September 2021
29 30 31 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 1 2


I. Onyshchuk: Address to International Leadership Conference 2018

Address to International Leadership Conference 2018, Seoul, Korea, February 18-22, 2018

Dear organizers and participants of the International Conference! I am very pleased to take part in such an important event. I am also sincerely grateful to the organizers for their efforts to attract the attention of well-known political figures, government officials and religious leaders to the challenges of our time.

The theme of this year's International Conference is very relevant and timely. I would like to present the position of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and highlight some of the universal principles and values of the “Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church,” based on which one can build a society worthy of a person. This document provides advice on the ways and means of building a new type of international relations based on solidarity, peace and security guarantees for the entire world community. This document testifies to the fruitful meeting of the Gospel with the problems of humanity that arose during its history. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church can become the basis for dialogue with all who sincerely seek good for humanity. Openness to the dialogue between religions and cultures and their awareness of the urgent need to combine efforts for justice, brotherhood, peace and development of the human person is a real sign of hope.

One of the principles of social doctrine, the principle of solidarity, in a sense includes everything else. It is “one of the main Christian principles of social and political organization of society.”[1]“Social love”[2]is the antipode of selfishness and individualism. The holistic development of the human person and the development of society affect each other. “If justice as such is a‘judge’between people who honestly distributes good things, then only love, including love which we call ‘charity,’ is capable of returning a person to her”[3]. Human relations can be governed only by the measure of justice. And love is the highest and noblest form of relationship between people. Therefore, love must inspire every sphere of human life, including the international order. Only then will humanity be able to build a genuine and lasting peace, when it will rule “the civilization of love”[4]. Solidarity can provide the common good and contribute to the integral development of the human person: Love “allows a neighbor to see his second ‘I’”[5]. The activities of political and religious leaders should be based on the fundamental principle of the “rule of the human person”[6].

The need to develop the integrity of the human person prompts us to defend such high values that govern each organized and fruitful human society: truth, justice, love and freedom.[7] The European system of state–church relations is based on the philosophy that recognizes the primacy of the individual over the state. The higher the welfare of citizens and the more consistent their civil rights and freedoms, the stronger and more democratic state.

The necessity of law in the sociopolitical life of society is due to the nature of man and his freedom, which in civil society can be realized only as a result of a social contract. The state cannot be separated from civil society. The state changes its nature in such a way that, in accordance with the legal framework, it ensures the achievement of freedom and justice for all.

To ensure the rule of law, of the greatest importance is the principle of mutual trust.[8]From this perspective, it is necessary to revise the normative documents of the peaceful settlement of conflicts in order to expand the scope of their application and their obligation. The institutions of negotiation, mediation, reconciliation and arbitration, which serve as an expression of international legitimacy, need to be supported by creating effective legal power in a world in which the world reigns. Progress in this direction will allow the international community to become not a simple accumulation of states, but a structure in which peaceful resolution of conflicts is possible. Just as within individual states, personal revenge and repression gave way to the power of the law, and in the international community, such actions need immediate implementation.[9]International law should make it impossible to rule the law more strongly.[10]

Peace is a value and a general duty; it rests on the principles of a reasonable and moral order of the society.[11]The world is not just a lack of a war or a stable balance between the warring parties.[12]The world is based on the correct understanding of the human person and requires the establishment of a device in accordance with the principles of justice and mercy. The world is a fruit of truth, which we understand in the broadest sense, as maintaining the balance of all dimensions of the human person.[13]. The concept of Pope John Paul II focuses on the active personality, on the subjectivity of society; the state is interpreted as an instrument that ensures and guarantees the personal and social search for good. There is a danger to the world when a person does not receive what he owns as a person when his dignity is not respected and when public life is not directed towards the common good. It is important to protect and consolidate the rights of people to build a peaceful society and for the integral development of individuals, peoples and nations. Peace is the fruit of love. True and lasting peace is more of a matter of love than justice because justice eliminates what impedes peace: injuries or losses. However, the world itself comes from love.[14]

The world is created day after day so that the order, which was conceived by the Creator, reigned. The world can flourish only when everyone recognizes his responsibility for establishing it. In order to prevent conflicts and violence, it is necessary that the seeds of the world be sprouted in the heart of each person. In this way, the world will spread from families to various social unions until it reaches the whole political community. In an atmosphere of harmony and respect for justice, a true culture of peace can grow, capable of embracing the entire international community.[15]

The Catholic Church treats modern democracy not only as a result of the formal adherence to a number of rules, but as a fruit of conscious choice of values that form the basis of democratic procedures. The meaning of democracy is lost and its stability is threatened when the value of the human person, the observance of human rights, and the service of the common good are offset and cease to be the main criterion of political life, both in a particular country and internationally. The Catholic Church sees the greatest threat that is based on the principles of a democratic system of world order in ethical and moral relativism, which argues that there is no criterion for building a fair hierarchy of values. In entering into controversy with the supporters of such an idea, John Paul II observed that if there is no definitive truth that would govern political activity, it is easy for the authorities to manipulate ideas and beliefs in their own interests. 

