Last Friday, Ukraine decided to suspend the European Union association agreement signing. Large scale protests are now being held all over the country. The smart looking picture on the left was taken in Lviv, Western Ukraine, on Sunday evening. It defies the political reality. In spite of what happened, EU-Ukrainian love is flourishing. Indeed, we know from Catholic Social Teaching: big things start small! The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk expressed his solidarity with the crowd at “Europe square” (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in Kiev last Sunday.
Recently, Roman and Greek Catholic bishops have been discussing reconciliation between Poles and Ukrainians, but on 14 May 2013, less than a week after the reconciliation project was announced, it fell apart. Continue reading
For a certain amount of time, a new Pope becomes a kind of white screen on which we project our hopes and anxieties with great abundance. This phenomenon seems more vivid now, not the least because our newly elected Pope Francis’ personal track record is fairly unknown and limited to a specific geographical area. Moreover, a new Pope will be confronted with all kinds of wish lists, e.g. of a more political nature. What is being said in the Eastern parts of Europe? Continue reading
Exactly 200 years after the French and 400 years after the Polish armies occupied Moscow and were subsequently chased from Russian territory, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited Poland. There he met with his flock and, more importantly, with the president of the Polish Roman Catholic Bishops conference Archbishop Józef Michalik of Przemyśl. In Warsaw they signed a common “pastoral” declaration calling for “dialogue, restoration of mutual trust and for rapprochement between the Russian and Polish nations in face of common Christian responsibility and the need to solve the same problems today.” Continue reading
What kind of country is Ukraine when it comes to alcohol? As a matter of fact, it is an astonishingly liberal country. The evil of alcohol abuse is allowed to roam about without much hindrance.
Alcohol abuse may well be the greatest evil in society, yet children can freely buy it, publicity is omnipresent and it is not uncommon to have a pint of beer out on the street, before midday. On festive days, parents encourage their children to drink, and this from a tender age. Beer used to be rather something for women and girls, but this is changing for the worse. Officially, drinking age is at 18 as is purchasing age, but this legislation is not being enforced. For sure, there does exist a “National Alcoholic Tradition” – see the NAT internet advertisement (pictured above on the left). Continue reading
Four days ago I returned from a trip to Ukraine. Even if this was my fifteenth or so visit since 1996, it was a great experience and it is really amazing to see how much the country has changed. Back in 1996 Ukraine was a dreary place with few colours and just a handful of cars on the streets. Probably, the country looked very much similar to what it was before the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. This situation has changed completely. Continue reading
The library of Communicantes contains a nice collection of books, many of which date back to the Cold War era. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, they became obsolete and started a new life as historical source. Recently, however, I came across an interesting 1983 publication by the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate: The Lvov Church Council. Although it deals with a church council in 1946, the book hadn’t lost much of its relevance. Back then, seventy-odd years ago, it was decided to unite the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which was loyal to the Pope of Rome since 1596, with the Russian Orthodox Church. In Greek Catholic circles this church meeting was dubbed ‘pseudo-council’, because it was not a spontaneous popular initiative at all, but a well-orchestrated KGB-secret service operation, instigated by the communist leadership in Moscow. Continue reading
The European Football Championship “Euro 2012” kicks off on 8 June 2012 with Poland-Greece at the National Stadium in Warsaw and finishes on 1 July at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev. Matches will be played in Poland and in Ukraine. Church circles as well have taken vivid interest in the event that will draw crowds of football fans to the cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv in Ukraine and Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw en Wroclaw in Poland. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
In the 1960s, the American television network ABC aired the serial “The Fugitive“. A man, doctor Richard Kimble, is wrongly accused of murdering his wife and subsequently condemned to death. By chance he manages to escape. While on the run from the police he is trying to find the culprit and in the final episode he succeeds in doing so.
No happy ending today, however, for refugees who got stuck somewhere on the border of the European Union. At the end of June 2011, the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe published an account of the detention of asylum seekers in Ukraine: No other options. It paints a grim picture of their life. Continue reading