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Lviv Calls Reconciliation a Direct Duty

04 December, 00:00

According to the press secretary of the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Lviv’s city administration has held a second symbolic Day of Unity jointly with representatives of all local religious communities. This time it was under the motto, Building Ukraine with Love.

A month ago Cardinal Liubomyr Huzar, head of the UGCC, sent letters to the priests and congregations of Lviv, calling for a most active participation in the Day of Unity. “This day of reconciliation,” reads his letter, “must become a day of purification for us all, a day of forgiveness, because this is the only way for us to become free and return the equality to our relations with our fellow people.”

The festivities began with church bells ringing and divine services throughout Lviv. In the evening numerous religious leaders gathered by the City Hall to shake hands and voice their views in front of a large crowd of residents and guests to the city.

After Mayor Vasyl Kuibida’s opening address, Cardinal Huzar took the floor, followed by Metropolitan Andriy Horak (Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church — Kyiv Patriarchate), Bishop Makariy Meletych (Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church), Auxiliary Bishop Stanislav Padeyevsky of the Lviv Archbishopric of the Roman Catholic Church, Rev. Volodymyr Sharabura (Ukrainian Orthodox Church — Moscow Patriarchate), clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Good Samaritan Mission, Evangelical Christians, Christian Baptists, rabbis of the Judaic and Progressive Judaic, Muslim, and Hare Krishna communities.

After that a solemn procession started from downtown, stopping by the statues of King Danylo Halytsky, the Mother of God, and Taras Shevchenko. The celebration reached its peak when bread was ceremoniously broken on a platform in front of the Lviv Opera. With the words peace be with you people representing all religions and local religious communities of Lviv gave each other a kiss of peace. Cardinal Huzar declared, “We cannot make peace all over the world, but reconciliation in this city is our direct duty. God willing, such Days of Unity will become a tradition here, yielding greater fruit each time.”

Lviv’s action of interdenominational and interfaith reconciliation, described in the UGCC press release, cannot be overestimated. Many centuries of world experience show that peace among the churches can be secured only by the churches themselves, for any efforts by state authorities, political parties, or prominent lay figures prove inevitably futile. Unfortunately, it is also true that the bulk of the faithful do not always join such actions, but only because there are parish priests and bishops that have just set foot on the road leading to peace, a road threatened by so many perils.

Once I read a notice above the entrance to a German church: “The doors of this temple are open to all.” May the doors of all Ukrainian houses of God stay open wide for each and all who want to enter.

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