“Responsibility vs Populism”

October 2 - 4, 2019


Responsibility vs Populism is the topic of this year’s Ecumenical Social Week, which was conducted in Lviv for the twelfth time.

The Forum is traditionally initiated by the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, with the support of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv Polytechnic National University, Lviv Regional State Administration, Lviv Regional Council, and Lviv City Council.

Nowadays, Ukraine is at the crossroads of its choice, and the purpose of our Forum is to discuss the subject of Responsibility vs Populism. As Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi said: a Christian is obliged to preserve God’s law not only in private but also in political and public life. Thus, the laity cannot stand aside from the challenges that each society is facing in specific socio-political and historical circumstances. This is especially true for the young generation, which is a criterion for development and a bearer of social relations. Therefore, we proposed to dedicate the 12th Ecumenical Social Week to a discussion of the topic of responsibility towards ourselves and the manifestations of populism. During the Forum, we tried to find answers to these questions: Can Ukrainians be responsible for their actions and realize their dignity? What generates populism? Is it possible for a country to develop without populism?

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Within the framework of the Forum “Responsibility vs Populism,” we organized a series of events with an accent on youth participation because our primary goals are reforming the youth platform, the establishment of communication with young people and consolidation of youth.

The main topic of the Forum reflects the current situation in Ukraine and the world. Forum’s participants could clearly see the causes and consequences of populism, drawing on the opinions of experts and comparing it with real events in the country. The event brought together leading political scientists, intellectuals, spiritual leaders of different denominations and youth, and became a special place for generations meetings, sharing experiences, forming critical thinking and collaboration.

During the Forum, a number of intellectual, artistic and inter-religious activities took place, which made it possible to show this topic from different perspectives and to discuss it with different audiences.

On October 1, to open the ESW on the premises of the Lviv City Council a briefing was held. In the briefing participated Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko, President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at UCU, Lesia Kornat, Head of Department for Nationalities, Religions and Financial Planning of the Lviv Regional State Administration, Petro Zaluha, Head of the Department of Internal Policy of the Lviv City Council and Oksana Ilenkiv, Coordinator of the ESW.

During the briefing, Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko, President of the UCU's Institute of Ecumenical Studies, emphasized: “We are now living in an era where populism and demagogy are coming up. Populism exists when politicians promise what they cannot do (in fact) democratically and thus act irresponsibly. After all, when a populist receives votes in elections, then his populism becomes legal, but still remains irresponsible. That is why it is a challenge for us not to fall victim to such populism. Let us demand from our leaders not to tell us things that are pleasing to us, but to take responsibility for their words and to do in a democratic way all that they promise.”

“As this project has been taking place for 12 years already, it only shows that the topics raised during this Week are extremely relevant. Moreover, these are the topics that society does not always dare to talk about,” – Lesya Kornat, Head of the Department for Nationalities, Religions and Financial Planning of the Lviv Regional State Administration is convinced.

On October 2, the event was traditionally opened with a common prayer of representatives of various denominations and Forum’s participants at the Church of St. Sophia – Wisdom of God. The Divine Liturgy was led by His Excellency Ihor Vozniak, Metropolitan of Lviv of UGCC, in concelebration with the Council of Priests.

Shortly after the Liturfy at the Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi's Center (in the Park Auditorium) were delivered the welcome words from the co-organizers. In particular, the opening of the Week was attended by: Oksana Stelmakh – Temporary Acting Head of the Department of Culture at Lviv City Council, Lesia Kornat – Head of Department for Nationalities, Religions and Financial Planning of the Lviv Regional State Administration, Nazarii Brezitskyi – Entrepreneur, founder of NGO "Idea of ​​the City," Archbishop Ihor Vozniak – Metropolitan of Lviv UGCC, and Fr. Dr. Bohdan Prakh – Rector of UCU. Each speaker emphasized that the topic of populism and responsibility is extremely relevant in the modern world, so they support this event, which is addressing the important issues that are of concern to modern society.

"Populism is when politicians promise something that they cannot do democratically and thus act irresponsibly. There is a challenge here for us not to fall victim to this populism. The second part of our Social Week is strictly ecumenical - a work for the unity of the churches. And our particular challenge for Ukrainians – both Catholics and Orthodox – is the issue of so-called simultaneous communion so that we could be one.

