His Beatitude Sviatoslav: "It is our and your fight for freedom!"

Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:04
If today Europe will give Ukraine into the hands of Russia, soon it will die - warns His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The main mistake of Europe - in His opinion - is that the European Union declares the devotions to certain values, but cannot protect them.

"I always said and say that Ukraine is not an enemy of Russia", - said in an interview for KAI His Beatitude Sviatoslav. When asked what would happen next, he admits that "the future of Ukraine will not be resolved on the battlefield. It can be solved entirely in the triangle: Ukraine, Russia, and the West. For without Russia and its decision it will be difficult to find a positive solution for Ukraine".

Here's the text of an interview with His Beatitude Sviatoslav for the Polish Agency "KAI".


KAI: The situation in Ukraine is every dramatic and that despite the truce, which looks very fragile. How do you see it, Your Beatitude, as the Head of the UGCC?

His Beatitude Sviatoslav: The situation in Ukraine is dramatic, but not tragic. We were attacked. It is the war - we need to speak openly! This is not an internal conflict, according to Russian propaganda. Twenty thousand Russian soldiers are in the territory of the Ukrainian state, mostly in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. There are Russian tanks and other specialized weapons. Every day - even during the truce – people perish.

Losses of population reach 3 thousand of killed. The whole Ukrainian villages were destroyed. For example, near Lugansk there was a village inhabited by Lemkos, moved there from Lemkivshchyna. It was razed to the ground. Systematically our land is destroyed and our people are killed. Meanwhile, the Russian side stubbornly insists that it is an internal conflict, but not the attack from the Russian Federation.

This painful truth - as a result of Russian propaganda - very few people want to accept. And that's because this war differs from known until now. Hybrid war - and with such we are dealing - is made up of conducting the efficient war primarily in the area of ​​information and manipulation of consciousness.

KAI: How do you assess the attitude of the West?

The fact that it came to Russian aggression in Ukraine, it  is partly the fault of the European Union, which has shown that it is weak, and did not want to admit that we are dealing with the war against one of the European countries. If Russia sees the EU and the United States do not want to react, they believe that they have permission to aggression. The sanctions against Russia are a good step, but it is too late. It is the highest time for Europe to feel more responsible. We should hope for this, all the more so Ukraine believed that Europe is its ally. The protests on Maidan in Kyiv were the manifestation of pro-European position of our country.

We have always believed that Europe was built on values. Now the question arises whether it is able to defend these values? We know that society is not only built on values, but ​​we should also be able to defend values. And Europe does not realize that.

KAI: And perhaps it is the past, and we are ruled by pure utilitarianism...

We are facing a great challenge, because if Europe gives Ukraine into the hands of Russia, soon it will die. Now the talk is about our and your freedom! This is the slogan of Polish independence has now become the slogan of Ukrainians. What is going on with us today tomorrow will be with you. We have to talk about how to create effective mechanisms for the defence of values, ​​declared by Europe.

For us, Ukrainians, the fact of shooting down the Malaysian Boeing and killing nearly 300 people was very painful. Does anyone in the West in two months talk about it and make the appropriate conclusions? This means that Europe forgets its victims, who are the victims of Ukrainian conflict? Does Europe act according to the system of European values? If Europe forgets about it, it means that it cannot react correspondingly in the name of European values. And may be tomorrow it will sell Ukraine?

KAI: Does Ukraine need foreign military support?

Ukraine wants to defend itself and it can defend. Here we do not need troops of the United States and other NATO countries. We ourselves can cope provided, however, that we have the appropriate weapons. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army has no weapons for the army was deliberately disorganized during the reign of Viktor Yanukovych. For the safety of Europe they do not need to build new NATO bases in Western Europe, they just have to help Ukraine to defend itself alone. And this requires the military equipment.

KAI: Meanwhile the West believes in peaceful measures rather than military. Does this way towards Russia have a chance?

The future of Ukraine will not be resolved on the battlefield. It can be solved only in the triangle: Ukraine, Russia and the West. For without Russia and its decision will be difficult to find a positive solution for Ukraine. Russia started the conflict and must complete it. Therefore, the diplomatic activity is very important. Sooner or later, the war ends with understanding. We have to reach this, because people are dying. Russia also loses a lot. This situation may be a catalyst for the important internal changes in Russia. The Kremlin must realize this.

