WCC delegation visits Ukraine

To renew relations with churches and religious organizations and to explore possibilities of joint promotion of peace and reconciliation in Ukraine, a staff delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) visited Kyiv in June. The visit was the fourth such visit by the WCC to Ukraine since the conflict erupted in 2014.

WCC representatives last visited Kiev in June 2015 when they held a number of formal meetings, including with a contact group established by the All Ukraine Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) following a March 2015 ecumenical delegation visit to Ukraine led by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

On this most recent occasion, the delegation consisted of two representatives: Peter Prove, WCC director of the Commission of the Churches for International Affairs, and Rev. Daniel Buda, executive secretary of the WCC Faith and Order Commission. The host and co-organizer of the visit was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).

During the visit, the delegation — aiming to receive a full picture of the current situation in Ukraine in the religious field — had a number of formal meetings with representatives of Ukrainian churches as well as with officials from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for Ukraine.

The delegation met with His Eminence Metropolitan Mytrofan, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the UOC, and its staff. His Eminence reported, that the UOC "is being pressured by political actors to take one side or another in current political conflict. But the church does not take any side, because it has to remain the church for all, and to bear witness for peace and reconciliation, following Christ's example."

During the meeting, His Eminence described the ongoing critical situation in the temporarily occupied territories and the changes in the religious landscape since the last visit of the delegation to Ukraine. His Eminence especially highlighted two recent draft laws registered in Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which would allow changes of jurisdiction and affiliation of religious communities by local referenda not limited to the members of those religious communities, and impose constraints on religious communities or organizations that are based in or affiliated with an 'aggressor state'.

The WCC delegation also visited the office of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission for Ukraine, and met with Alexander Hug, deputy head of the Mission.

Archpriest Vladyslav Dikhanov, head of the Synodal Department on Social-Humanitarian Matters of the UOC, provided the WCC representatives with an overview of the humanitarian situation resulting from the conflict, and of the church's efforts to respond to people's suffering and need.

World Council of Churches website

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