Head of the UGCC took part in the international conference “Legal Guidelines for Prison Ministering”

Thursday, 25 June 2009, 22:05
On June 6, 2009, in Kyiv, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), in cooperation with the State Department of Ukraine for Execution of Punishment, participated in the international conference “Legal Guidelines for Prison Ministering” organized by the International Catholic Commission of Prison Pastoral Guardianship (ICCPPC) and by the Christian Inter-confessional Mission of Prison Ministering. The conference addressed the state of European legislation for providing humane conditions in penitentiaries. Among the participants were the leadership of the State Department, members of the State Department Civil Council, representatives of the penitentiary chaplaincy of European countries, members of the administration of the Christian Inter-confessional Mission, and lawyers.
On June 6, 2009, in Kyiv, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), in cooperation with the State Department of Ukraine for Execution of Punishment, participated in the international conference “Legal Guidelines for Prison Ministering” organized by the International Catholic Commission of Prison Pastoral Guardianship (ICCPPC) and by the Christian Inter-confessional Mission of Prison Ministering. The conference addressed the state of European legislation for providing humane conditions in penitentiaries. Among the participants were the leadership of the State Department, members of the State Department Civil Council, representatives of the penitentiary chaplaincy of European countries, members of the administration of the Christian Inter-confessional Mission, and lawyers.   Patriarch Lubomyr (Husar), the Major Archbishopric of Kyiv and Halych, took part in this important international event. At the opening of the conference the head of the UGCC stated: “We all are sinners, though only a small percentage of us are criminals. The condition of justice in Ukraine is very problematic for our society, but the purpose of this conference is to find a solution for this difficult situation. In particular, we must look at our own attitudes towards a criminal who was a prisoner, completed his punishment, and finally returned to freedom.” Later, Patriarch Lubomyr expressed the position of the UGCC in regards to fostering social solidarity, responsibility, justice, and mercy as it relates to public moral and justice. He thanked the administration of the criminal execution system for its assistance to the church in serving citizens who, as a result of circumstances, found themselves on the fringe of society. Moderators of the conference were Mytr. Proto-presbyter Oleksa Petriv, the head of the Secretariat of Major Archbishopric, and Oleksandr Svyetlak, chief of administration of social and psychological work. Greetings were read from the apostolic nuncio in Ukraine and from the Ministry of justice of Ukraine. Members of the working group of the ICCPPC “Area Juridica” gave a report on the condition of criminal justice in Central and Eastern Europe. The ICCPPC is headed by monsignor Khose Sesma, director of the Department of Penitentiary Chaplaincy of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (Spain), priest Oleksandr Dobrodeev, administrator of the Sector of the Federal System Implementation of Punishment of the Russian Federation from the Synod Department of Moscow Patriarchy in co-operation with the Military Powers and law-enforcement institutions (Russian Federation). Vasyl Koschynets’ presented the current status of the criminal execution system in Ukraine and outlined the steps necessary to maintain humane practices in penitentiaries, specifically by providing rights to the imprisoned and condemned, through cooperation with the clergy of the churches in Ukraine. Representatives from the official public organs of Ukraine and public organizations included: Yuriy Reshetnikov, head of the State Committee of Nationalities and Religions; Hennadiy Druzenko, vice-president of the Institute of European Integration; the legal advisor for the Committee of Supreme Council of Ukraine of European integration; and Oleksandr Zayets’, head of the administration of the public organization “Institute of Religious Freedom.” They expressed their visions of how the church influences the state’s penitentiary policy. Soren Johnson, Vice-President of the International Association of Prison Chaplaincy (USA), also participated in the conference. He presented the results of the organizations’ programs that deal with the justice of compensation and reconciliation. The executive director, Yuriy Vasyl'chuk, and the members of administration of the Christian Inter-confessional Mission of Prison Ministering described the parameters of cooperating with the State Department. Among the main problems, they expressed the necessity of legally allowing citizens of Ukraine to obtain the unimpeded service of chaplaincy during their preliminary imprisonment. Deacon Gaynz Peter Ekhtermayer summed up the work from the conference, calling all the representatives of the state and churches to continue cooperating in the reformation of criminal justice in order to maintain the dignity of man regardless of his circumstances.

For the Information Department
Deacon Kostyantyn Panteley, Information Department
Advisor of the UGCC for the penitentiary system of Ukraine

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