Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine

 

Academic conference: “The Ukrainian cooperative movement”

«Models of social policy in Ukraine and their incorporation into the work of Ukrainian churches»

June, 12

 

Your Eminences, Your Excellences, Dear Guests,

It is a pleasure to take part in the inauguration of the first Ecumenical Social Week in Ukraine, initiated by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Lviv City Government, the Lviv Regional Government, and the Lviv Regional Parliamentary Assembly.

This initiative has received the blessing of His Eminence Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; I am glad that in a moment you will hear his words of welcome, delivered by Flaminia Giovanelli. I am also glad that Secours Catholique of France has provided significant support to the organization of this initiative. I rejoice that all the heads of the Christian Churches present in Lviv, as well as the World Council of Churches in Geneva, have given their support to this essential undertaking.

My dear friends, the Church has always sought ways to apply Christ’s commandments concerning love of one’s neighbor both to personal spiritual formation and to the social realm. Throughout the centuries, the Church, both Eastern and Western, has amassed a treasure-trove of experience in this area.

Recently, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which presents the teaching of the Church over the last several centuries, has been translated and published in Ukrainian. The Compendium was published through the efforts of the Kairos publishing house as well as the Justice and Peace Commission of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. In this essential book, which has recently been presented in Lviv and in Kyiv by Cardinal Martino, one can discover a doctrine that could be summarized by the following 10 fundamental principles:

1. the dignity of the human person ; 2. respect for human life; 3. the principle of free association; 4. the principle of social participation; 5. preferential option for the poor and the vulnerable; 6. the principle of solidarity; 7. the principle of subsidiarity; 8. the principle of equality among people, 9. the principle of the common good; 10. the principle of the universal destination of goods and private property.

It is not my task today to explain and develop these principles. It is, rather, the goal of this Ecumenical Social Week to present them before a broad public and to show that there is today a growing consensus about them. Mssrs. Jean-Marie Brunot and Michel Camdessus will present to you the movement history of the Social Weeks, and the main issues with which modern Christian social thought is concerned. For my part, I am convinced that in a country like Ukraine, with such a rich history connected to the blossoming of Christianity, there is great potential for developing the principles of the social doctrine of the Churches.

The 20th century has been a time of ideologies, of men without God; but it was also the century in which the Social Weeks were born in France. The great tragedies of the 20th century all have to do with forgetting about “divinized humanity” – a term dear to the hearts of the great Orthodox thinkers. The cause of this forgetfulness has perhaps been the fact that Christians were not sufficiently attentive to that which is essential for Christianity in a historical period as complex and dramatic as the last century had been.

But God is faithful and always close to His people. If we too remain faithful to his voice, which speaks to us both in the intimate dialogue of spiritual life and in our dialogue with society, we will be able to understand the final truth about man, about society and history, the truth that consists in the Gospel’s surprising definition: that God is Love.