History shows that democracy without values is very quickly transformed into an open or barely covert totalitarianism.[16]

Pope Benedict XVI in the Encyclical “Love in Truth” emphasizes the need to find innovative forms in the activities of international organizations and the urgent need for their reform in order to fill the concept of a “family of peoples with a specific content and form. Against the backdrop of modern political, economic and financial development, there is an urgent need for a genuine world political authority ... for managing the world economy, for the rehabilitation of the affected economy, to prevent the deepening of the crisis and the imbalances that arise therefrom for the realization of the cause of final disarmament, and also guaranteeing security and peace, to ensure the protection of the environment and the regulation of migration flows.”[17]

The logical continuation of the analysis of the problem of war, peace and security was reflected in the apostolic teaching of Pope Francis’ “The Joy of the Gospel.” The Pontiff remarks that in conditions where the modern world is “torn by war and violence,” in some Christian communities there are new forms of hatred, divisions, revenge, and the desire to impose their own views on all permissible and inadmissible means. The people who are “wounded by old divisions” find it difficult to accept the church's appeals for forgiveness and reconciliation, which are sometimes interpreted by enslaved nations as a renunciation of their past and ideals. The search for ways to build a qualitatively new type of international relations cannot be accompanied by isolation, which is a kind of immanence and can be expressed in a false autonomy in which there is no place for God.[18]

Pope Francis emphasizes the need to understand each and every person as part of humankind and the need to get out of oneself to join others in the creation of a humanistic world of solidarity. “We all are in the same boat and float to the same pier!”[19]

The Catholic Church emphasizes that the preservation of the world order aimed at the peaceful coexistence of states on the world stage is based on the principles of the guarantee and observance of human rights, peoples and nations; the recognition of the priority of moral values over material, in compliance with the international principle of equality and sovereignty of states, and on the dominance of humanism and solidarity in inter-state relations. Consequently, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church consistently defends the principle of the morality of politics.

How well the rules of law correspond with natural rights and human freedoms, in particular in the area of freedom of conscience, determines the degree of democracy and justice present in the ruling system. The church, in addition to its direct functions, acts as a mediator between civil institutions and political authorities in civil society. Obviously, the task and purpose of a democratic state is the common good, progress, and ensuring the integrity of society and all its components. The primary task in ensuring the common good is to take care of social peace and ensure order, which guarantees stability and development. That is why the state should give citizens, public organizations and institutions full freedom of action and intervene only in the event of a threat to public peace.[20]

The church has a place for many different cultural models and forms of social service, which are manifested in the field of philanthropy, chaplains in health care institutions, chaplains in higher education institutions and in the armed forces. A striking example of social service is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which carries out a variety of social projects. At the present stage, the following directions of implementation of social programs are available: migration problems, assistance to prisoners, help to dependents, assistance to families and children, assistance to persons with functional limitations, health care, and so forth. The priority directions of cooperation between the state and the church are social morality, education, culture, health care, social security, support for the institution of family, maternity and childhood, care for persons in prison, educational, social and psychological work with servicemen, environmental protection, and so forth.

Most churches in Ukraine take an active part in the process of harmonizing interethnic relations at the present stage of state building, paying considerable attention to various actions devoted to religious and national reconciliation, and organization of various scientific and practical conferences, round tables, symposiums, and seminars. The solution of issues of interethnic coexistence in Ukraine and related interdenominational issues is carried out in the context of promoting intercultural and interreligious dialogue.

The main mechanisms of interaction between the state and the church in the present conditions of social development are the following: (a.) the constitutional and legal mechanism, which consists in the adoption of normative legal acts regulating the activities of religious organizations and providing expression of will on the basis of freedom of conscience and religion; (b.) the organizational mechanism, that is, the establishment of links between state authorities and religious organizations, the exercise of state control by state authorities for the activities of religious organizations; (c.) the economic mechanism—definition of the procedure for collecting taxes and fees that are paid by religious organizations, restitution of church property, and so forth; and (d.) the social mechanism—the state's efforts to raise people's attitude towards the church, organizing events to celebrate major church holidays at the national level. It is proved that the work of state–church consultative and advisory bodies at ministries and departments in the format of public councils is important in the process of deepening both the state–confessional and inter-confessional dialogue, and the development of specific mechanisms of cooperation between the state and the church in various spheres.

The main functions of churches and religious organizations in Ukraine in today's state of creation are the following: (a.) social functions, which are divided into ideological, compensatory, communicative, regulatory, legitimizing and integrative; (b.) spiritual and cultural functions reflecting the activity of churches in preserving and reviving the historical and cultural heritage, moral and ethical education of children and youth, and the educational activity of churches; (c.) the peacekeeping functions of the churches are manifested in calls for peace between peoples, the establishment of lasting peace on the territory of Ukraine, changing views on the world, preventing the use of the church for aggressive purposes, and contributing to overcoming the contradictions between churches in the political sphere; (d.) ecumenical functions—convergence of all Christian churches, community of religious and social interests, overcoming existing differences that weaken unity; (e.) state-building functions of the church ensure harmonization of interethnic relations, humanization of state power, formation and development of civil society, consolidation and democratization of Ukrainian society. The church, in relation to the political process, performs a moral correction function and ensures the creation of a new moral climate in society, forms moral and ethical norms.