I have always said and say that Ukraine is not an enemy for Russia. We, Ukrainians, do not understand why Russia is attacking us. They say that we are the enemy state. It has nothing to do with the truth.

Ukraine seeks dialogue and partnership, especially in culture. People in the south and east of the country have their loved ones, relatives and friends throughout Russia. For them this aggression is very painful. For both societies: Ukrainian and Russian.

KAI: But the diplomacy is above all...

If not the diplomacy, so remains the war. But everyone wants to avoid it, Russia too.

KAI: Russia?

I think so, and I want to believe it...

KAI: What prospects do Ukrainians connect with the election of Donald Tusk, who will occupy the position of the head of the European Council in December?

It is already said that one of the most dangerous people for Russia in the European Union is Donald Tusk. My greetings are for Poland and personally for Mr.Tusk.

KAI: What course of events in Ukraine do you expect, Your Beatitude?

No one knows. Neither do I. One thing I would like to emphasize. Foreign aggression entails the strengthening of the Ukrainian national identity. Today it is also confessed by those who had defined their identity in a completely different way.

Today the Ukrainian people are almost all, regardless of ethnic origin, political or religious orientation. Different ethnicity - especially in the East - led to the fact that the people there did not feel strong Ukrainian identity. Today ethnic origin loses its value, and the people are formed in a civil sense, "I am Ukrainian as I identify myself with my Ukrainian homeland, no matter what language I speak or which church I pray". People are starting to realize that Ukraine is their country and its independence and integrity is essential for their future.

. KAI: What are examples of this?

At least, Mariupol’, is the largest port on the Sea of ​​Azov. Three months ago at the local referendum most of the residents voted for the proclamation of the autonomous Donetsk national republic. However, when they saw the approaching of Russian tanks, it was such a shock for them, that Mariupol’ became the fortress of Ukrainian identity.

KAI: So who are the separatists?

The real separatists in Ukraine are very small. Eighty percent of them came from Russia, but only twenty – are local. Among them there are people who were rejected to the wayside by Ukraine authorities and also criminal elements.

KAI: The important element in the formation of national consciousness is also a religious faith. In Ukraine there are various Churches and the part of orthodoxy is dependent on Moscow Patriarchate.

Ukraine has always been a territory where there were conflicts on religious background. But today we do not have this. Religious communities act as a whole - even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. This church has a new head - Metropolitan of Kiev Onufriy. We'll see how he will build relations with Moscow and on the other side with an independent Ukrainian state. It is important that the first act of the Synod of the Church after the choosing of the new Head was a call to cease fire - directed to all parties. This is important.

Good atmosphere prevails in the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. In the most important cases we are united not only in words but also in actions. All the churches act for the benefit of free Ukraine, helping the army.

KAI: How?

In Greek Catholic and other parishes - money is raised for the needs of the troops. This is necessary because the team of Yanukovych held a far-sighted destruction of the army. The collection is carried out in all the churches, including Moscow. They support those who defend the common homeland.

We do not buy weapons, but helmets, body armours, medicines, bandages, food, etc. The money is collected in the parishes.

Churches also help in the organization of medical care and assist the refugees from the areas where the battles are lasting. We provide direct care, look for the accommodation, try to help in the integration in the new environment and find a job. In addition, our church - like others - sends chaplains to the front.

KAI: How many Greek Catholic chaplains accompany the military?

Today there are twenty-five. If a brigade from Galicia goes to the East, it goes with their priest.

KAI: The Greek Catholic Church is also a representative of the Ukrainian business abroad, isn’t it?

The important element of the Church's mission is to care about the truth. Recently I directed to the heads of international bishops' conferences and international organizations, including the OSCE and the UNO, the letter, in which I explained the situation in Ukraine. It was also received by the Orthodox Church and other religious leaders. It was a response to a letter of the Moscow Patriarchate sent before, where the situation in Ukraine was presented as a "religious war". You could read that "Uniates" and "splitters" kill Orthodox. Meanwhile, the relations between the Churches in Ukraine were so helpful than ever before. I could not be silent!

