Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
Address of the Synod of Bishops of the Kyiv-Galician Major Archbishopric of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to government officials, politicians and the civil society of Ukraine. Thursday, February 4, 2016
We, the bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, meeting at the current Holy Synod, cannot remain aloof from the present hopes and fears of our society. After all, the common good of the people, the true good of man, the freedom and dignity granted to him by God, is and always will be at the center of the pastoral care of the Church .
Our country has all the necessary requirements and possesses all the necessary resources — social, intellectual, workforce — to ensure a decent life for every citizen. At the same time, society needs leaders who do not waste these resources needlessly, who are ready to assume responsibility for the implementation of the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. The previous government did not carry out this duty and, under pressure from the people and at the cost of the spilled blood the heroes of the Heavenly Hundred, was forced to leave. The subsequent elections offered hope that the political system would be remade and the rules of conduct for government officials would be changed. This is why, after Maidan, society gave a new vote of confidence to its leaders, for which they bear very heavy responsibility.
However, today it is now clear to the naked eye that disillusionment and fear are growing in society. These days the Church is particularly alarmed by indications that the reforms demanded and needed by our society are being blocked at the state level. We, as pastors, will not attempt to offer an expert evaluation of the political and economic situation in the country. However, we share the opinions of our faithful and the general public about the urgent need for reforms, which inherently must offer the Ukrainian people the possibility of realizing their God given talents while guaranteeing them social justice and the fulfillment of their hopes for a decent life for themselves and their descendants. Constitutional changes, especially, must be approached with a particular sense of responsibility. After all, ill-considered actions in this area can carry with them damage to the unity of society and a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of our Homeland.
Groundless delays and deferrals of reforms hold back the development of our society. The vested interests and actions of certain politicians and groups present an ever greater threat because they destroy the faith of Ukrainians in the very possibility of vital and necessary changes. Furthermore, they also destroy public confidence in the institutions of government — a situation that under current conditions can only benefit our enemies.
Ukrainian society wants to see the results of its struggle for a decent life, for which our people have paid and continue to pay such a high price in blood and sacrifices on Maidan and in the East of Ukraine. However, we must warn you that any government inevitably discredits itself when it acts according to a double standard and when the actions of certain of its representatives are contrary to their own declarations. When people pay with their blood on the field of battle for the very independence of the state, it is unacceptable to negate their efforts by inhibiting change through internal strife and by trading on their good name in the international community. Society expects from government officials new and honest laws that they must respect, as well as responsible and transparent actions that provide the basis for trust and hope.
We send an urgent appeal to those whom people have entrusted with governmental powers not to place personal, business or party interests above those of the entire nation. Concern for the common good and the concentration of all available resources toward the defense of human dignity and the establishment of social justice in our nation must become the consolidating factors for all of society and its leaders.
The latest developments in Ukrainian politics suggest that today the deadline for such a change of conscience in the government has arrived, so that we may cross the point of no return beyond which it will become possible to build a truly independent country without the devastating effects of the post-Soviet traumas.
Finally, we want to appeal to all people of good will in Ukraine. Dear compatriots! After Maidan, under conditions of external military aggression against our country, the Ukrainian people do not have the right to turn into a society of the disillusioned or the desperate. That would be the biggest defeat for everyone. It is necessary to keep a cool head and remain calm to avoid squandering through rash actions or reckless steps the gains that we have achieved at such a high price. ” It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galations 5:1) Let these words of God serve as encouragement for all of us to further persistent work and the guarantee for our hope of final victory of the forces of righteousness and truth over the forces of darkness and evil.
We call on all the faithful to renewed prayer for our people, our government and all our military and may the continued blessings of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with all of you!