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WCC acting general secretary in Ukraine: “We came here to show our solidarity”

During the recent solidarity visit in Ukraine, a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation has met with various state institutions working with religious issues, listening and learning from the victims of the ongoing war and asking for support in giving permission to the members of the delegation of Ukrainian Churches to leave the country and attend the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe.

The Office of the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Affairs and Freedom of Conscience has recently reported that at least 183 religious sites in 14 regions of Ukraine are fully or partly ruined by the aggressive attack of the Russian Federation. Those include churches, mosques, synagogues, educational, and administrative buildings of Ukraine’s religious communities, destroyed between 24 February and 23 July 2022.

During the visit, the WCC delegation met also with Oleksandr Tkachenko, minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, who emphasized that the current war is a fight against Ukrainian identity, which includes all religious communities in Ukraine.

Tkachenko also informed that Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine has appealed to 150 international organisations in the world to suspend the Russian participation in them while Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues, and asked if the WCC could do the same.

“The World Council of Churches was founded to foster dialogue between churches who are not in agreement between themselves,” said Sauca during the meeting. “Therefore we aim not to exclude, but to challenge our members to work for justice and peace.” The central committee, the WCC governing body which met in July this year debated in depth the proposal of suspension which came from some churches and concluded in unanimity that the WCC should continue keeping its identity of an open platform where churches meet and challenge one another, looking for ways of reconciliation and healing based on just peace.

Hearing the WCC perspectives and approach, Tkachenko asked that an adequate number of Ukrainians be included as participants at the WCC assembly so that they speak for themselves about the situation and realities in Ukraine today.

Oleksiy Dniprov, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine participated in the meeting of the WCC delegation and with the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, and conveyed thanks to Sauca for the response to the appeal of First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and for all the statements of support issued by the WCC.

In a conversation with Dniprov, Sauca asked Office of the President of Ukraine to support the participation of representatives of Ukraine at the WCC 11th Assembly, granting the permission for the delegated participants to leave Ukraine for the gathering of the global WCC fellowship in Karlsruhe.

In all of the meetings, Sauca emphasized the importance of participation of Ukraine churches at the upcoming WCC 11th assembly, which will be an opportunity for people of Ukraine to address the global WCC fellowship, sharing and praying together for an end of the war and re-establishment of just peace in Ukraine.

The WCC delegation visited Ukraine on 1-5 August to meet with the representatives of local churches and state institutions to ensure the participation of the Ukraine’s churches at the upcoming WCC assembly in Karlsruhe.

During the visit, Sauca was accompanied by Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, deputy general secretary of the WCC and director of the Commission on Faith and Order; and Ivars Kupcis, WCC communication officer.

Source: World Council of Churches