The Head of the UGCC discussed with Ambassador of Austria in Ukraine humanitarian situation in our country

Thursday, 23 June 2016, 11:29
On June 21, in the Partriarchal residence at the Partriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, took place an official meeting of the Father and Head of the UGCC His Beatitude Sviatoslav with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Austria to Ukraine Ms. Hermine Poppeller. The meeting was hold at the request of Ms. Ambassador.

During the meeting the sides discussed several important issues. First of all, they spoke about the vision of the UGCC of the social and political processes that are happening in Ukraine now, particularly in the context of war and humanitarian crisis which Ukraine is currently passing through.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav told Ms. Ambassador of Austria about the plight of our churches in the occupied Crimea and part of Donbas uncontrolled by Ukraine. The Primate explained in which conditions the faithful of the UGCC are living and why the world’s community has to help them in asserting their rights, especially the right to the freedom of religion.  

The sides spoke a lot about the social ministry of the Church in Ukraine, namely: about the work of the Greek-Catholic structure “Caritas Ukraine”;  about the size of humanitarian aid which it gave out during two and a half years of war unleashed by Russia on the territory of Ukraine; about the structures of Caritas which are now present in different parts of Ukraine; and about the recent decision of the Synod of the UGCC to create social-pastoral missions in the so-called grey zone which borders the contact line (de facto there are no other structures there, church or state, which would help people but there is a big need in hem.)

The Head of Church told the representative of Austria how the UGCC works together with “Caritas Austria”, particularly about the joint work between “Caritas Kyiv” and “Caritas of the Archdiocese of Vienna” launched after the visit to Ukraine of Cardinal Christoph Shönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.

Ms. Ambassador was interested in the situation with inter-confessional relations in Ukraine. The Primate briefly presented the main points of the Ecumenical Concept of the UGCC and, in general, the vision of the role and place of the Church in the civil society in Ukraine.

Also, the two sides discussed the importance of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, particularly in its international dimension. His Beatitude Sviatoslav drew attention to the significance of the voice of AUCCRO as the voice of the civil society – the voice which is the first on guard of the internally displaced people. They also said that those people need special attention of the society and Churches, in particular in order to be able to realize all of their rights as citizens of Ukraine. H.E. Ms. Hermine Poppeller was also interested in the principles of state-church relations. The Head of the UGCC underlined that our Church insists that separation of Church from the state does not mean isolation of Church from the society and state structures. In the Church’s opinion, this implies partnership on the principles of equality. And Churches are ready to work together with the state structures especially in the questions of social ministry, education, and chaplain ministry not only in the army but also in prisons, hospitals, and educational institutions. At the end, the sides discussed the preparation of a visit of the Head of the UGCC to Austria planned on November 12 this year, when by New Style we will be celebrating the memory of martyr Josaphat Kuntsevyh, whose relics for certain time rested in Vienna, in the Greek-Catholic Church of Great Martyr Barbara.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Austria gladly received this news and promised to assist in the organization of the visit so that it would be fruitful not only in the context of communication with the Greek Catholics of Austria. The Head of the UGCC, in the opinion of H.E. Ms. Hermine Poppeller, within the frames of this visit also has to meet with the highest officials of Austria in order to tell them the truth about what is happening in Ukraine now.


The UGCC Department of Information



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