Communicantes Conference ‘Churches in Ukraine’

The conference ‘Churches in Ukraine’ was held on 26 November 2011 at the picturesque Hernen Castle. Four key note speakers had been invited. Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager, who is visiting professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv since 2005, and Ukrainian nationals Father Roman Fihas MA,  drs. Julia Hoppenbrouwers-Nagornyak and  Mariana Kavinska MA demonstrated their intimate knowledge of Church in Ukraine. Furthermore, Professor Nico Schreurs, president of the Foundation Communicantes, spoke about the history and mission of the foundation. Editor-in-chief Father Dolf Langerhuizen introduced the audience to the review Pokrof. The conference ‘Churches in Ukraine’ was organised by the Foundation Communicantes and the review Pokrof, and was hosted by the Bredius Foundation. It is the aim of the Bredius Foundation to enhance knowledge of Byzantine culture among scholars and the general public.

About 45 guests participated in the conference. During the morning session Heleen Zorgdrager spoke about ecumenism. Then, Roman Fihas of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv discussed the social responsibility of the Churches. In the afternoon Julia Hoppenbrouwers introduced the audience to the popular beliefs of the Ukrainians. Last but not least, the curator of the Lviv based Foundation Symbolum Sacrum Mariana Kavinska addressed innovations to the traditional Ukrainian icon. Read our folder or a recent article (both in Dutch) to know what the conference was like.
Although they differed greatly, there was still something common to these topics. The way in which the Churches deal with ecumenism, social issues, popular beliefs and religious art illustrates the difficult process of transition from a totalitarian, monolithic way of thinking, methods, policies and culture towards a more pluralistic and open approach to theological and ideological questions. Too often, diverging views are considered to be stumbling blocks rather than stepping stones towards common understanding. The desire to impose a one for all solution is still very much alive. (FH)

Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager of the Protestant Theological University in The Netherlands spoke about her experiences with ecumenism in Ukraine. Read her lecture in MSWord (Dutch language).

The president of the Foundation Communicantes, professor Nico Schreurs, presented the work of the Foundation Communicantes. Read his lecture in MSWord (Dutch language).

Father Roman Fihas MA of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv discussed the social work of the Churches and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Read an abstract of his lecture in MSWord (English language).

Drs. Julia Hoppenbrouwers-Nagornyak spoke on the topic of faith and popular beliefs among the Ukrainian Greek Catholic believers in Western Ukraine. Read her lecture in MSWord (Dutch language).

Father Dolf Langerhuizen spoke about the history of the periodical Pokrof and of how gradually the focus of the review shifted. It started off in 1953 as a publication for post-war immigrants from Orthodox Europe. Nowadays, however, the readers are mainly Dutch. Pokrof focuses on Orthodoxy worldwide.

Labelling the strict rules of icon painting ‘Russian imperialism’, Mariana Kavinska MA introduced the audience to the new Ukrainian icon. She showed and discussed the work of modern Ukrainian artists, who broke away from the formal rules of icon painting yet preserving a large slice of the iconographic tradition.