And that is a challenge that we will discuss,” – said the President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko.

Afterwards, an open discussion on "Responsibility VS Populism" began, with experts in various fields:

-         Olha Aivazovska, public figure, chairman of the board of the All-Ukrainian public organization "Public Network “Opora”"

-         Fr. Roman Ostrovskyi, Doctor of Biblical Theology, Vice-Rector of the Kyiv Three-Saints Theological Seminary of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

-         Andrii Saichuk, journalist, TV presenter

-         Taras Semeniuk, political analyst

-         Bishop Olexandr (Drabynko), Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi and Vyshnevskyi, Orthodox Church of Ukraine

-         Joseph Zisels, Executive Vice President of the National Communities Congress of Ukraine, Head of the General Council of the Eurasian Jewish Congress

-         Yurii Pidlisnyi, Head of the Department of Political Sciences, Head of the Ethics-Politics-Economics Program, Doctor of Philosophy

-         Mykhailo Perun, Doctor of Social Sciences, Associate Professor, Department of Theology, UCU

The discussion was moderated by Iryna Kiyanka, Doctor of Political Sciences, Associate Professor at the Lviv Regional Institute of Public Administration of the National Academy under the President of Ukraine.

The participants of the discussion are convinced that populism (as well as corruption) cannot be completely destroyed, it can only be reduced. But this requires developing state institutions, encouraging people to get quality education, nurturing moral values, and "bringing up" their own elite.

"We do not yet understand: what is the Ukraine project in the world? Speaking of strategic planning measures, we need to think: what is Ukraine's mission? What goals does Ukraine set, and not for the sake of the European Union, but herself? Because we did not have this vision, this is probably why every five years we were "thrown," either toward Russia or the EU, and every president took advantage of it.

And this uncertainty provided the ground for the identity crisis, to which we are approaching," – says political analyst, Taras Semeniuk. He adds, because we do not have our own development model, other countries are imposing models at us. In this way appears a basis for the raising of populism.

On Thursday, October 3, an open panel discussion on the “Causes and Consequences of Populism,” moderated by political analyst Taras Semeniuk was held at the Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytskyi Center. Everyone was welcome to join the discussion (and ask questions to the speakers).

In the discussion participated:

- Fr. Pavlo Khud, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Ukrainian Catholic University.

-         Pavlo Smytsniuk, Doctor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University.

-         Roman Solovii, Ukrainian historian, theologian, Doctor of Philosophy, Director of the Eastern European Institute of Theology.

-         Taras Baziuk, editor of the political section at the radio “UA: Ukrainian Radio Lviv”.

“Now we have the phenomenon of "sacralization of power": when a political leader is positioned as a "messiah" and given 'messianic' qualities. Like, he is the only one who can lead us from "darkness" to "light."

We are joining this leader because we are acquiring identity of a "messianic" (saving) community: we are on the side of "light" against such a terrible "darkness." That is why it is important for us as Christians not to sacralize power, in particular - its leaders. It must be understood that any power by its nature is sinful, as is our entire society and human civilization. Therefore, the authorities often use religious imagery and promises, such as the "end of the poverty era." We understand that in one day such an era will not come to an end. It is a religious promise of the pseudo-kingdom of God,” – noted Roman Solovii, Ukrainian historian, theologian, Ph.D., Director of the Eastern European Institute of Theology.

Later he added: “All populist movements use religious slogans and instrumentalize religion. They take it out of spiritual and religious content and use it as political technology, as a marker of identity, through which they reach out to the masses. Therefore, as Christians, we must resist the instrumentalization and use of religion, churches, and Christian communities to achieve completely non-Christian goals. Unfortunately, in Ukrainian society, we see Christian communities and leaders allowing themselves to be used. Therefore, if we talk about the responsibility of society as a whole or at least the responsibility of Christian communities, we should not sacralize power and must not allow ourselves to be used for political purposes. All these religious slogans and appeals to traditional values do not really mean anything to the politicians who appeal to them because it is a means to achieve their political goals.”

In addition, during the discussion, participants shared their views on what populism is: are populism and politics synonymous, a global trend, or a tribute to the historical past; can populists be effective leaders; can we make a responsible politician out of

the populist and vice versa; are we all populists because we are constantly looking for simple solutions; are education and civic activity the cure for populism; how religious communities can respond to populism in the context of the separation of the Church and the state – to these and many other questions speakers of the event were trying to find solutions.

