and our Churches, we should use all the possibilities of dialogue with the conviction that a stable reconciliation and peace comes about though a joint search for truth and justice.

At the end of our reflections on the complexities and tensions which have marked the history of our Churches, we arrived at an agreement on the following issues:

1) The granting of canonical autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the natural result of its millenary development. In the present situation, this decision is determined by the preoccupation for ecclesial unity on the part of the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful. Such a unity would enable a fruitful
development of the Kievian tradition of Christian openness, of diversity and of an authentic pastoral attention in the service of the people. At the same time, the believers who do not want to join the local independent Church should have the right to freely choose their canonical jurisdiction, including the option of remaining under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. We also believe that the constitution of a local Ukrainian Church will have a beneficial influence on the Russian Orthodox Church, that it will enable it to reconsider its history and rid itself of an imperial ideology and will create the necessary conditions in the future for a dialogue among the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine and in the world.

2) The path towards the unity of the Ukrainian Church and the constructive cooperation among the Churches will not be accomplished with the simple remission of the Tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine. It is necessary that the dialogue be continued with the great centers of Christianity: Rome, Constantinople and Moscow. These centers, in their turn, should not look upon Kiev as an object of discord, but as a partner, enjoying equal rights and not envisage Ukraine as a battlefield but rather as a pace for dialogue and constructive collaboration.

3) The various historical stages of the tradition of the Churches of Kiev should be reinterpreted in order to heal old wounds and find responses to the challenges of modernity. Unfortunately, neither the Russian Orthodox Church, nor the Ukrainian Orthodox Church depending on the Patriarchate of Moscow have, up to the present, admitted their participation in the tragic events which, in the 20th century, led to the interdiction and the attempts to liquidate the Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine, nor have they recognized their collaboration in other crimes of the totalitarian and atheistic Soviet regime directed against liberty of conscience and human dignity.

Because it wants to break the chains of the past, we hope to hear the local Church of Ukraine pronounce these words: “We pardon and we ask pardon” addressed to the Sister Churches in Ukraine as well as to those situated outside of the national borders.

We are convinced that a sincere contrition and the pardon of offenses should prevail over the actual official rhetoric of the Patriarchate of Moscow which does not want to recognize the evident discrepancy between its position, and, on the other hand, the Gospel and historical truth. In order that peaceful coexistence and the cooperation and intercommunion of Churches might become a reality, we should reject the ideological myths and come together to sort out, in a Christian spirit and with all the necessary scientific objectivity, what is so extremely confused in the history of the relations among Churches, the states and peoples. In this respect, the reconciliation among the Churches and peoples of France and Germany and then of Germany and Poland can offer a meaningful example. We are convinced that the reconciliation of the Churches offers a solid foundation for peace among, Russia, Ukraine and all the peoples of Europe.

Nikita Petrov, Historian, Memorial Association, Moscow
Sergei Chapnin, Journalist, Doctor of the Faculty of Theology of the Free University of Amsterdam.
Konstantin von Eggert, Journalist, TV Dojd’, Moscow
Alexandre Soldatov, Russian Journalist residing in Kiev,

Bishop Borys Gudziak, Historian, President of the Ukrainian catholic university,
Bishop of the Eparchy of Saint-Vladimir-the-Great for the Ukrainians of the Byzantine Rite living in France.
Myroslav Marynovych, Member of the Board of the Ukrainian catholic university at Lviv.
Constantin Sigov, Philosopher, Professor at the Mohyla Academy of Kiev.

Father Georges Kovalenko, Philosopher, Rector of the Orthodox Open University Saint Sophia of Kiev, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarchate of Moscow.
Bishop Evstrati Zorya, Orthodox Bishop, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarcate of Kiev.
Bishop Alexandr Drabinko, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarchate of Moscow.
Andry Yurash, Ministery of Cults in Ukraine.
Father Bohdan Ogulchanski, Orthodox Priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Moscow) at Kiev.
Oles Kulchynsky, Ph. D. in Linguistics, Candidate in History, University of Istanbul, Institute of Turkish Studies.
Father Michael Dymyd, Professor at the Catholic University of the Ukraine, Lviv.
Taras Dmytryk Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the UCU, Lviv.
Andri Dudchenko, Orthodox Priest teaching at Premudrist (Wisdom) on line.
Father Ivan Gounia, Greek Catholic Priest, Military Chaplain.

European Union
Antoine Arjakovsky, Historian, Co-Director of the Department “Politics and Religion” at the College of the Bernadins; Founder of the Institute for Ecumenical Studies at Lviv.
Woicekh Surowka, Polish Philosopher, Saint Thomas Institute at Kiev.
Marta Titaniec, Catholic Intelligentsia Club at Warsaw.
Cecile Vaissie, Professor at the University of Rennes.
Bernard Marchadier, Translator and Specialist in Russian Thought.