KAI: How in this context can be considered the position of Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church? Perhaps he is at a crossroads between the fear of Putin and fear of losing the faithful in Ukraine?

 On relations between the Patriarch and the Russian President I will not say anything. In general, the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church is under the influence of state propaganda and transfers it to the religious level. This is very dangerous.

KAI: Should we understand the concept of "Russkiy mir", declared by the Patriarch Kirill in this context that means vocation of Russia to the spiritual guidance in the world of Slavic Orthodox countries?

The concept of "Russkiy mir" fell together with the aggression onto Ukraine. It has nothing to do with the "spiritual guidance". Now the Patriarchate speaks about historical Rus’. And in this way he is trying to justify the belonging to the "historical Rus’" those territories that interest Russia taking into consideration its geopolitical interests.

If any representative of the Christian Church, instead of being an apostle of love, peace and reunion, begins to be a preacher of hate, he confuses people and attacks on religious peace, which is in Ukraine.

KAI: Could the current situation lead to the unification of three Orthodox Churches in Ukraine? And could it lead to the liberation of remaining under Moscow's influence?

The faithful of each of the three churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church began to demand reconciliation and unity from their priests.

Let’s recall that each of the three Orthodox Churches in this country declares itself as autocephalous, but only one recognizes the world Orthodoxy: Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC-MP). Russian aggression caused the crisis in the bosom of this Church. I know that for the brothers and sisters of this Church it is important to preserve its integrity, but it may not be easy.

KAI: Is the concept formulated by Cardinal Lyubomyr Gusar actual, according to which after obtaining the status for the UGCC Patriarchate around it can be born the movement of integration of Eastern Christianity?

Most of all I would like it to come to the mind of Orthodox. Setting of the UGCC Patriarchate is not the "attack" on the Moscow Orthodoxy or Constantinople. We want our future patriarchate to have the ecumenical dimension and to be open to others. After all, we are all children of the same Holy Baptism of St.Volodymyr.

KAI: Do Your Beatitude feel the sufficient solidarity from European churches?

The solidarity of Churches is extraordinary. Here I would like to thank particularly the Catholic Church in Poland, bishops and faithful, those who prayed and fasted in the intention of Ukraine. The humanitarian aid is also very important.

KAI: Is it enough? What else can be done?

The big problem is the refugees from areas affected by the war. Ukrainian society cannot help them sufficiently.

So the big request to Poles is to transmit to others the truth about what is happening in Ukraine. The information warfare, waged by Russia, is extremely dangerous. If the West succumb to misinformation, the consequences will be tragic.

KAI: How do, Your Beatitude, see the future?

Basically, I am an optimist. I am filled with optimism because of the transformation, which Ukrainian society is experiencing in various spheres: political, social, and so on. Such positive improvements Ukraine has not experienced for 23 years of Independence. We are no longer the amorphous post-Soviet state. We are experiencing the birth agony that bring suffering, but hopes for a new life. Russian tanks cannot destroy this process. As Christians, we believe in God who is the Lord of history, in His hands is the fate of all nations. I believe that God will bless the efforts of the society that defends, revives and follows the voice of the Gospel.

Remember that none war will last forever. And this conflict will be over. As the Heads of the churches, we must have a vision of the future. Presidents, generals and their concepts change, but the Church and the people remain. To the Church in Ukraine is the question: for what future for Ukraine and that part of Europe do we stand as Christians?

KAI: Is the moral revolution, began on the Maidan, being accomplished?

Kyiv Maidan - in the broader sense of the term - is not over. Our revolution is moral and finding the dignity moves to a new phase. For the revolutions the tragic dimension is typical, but still it is majestic.

As I said, there are three factors that can determine our current situation: Ukraine, Russia and the West. The famous Arab philosopher and physician of the Middle Ages Avicenna said that the doctor, who comes to the patient, should take into account three factors: illness, doctor and patient’s personality. Avicenna emphasized: if the patient is on the side of the doctor, they together overcome the disease.

Translation: "The Catholic Commentator"


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