The Second Ecumenical Social Week in Lviv Has Begun

The ceremonial opening of the Second Ecumenical Social Week, whose slogan was “Social Responsibility,” was held on October 5 at the Lviv City Hall. Welcomes were given by the organizers of the Week: the head of the Lviv Oblast Administration Mykola Kmit; the head of the Lviv Oblast Council Myroslav Senyk; Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi; Rector of Ukrainian Catholic University Fr. Borys Gudziak; Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies Antoine Arjakovsky; and Magdalena Bogner, board member of the Renovabis foundation.
As Fr. Borys Gudziak said, if such social weeks are important in France, in Germany, or in Poland, then in Lviv and in Ukraine the urgency of this need is obvious. “We have the opportunity to be a unique laboratory for encountering the needs of our neighbors and taking on very concrete questions, for the social fabric of Ukraine and Ukrainian life was torn and deformed. Today the most important thing is openness to one another and to God.”
“We have great expectations for the ESW. This initiative will move forth from Lviv. We need to learn to be responsible for those who are near us. This is the message of this Week – ‘social responsibility,’” stated Andriy Sadovyi.
Magdalena Bogner, a representative of the main sponsor of the event, the Renovabis foundation, believes that in Ukraine the social elite is faced with the critical task of realizing their social responsibility, just as all of us are called, depending on our individual capabilities, to find solidarity with the “weak” members of society and the disadvantaged. This means concrete love for our neighbors, mercy, and active participation towards creating a just system.
Later, as Vice President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Magdalena Bogner recounted the experience of organizing social weeks in Germany: how a community, particularly an association of Catholics, can influence the political and economic situation not only in their own country, but also throughout the European Union. “The Ecumenical Week is a building forum for ecumenism,” she stressed. “Our goal is to be Christian witnesses in society.”
Also emphasizing the importance of the ESW in Lviv was Antoine Arjakovsky: “As I took part in the organization of this Social Week, I can attest that we are all striving to act together to defend human dignity in Ukrainian society, and particularly in the most vulnerable branches of the population, such as the elderly, the handicapped, or those with drug or alcohol dependencies. A responsible society is a society in which the Church remembers its spiritual origins, as the Apostle Paul says.”
The role of the Church in solving social problems was also accented by Archbishop Ivan Yurkovych, whose message of greeting was read to the participants: “Our cooperation is necessary in both the economic and legal spheres, so that the international society and individual countries could work out and implement coordinated decisions in accordance with the teachings of the Church, with morality and human dignity, directed towards the solving of problems, and could create an effective legal base for economic activity.”
To conclude the first day of the Week, Natalya Fedorovych, a member of the Expert Commission of the 2nd ESW, announced the Declaration of Intentions, which confirms the introduction of legislation on percentage philanthropy.