Screws of the machine that was broken. His Beatitude Sviatoslav gives a diagnosis to the Ukrainian people

Saturday, 30 January 2016, 12:02
His Beatitude Sviatosalv, the Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church is viewing the diseases of the Ukrainian nation, indicating on its reasons in comparison with the European diseases.

In psychology, arms crossed over a chest mean an attempt to avoid an unfavorable situation. But this gesture cannot be acceptable for a priest, says His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Head of the Ukrainian-Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) in respond for NV photograph’s request to fold hands on the chest.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav in his forty-five is prominent as an intellectual and polyglot, almost five years stands at the head of the Ukrainian Church, the third by its popularity, - five million of fellow citizens call themselves its faithful. Indeed, he acquired an excellent education of a theologian and philosopher in Buenos Aires, later on in Rome where he was studying at the famous Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The youngest Ukrainian Patriarch speaks many languages: except native Ukrainian, he masters Spanish, English, Polish, Old Slavonic, Russian, Greek and Italian. Despite this, he leads an intensely ascetic way of life: in his surroundings it is said that all his belongings is easily packed in one briefcase. 

His Beatitude Sviatoslav met with NV in his office on the territory of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. The conversation longed approximately one hour, and during this time the Head of the UGCC showed hospitality, an ability of a professional preacher to insert words accurately and listen attentively to the interlocutor.

We are society that has come out of a post-soviet period and is going through the period of emancipation. We are getting free of everything what can be called a survival of communism with all its diseases; when an initiative, freedom and individuality of everyone were leveled; when a person was a screw of a big machine. Imagine a tragedy of that screw when the machine was destroyed.

However, now we are going through the process of realizing our own dignity and freedom. It is evident, freedom is always concordant with a responsibility, and sometimes our responsibility leaves much to be desired. Ukrainian society is similar to a teenager now, who reveals new strengths and skills in their organism, however, to a certainty, doesn’t know what to do with it. It is a very positive process but, still, has some pitfalls.

Europe sometimes resembles a teenager who is testing his boundaries. Europe starts losing her Christian roots; in other words, forgets about a basement where she stands on. And it is very dangerous because she risks losing all her achievements, gained after World War II, such main concepts as democracy, peace and just economic relationships. If dignity of a person is no more a priority and basement of a government – it is a threat to democracy. If European community is starting to shut, obviously, its boundaries will be broken by someone (and it is the threat to a peace).

Too bad that for finding excuses for these or those terroristic crimes, the name of religion or faith in God is used for. A holiness of a human’s life must be a basement of any community and, above all, when we are talking about freedom and democracy. There is also another constituent, however. Religious display cannot be excluded from a social discourse. It can provoke really deep discomfort.

Totally secularized society will always be colliding with a danger, when all that subdued religious feelings reveal themselves. Respect of religious feelings of a human must be a constituent of the respect of their dignity.

I cannot agree the world is becoming less religious. In my opinion, it is a way of displaying religiosity that has been changing among people; other forms to display it are appearing. Let us remind USRR. I think there is no more secularized form of society in the world. But the cult of Lenin has its religious features till nowadays. It is a modern idolatry which acquires features of a classic religious character. The epochs, cultures are changing but nature of human does not change, and humans by their nature are religious creatures. On the other hand, we observe the institution of Church to go through a crisis.

But it also is not something mischievous. The reason is that Church starts to become modern and seek itself in new circumstances.

In USRR it was tried to create a new human, homo soveticus, saying, religion will pass away and there will be no place for it in a new society. It didn’t happen. Even such a big totalitarian system as USRR was unable to destroy a religious life. Nil novi sub solemn – nothing is new under the sun.

People fall into the illusion of self-sufficiency in a rich world. They live a safe life and don’t need neither God, nor king. A person starts consider him- or herself a little god what can do everything. The question is that all rich societies which have gone through such illusions and could not overcome them in time, suffered from crash and decline. A human is not almighty. Poor countries which only start their way of forming a just society, understand it better.

The idea to trust Church is relative and very unsteady because the question is what the basement of this credit is. It is firstly. Secondly, what a person understands by the name “Church”?

It is an interesting fact: last year all priests who were candidates lost the elections. It is a sign of wisdom of our people. Thanks to God. A clergyman who goes into politics is separated from his mission and identity, I would say. Never vote for priests.

None of our priests did not choose to be a chaplain in pursue of their own interests, except pastoral ones. Do believe me, Church never runs a poll. Church doesn’t tag along a social opinion. And social opinion never modifies any of religious postulates. Our Church is with our people, particularly, where there is the biggest need.

Very often, exactly our faithful become centers of a voluntary movement because social service is one of the attributes of a Church service. Otherwise, we understand a lot of volunteers join this type of activity not because of religious but all-human beliefs.

Our priests (at the frontline) are beyond the structure. They have a status of volunteers. And there are a lot of difficulties connected with this. In the army of USSR were only political leaders. Today a priest is considered to be a small political assistant.  

It also refers to the social services. Recently, there has been an occurrence in one of our Caritas offices. It is a charitable foundation which feeds homeless and helps the refugees. The edifice, where everything is held, stays in a government property and every year we get into these bureaucratic difficulties connected with a lease renewing.

What is more, recently we had a lease payment increasing in ten times.

I would like our State and Church to be partners in these and other issues or, at least, state not to impede.

The material is published in NV №1 from January 15, 2016



Pope Francis Meets with Ukrainian Church Leaders over Two Days13 July

An unprecedented event took place in Rome on July 5-6. Desiring to demonstrate support for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church at a time of...