A concrete expression of organizational dialogue forms of inter-church interaction is the activity of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, which was formed in 1996 as a representative inter-confessional consultative and advisory body. The purpose of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations is to unite the efforts of churches and religious organizations to coordinate inter-church dialogue, to participate in the drafting of normative acts on issues of state–confessional relations, and to implement complex measures of a charitable nature. The council positions itself as an organization independent of the state authorities and any political parties, movements, and other public formations. As of today, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations comprises 16 churches and religious organizations and one inter-church organization, among them Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical churches, as well as Muslim and Jewish religious associations. A significant event was the fact that on February 6, 2018, the G7 ambassadors met with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations in order to establish interaction and constant dialogue.

Demonstrations of the unified position of churches on certain actual problems of the functioning of church/religious life in the country are facilitated by their joint statements, which are mainly heard within the framework of cooperation in the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations. In this context, one can cite, for example, the statement of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations on the need to respect religious feelings, symbols and traditions, and the appeal of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations to protect public morality from state organizations, the media and the public.

The council encourages interfaith cooperation and the participation of the clergy of Ukrainian Christian churches in conferences, consultations and other events, in particular within the framework of the Days of Religious Freedom in Kyiv and other cities of the country, organized by public and scientific institutions—Ukrainian Association of Religious Studies, Ukrainian Association of Religious Freedom, the Department of Religious Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in the Razumkov Center, which is constantly functioning at the round table “Religion and Power in Ukraine: The Problem of Mutual Relations.”

Certainly, the participation of churches within the activity of consultative and advisory bodies deserves attention, in particular in the format of public councils under the executive bodies of power. This form of inter-church relations is extremely important for deepening the inter-confessional dialogue, since its purpose is to establish specific mechanisms of cooperation between the state and the church in various spheres of their interaction, which is a common interest for all religious institutions.

I believe that these thoughts will help guide our discussions since we are looking for the best foundations for creating just societies that can restore the dignity of those who live with great uncertainty and cannot dream of a better world. The future of our planet will not be in the hands of aggressors and dictators but in the hands of people who make peace and are spokesmen for reconciliation among peoples. I wish for fruitful discussion of the challenges, aspirations and perspectives of the development of the modern world and ways of achieving the common good.

Thank you!


[1]John Paul II. Enc.Centesimusannus, 10: AAS83 (1991), 805-806.

[2]John Paul II. Enc.Redemptorhominis, 15: AAS71 (1979), 288.

[3]John Paul II. Enc.Divesinmisericordia, 14: AAS72 (1980), 1223.

[4]John Paul II. Enc.Dives in misericordia, 14:AAS 72 (1980), 1224; ККЦ, 2212.

[5]St.John Chrysostom.HomiliaDeperfectacaritate, 1, 2: PG56, 281-282.

[6]JohnXXIIIEnc.MateretMagistra: AAS53 (1961), 453.

[7]JohnXXIIIEnc.Paceminterris: AAS55 (1963), 265-266.

[8]JohnXXIIIEnc.Paceminterris: AAS55 (1963), 287-288.

[9]John Paul II. Enc.Centesimus annus, 52: AAS 83 (1991), 858.

[10]John Paul II.  Message on the occasion of the World Peace Day. (2004 р.), 9: AAS 96 (2004), 120.

[11]John Paul II. Message on the occasion of the World Peace Day. (1982 р.), 4: AAS 74 (1982), 328.

[12]Vatican Council II, Constitution. Gaudiumetspes, 78: AAS58 (1966), 1101-1102.

[13]Documents of the Second Vatican Council. – Lviv: Swicado, 1996. – С. 601.

[14]Pius XIEnc.Ubi arcano: AAS 14 (1922), 686.

[15]Vatican Council II, Constitution. Gaudiumetspes,78: AAS58 (1966), 1101.

[16]The Encyclical of His Holiness the Pope of Rome in 1891, 1981, 1991. about work, human life, ethics and morality. – Кyiv.,1993. – С. 258–259.

[17]Venedikt XVI. Love in truth / Venedikt XVI. – Zhovkva: Missionary, 2010. – С. 107–108.

[18]Francis. Joy of the Gospel / Francis. – Lviv: Swicado, 2014. – С. 81.

[19]Francis. Joy of the Gospel / Francis. – Lviv: Swicado, 2014. – С. 81.

[20]Tsyurupа M.Modern religious situation in Ukraine and some aspects of its evolution / M. Tsyurupа // People's Army. 1999. – 24 Dec. № 240. С. 21–22.



To go to the International Leadership Conference Schedule 2018, click here.