Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ukrainian Catholic Patriarch lauds national independence

I cordially greet you all, those in Ukraine and in the diaspora, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and join you in a thanksgiving prayer to the Almighty Lord for the invaluable gift of freedom for the native land and our state,” wrote the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), Patriarch Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), in his address on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

According to the hierarch, the celebration of the national jubilee is not only a reason for joy and gratitude but an excellent opportunity to meditate on what kind of state we want and need.

“We will probably be right to say that we want to live in a state where the social, economic, political and other  dimensions of life of the people are based on integrity, justice and responsibility,” noted the hierarch.

The head of UGCC stressed in his address that integrity and justice are different aspects of the same essence.

“Social justice is based on personal integrity, and honest citizens are a reliable support of the just authorities,” said Patriarch Sviatoslav.

The hierarch noted that our state will be just only when the purpose of its government is the service for the good of all its citizens and each individual person.

“Such a state respects the dignity of the person and ensures necessary conditions for the growth of each member of the society as a free personality created from the image of God. It is about justice which is not repressive or punitive in its essence. It is justice which frees and saves. It requires of us respecting other persons regardless of their origin, political or religious beliefs,” wrote the head of the UGCC.

He noted that such justice calls us to social non-acceptance of extremism, violence and disrespect for social peace.

“This justice sets for the authorities the task of ensuring actual realization of the citizens’ rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of our state, particularly, the right to education, pension and social maintenance and the right to work and health service. The state should guarantee another important right, the protection of the honor and reputation of each citizen, establishment of fair conditions for the development of private initiative and economic activity on the basis of subsidiarity, fair right of vote and public and political activity.”

The head of Greek Catholics also touched upon the question of religious freedom.

“The state should ensure for its citizens the realization of the undeniable right to religious freedom and equal treatment by the authorities of all the churches and religious organizations whose activity is permitted in our state.”

According to the hierarch, justice “requires the right of free and all-round development of the Ukrainian language and culture in our own state, renewal of the historic memory of the Ukrainian nation and counteracting the modern manifestations of Ukrainophobia.”

In addition, a just state “should protect its citizens wherever they are and care about a live connection with the Ukrainians abroad.”

The head of the UGCC stated that “we should not only dream about such state but also continually create it! Only under this condition will we be able to duly keep and enjoy the gift of independence without a danger of losing it,” the Information Department of UGCC reported.