Conference explores the role of religion in Maidan: One year later

2014-11-17 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) One year after the Euromaidan in Ukraine, one thing is clear: religion was at the heart of the movement, says a Ukrainian Catholic professor.

“Unlike many western societies, where religion has been relegated to the margins of the public square, in Ukraine, it has been up front and centre,” said Fr Peter Galadza, director of the Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa.

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The Sheptytsky Insitute is holding a conference at St Michael’s College at the University of Toronto on Saturday, entitled “Religion in the Ukrainian Public Square: an analysis of the Euromaidan and its aftermath.”

The conference recalls last year’s months-long protest against corruption and in favour of a rapprochement with Europe and of a society built on the dignity of the human person. Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish presenters at the Toronto event will explore the religious significance of this historic period for Ukraine.

Speaking with Vatican Radio, Fr Galadza said he hoped the conference could identify ways for Ukrainians to face the challenges in their country. After one year and some critical distance gained, the new task that faces Ukraine is rebuilding.

“It’s not just tearing down, but also of building up,” he said.

Religious groups enjoy great moral authority in Ukraine and they play a key role in current events. For these reasons, religious leaders must be the moral conscience of the new rebuilding, said Fr Galadza.

“Religious groups need to continue what they are doing. Keep the pressure on the government and society on the whole…to overcome this endemic corruption,” he stated.

He also warned  Christians of Ukrainian origin in the West not to remain spectators to the faith aspect of the Maidan.

“The question for us is: how can we continue to tolerate the fact that our own Ukrainian Catholic/Ukrainian Orthodox communities are dying, when our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are demonstrating such a profound commitment to Jesus Christ? There is an irony in this: We in the west are just enthralled by the non-stop praying,” he said. “Yet the same person watching sometimes does not have the time to teach his own grandchildren to pray…You cannot vicariously live out your religious commitment.”

Fr Galadza called on Ukrainians in the West to commit themselves spiritually in their assistance in Ukraine.

“This is kind of a make-it-or-break-it time for Ukraine,” he said, adding that prayer and fasting are needed to help bring about a human solution.

Report and interview by Andrew Summerson

(from Vatican Radio)