Summary of the Second Ecumenical Social Week in Lviv

From October 5-11, the Second Ecumenical Social Week took place in Lviv. This event was a forum for the exchange of thoughts and ideas among Ukrainian and foreign political actors, religious leaders and representatives of the social sector. As Andriy Sadovyi, head of the Lviv City Council, stated, “the message of this Week is Social Responsibility. We need to learn to be responsible for those who are near to us. We have high expectations for the ESW. This initiative will move forward from Lviv.” This thought was also supported by Kateryna Yushchenko, the Chairman of the Board of the International Charitable Foundation Ukraine 3000. She is convinced that the ESW should become a Ukraine-wide event, at which social organizations from throughout the country could gather.

One of the major themes of this year’s ESW was “Healing the wounds of the past.” Antoine Arjakovsky, the director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies and co-director of the ESW stated that both Ukrainian and foreign guests recognized the particular importance and relevance of this theme for Ukrainians today. Participants spoke about the necessity of knowing the past for the sake of the future. In particular, speaking about genocide, Kateryna Yushchenko stated, “In these horrific years, the elite of the nation perished: scholars, politicians, the clergy, artists, those who worked the land, writers, musicians, kobzars. This was a real genocide. I often imagine what Ukraine could be like today if these terrible events had never happened. How many masterpieces could our artists have created, those artists who were united by history under the name “the executed renaissance.” What heights could our scholarship have reached. Historical data tells us that during 1933 alone 1649 scholars were erased from scholarly work because of political accusations. Hard-working, benevolent Ukrainians with sincere souls and strong traditions could today have been an agrarian nation that would feed all of Europe. If it weren’t for the war, the Holodomor, the repression, there could perhaps have been nearly 75 million of us, instead of 46.”

The next theme that was accented was “The development of social projects in cooperation with Western and Central Europe.” Three foreign charitable organizations – Communicantes (Netherlands), Kerk in Actie (Netherlands) and Renovabis (Germany) – expressed their willingness to support Ukrainian social projects.

New legislation on percentage philanthropy and on the support of nonprofit organizations by legal entities, which were prepared by the Expert Commission of the ESW over the course of the previous year, were praised and supported by Ukrainian politicians. “The prime minister supports the idea of such legislation. To hasten its acceptance, we need to get a group of deputies to work on it,” stated Stepan Kurpil, National Deputy from BYuT.

Antoine Arjakovsky, speaking about the first results of the Second Ecumenical Social Week, noted that this event is already fulfilling its role as a forum for meeting and exchanging of experience. And the participants could see this, particularly during the Forum of Social Organizations – people were immediately exchanging contact information in order to work together, gaining experience from one another.