6th Ecumenical Social Week

“Diversity and Respect”

Lviv, October 1-8, 2013

For six years the Ecumenical Social Week, initiated by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies with the support of the Ukrainian Catholic University, National University “Lviv Polytechnic,” Lviv Regional State Administration, Lviv Regional Council and Lviv City Council, has gathered in Lviv representatives of churches, NGOs, the media, politicians, diplomats, teachers, officials and youth around topical issues and today’s challenges. Over eight days, the participants of the ESW discussed issues of respect for differences in Ukrainian society, based on international and domestic experience. During the presentations and discussions at various meetings and roundtables, special attention was paid to issues of social, cultural and religious diversity among people. International speakers shared with the participants a reflection of how differences enrich European countries and how this experience can be useful for Ukraine.

Feeling responsible for the destiny of Ukrainian society and striving so that the fruit of discussions serve the public welfare, the participants of the ESW appealed to the authorities, Churches, NGOs and all people with the following resolution.

Noting the progress that occurred in the dialogue among divided Christians during recent decades, the participants of the ESW encourage bishops and believers of different religions:

- not to look for power, money and domination but unity for the fulfilment of the Covenant of Christ “that they may all be one” (John 17:21);

- to treat others with Christian love and tolerance, rejecting the spirit of pride and indifference to the tragedy of separation;

- to promote the education of deep theologians, experts in the sources of the Christian tradition, ready for dialogue with brothers and sisters of other denominations;

- to promote dialogue among the denominations in Ukraine.

Noting with regret that since the independence of Ukraine many opportunities to improve the cultural, economic and social state of society have been wasted, we appeal:

- to start the mechanism of the Rule of Law in Ukraine;

- to take all possible measures to repress corruption in government at all levels, medical and educational establishments.

Feeling worried about mass labour migration of our citizens, especially women, we express our hope that the government:

- will manage to create the proper conditions for all citizens of Ukraine, especially for women and young professionals;

- will introduce an effective program to support our compatriots abroad and facilitate their return to their motherland;

- will activate the process of mutual recognition of documents on education between Ukraine and the EU countries.

Stating with regret that, due to the current political and economic instability in Ukraine the government cannot pay proper attention to social issues, we encourage the public:

- to understand that “Inclusion” (the process of “including” socially vulnerable groups of people in an active social life) is primarily a personal interpretation of a model of a society with social values. However, to demand that the government make this “understanding” law, we have to work on it by ourselves. To do this, each person should:

ü  respect others and see her/himself in others;

ü  trust, but this is possible only after some period of time and as the personal decision of each individual;

and:

- consolidate the efforts of all government branches, NGOs, churches to form a socially responsible society;

- give opportunity to people who are alienated from society because of their mental disabilities, physical disabilities, or social status to integrate into society, get an education, to create and thus to nurture self-esteem and values ​​in their lives;

- provide necessary support for individuals, NGOs and social workers who work with socially vulnerable groups for the effective performance of their obligations.

Recognizing the special role of youth in building a society of justice and welfare, we appeal to the authorities and public organizations:

- to do their best so that young people can be brought up in a spirit of justice, freedom, mutual respect, ethnic and religious tolerance;

- to care for quality improvement and the internationalization of education ensuring equal access to education for all citizens, promoting the development of university autonomy;

- to organize the educational process under the principle that young people would receive not only knowledge and specific skills, but also learn to think critically and to be socially responsible.

Welcoming the efforts of the Ukrainian government towards European integration, we ask the state authorities at all levels:

- to go the way of real, not declarative European integration, remembering that no pro-European rhetoric but real reforms to improve the lives of ordinary people rather than individuals or corporations are able to make Ukraine a prosperous European state;

- to be vigilant so that ideas of European integration could not compromise the cultural and religious identity of our people.

Realizing that the EU largely was the result of dialogue, reconciliation and cultural exchange among European citizens, the participants of the ESW appeal to the governments of Ukraine and the EU Member States and the heads of the European institutions:

- to promote the abolition of the visa regime for Ukraine, which essentially creates a new “Berlin Wall” in Eastern Europe, not supporting the establishment of inter-cultural dialogue among the peoples of Europe;

- to support cultural and economic exchanges between Ukrainians, in particular young people, and citizens of EU member states.

The Ecumenical Social Week “Diversity and Respect” showed examples of effective communication and manifested the consolidation of efforts of the community around the most important issues in Ukrainian society.