His Beatitude Sviatoslav talked with President Viktor Yanukovych about theological education, restitution of the Church property and cooperation between Church and state.

Sunday, 24 April 2011, 00:05
During the first meeting of the Ukrainian President with the Heads of the Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine, the Primate of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav raised the issues of theological education in Ukraine. Furthermore, he addressed the issues of restitution of church property and building relationships on a par between the Churches and religious organizations and the Ukrainian state.
During the first meeting of the Ukrainian President with the Heads of the Churches and religious organizations of Ukraine, the Primate of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav raised the issues of theological education in Ukraine. Furthermore, he addressed the issues of restitution of church property and building relationships on a par between the Churches and religious organizations and the Ukrainian state.   Evaluating the results of the first meeting between the President and the Heads of the Churches, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that it was rather a constructive meeting. “It was obvious that it was the first, but not the last meeting. Answering the question about how many times a year such meetings should be held, the President said that he awaits a response from the Heads of the Churches. I think that in our conditions such meetings will be held more often” – the Head of the UGCC expressed as his hopes.   “The first issue that I raised was related to theological education” – informed the Head of the Greek Catholics in his commentary to the UGCC Information Department. His Beatitude Sviatoslav expressed his gratitude to the government for recognition of theology as an autonomous discipline in humanities. At the same time, the Head of the UGCC stressed the necessity of implementing further important steps in order that “theology may be open for state accreditation in educational institutions of Ukraine.”   Another point raised by the Head of the UGCC at the meeting with the President was the situation around restitution of the Church property. “I said that our Church was greatly repressed by Stalin’s regime. Until today, we have been waiting for rehabilitation.” His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that the issue of restitution of church property was raised by almost all the representatives of Churches and religious organizations.   In the third part of his speech, His Beatitude highlighted the importance of establishment and activity of All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious organizations (AUCCRO). He underlined that the activity of the Council is indeed a unique case in the world and the Ukrainians could share it with other countries. He also notated AUCCRO not only helped find possible ways of cooperation between different Churches, but “it is also a very good opportunity and possibility to build relations on a par between Churches and religious organizations on the one hand and the State on the other hand”. In his turn, the President noted that Ukraine is a poly-confessional state which requires a sound policy in its religious sphere. According to Viktor Yanukovych, the government’s policy “is directed towards creation of favourable conditions for religious organizations. This therefore ensures equal rights and opportunities, promoting tolerance and respect among faithful. The Head of the State added that since Independence Ukraine has taken significant steps to ensure the proper status of religious organizations.   “At present most of the restrictions in Church’s activity have been removed and the foundations for cooperation between State and Church have been laid down. This is aimed particularly at reform of the government. The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine has been entrusted to perform functions of state policy in the religious realm. I am confident that such an optimization will bring good fruits” – said Viktor Yanukovych.   In the President’s view, the development of relations between central and local government with religious organizations in various public fields is extremely important for ensuring the right to freedom of conscience. The President sees a possibility of such cooperation in education, employment and in support of the armed forces - reports the press office of President of Ukraine.  
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