On Tuesday, July 5, an informal meeting of the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church took place on the premises of St. Sophia of Kyiv.
The meeting was facilitated by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, the State Service for Ethnopolitics and Freedom of Conscience, and the Sophia of Kyiv National Reserve, which provided premises of the Metropolitan’s House for the meeting.
Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko took part in the meeting, while ethnopolitics agency head Olena Bohdan moderated the discussion, reports the Open Orthodox University of Saint Sophia-Wisdom.
“As one of the participants aptly said, ‘the ice has moved.’ For the first time since the OCU was established, a meeting of priests of the OCU and the UOC took place in order to exchange views on the present and future. Until now, the clergy of the two Churches never purposefully met to talk about today and tomorrow. It is very important that today here, in the heart of the spiritual life of Ukraine – in Sofia of Kyiv – we have gathered and we thank the clergy of both Churches very much for their openness. This face-to-face conversation is extremely important so that we can continue to build our common home – Ukraine – together,” said Olena Bohdan, head of the ethnopolitics agency.
“It is important that the event took place on the day of memory of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr, and that it took place on the premises of the thousand-year-old Sophia of Kyiv. We all here asked God for wisdom to develop our Kyiv Church, wisdom to overcome the existing divisions, wisdom to serve God and the people of Ukraine. On the pediment of Sophia the following is written: ‘God’s strength and God’s wisdom,’” noted OCU priest Oleksandr Kovalenko.
“We are Ukrainians. We are Orthodox. For us, Christ is a model of unity, peace, love, and understanding. Today we gathered to find points of contact between the clergy of the UOC and the OCU. We represent our parishes and would very much like peace and understanding to reign locally, in our communities, and that the steps towards reconciliation and future unity were visible,” emphasized UOC priest Serhiy Prokopchuk.
“Dialogue is important, it is very important to hear each other out. So today it started, and of course we discussed both the positive things and the things that divide us. But we believe that in the future this meeting and our next meetings will be crowned with success,” said OCU priest Mykhail Omelyan.
“It’s no secret that in the mind of a common man, our Churches – both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – are on different sides of the barricades. For some reason, this is how it is set in the mind of a common man. But we are also here to destroy these stereotypes. After all, there are many prejudices and stereotypes. We are here, first of all, to see in each other a brother in Christ, in order to show the entire Ukrainian society that we are united in our desire to preserve Ukraine, to preserve our faith, and to preserve the one Church. And when we talk today about the future of our Church, we understand what unites us, we understand the challenges facing us. But we also understand that we will overcome everything together with Christ,” emphasized UOC priest Ihor Kovrovsky.