According to the common view of the participants of discussion, populism is not a one-way movement, but above all a two-way communication. There is a politician who promises something; there are people, who (without analyzing) believe and perceive it as a truth, and give the mandate to implement this idea. Later, such a politician "forgets" about his promises and arranges an order that benefits him. In addition, there is a constant need in society to replace "old" politicians with "new" ones, especially before the elections. Because, so to say "old" new faces quickly discredited themselves. However, how long will this trend be actual for new politicians in the current system? The question is open. The speakers of the event believe that it is not possible to completely overcome populism, as a society will still "somehow fall into this temptation."

That is why each of us should be able to take responsibility first and foremost for ourselves and our actions and develop critical thinking.

During the 12th Ecumenical Social Week "Responsibility vs Populism," also an international seminar of the Ukrainian Christian Academic Society "Models of Unity of the Kyivan Church: Towards a Restoration of Communion" was held.Theologians and journalists discussed the issues of unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy after Tomos, the problems faced by the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, analyzed the text of the document itself, including the recognition of the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the conflict on primacy in Orthodoxy, and sought new models of unity, evaluating attempts made in the past.

"In the days of the fight for Tomos, many felt that with the publication of this historic document a unification would happen by itself. Today it has become clear to everyone that instant consolidation will not happen.

Unification processes will take a few years. And real consolidation will take place no sooner than both parties realize the irreversibility of change, will be ready to concede, forgive and seek a joint solution based on compromise," – noted

in his report Bishop Oleksandr Drabynko, Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitskyi and Vyshnevskyi.

Vice-rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary of Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Volodymyr Bureha briefly analyzed the main points of Tomos and summarized: "The conflict between Constantinople and Moscow is not only a conflict concerning Ukraine, it is a deeper conflict about primacy in the Ecumenical Church, an understanding of this primacy and a certain architecture of inter-church relations. And we have to speak out on this. Tomos is not a situational document that is an answer to our internal Ukrainian problems, it is a historical document that fits the Ukrainian question into a wider range of church-wide problems of today."

The participants also had the opportunity to get acquainted with the realities of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), thanks to Serhii Chapnin, a Russian journalist from Moscow, the editor-in-chief of an almanac of contemporary Christian culture, "Dary"(Gifts). "The role of the laity, clergy and part of the episcopate in certain solutions in the ROC is minimal.

Therefore, there is an official opinion of the ROC, which is formulated by one person, and all other opinions are not official. The real life of the Church shifted to the other level – a parish one. We have ceased to understand what is happening at the Church level and have become simply parishioners.

It is the Church of silence, with tens of thousands of clergy, and a large number of parishioners whose voice is not even heard by ourselves. So keep that in mind, the ROC remains a great Church and the Christians in Russia still are present. If these individual voices of the people in the church were formed in one, it would have sounded very loud," – Serhii Chapnin is convinced.

Dr. Ihor Skochylias, Vice-Rector for Academic Work, UCU, during the seminar considered ecclesiastical models of unity, in particular, double communion in a historical context.

Instead, Dr. Pavlo Smytsniuk, Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, briefly outlined 5 models of unity and proposed an asymmetric approach to ecumenical dialogue: "If we wait for others to change, delay our forgiveness until another asks to forgive him, the spiral of unforgiveness will be endless. Today, the ecumenical dialogue has came to a logjam, because of the logic of compromise and reciprocity, a logic of market and exchange prevails. In such situation an asymmetrical approach to dialogue may be a way out. Of course, we must fear self-renunciation but the paschal faith means that giving life for others does not go unanswered by God."

Summarizing the discussion, the President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at UCU, Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko emphasized: "We must speak about the Eucharist of reconciliation. What if we would share this Eucharist in order to draw closer? What if our faithful saw us serving together, it would have an extremely positive impact on them. If we would preach unity, not hatred ... God help us, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters, to address the challenges that Christians of Ukraine face."

During the ESW, a presentation of the book by Metropolitan Olexandr (Drabynko) – "The Ukrainian Church: The Path to Autocephaly" was presented. All the material, which is placed on seven hundred pages of the book, is united by the idea of ​​canonical independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In general, the publication is intended for a wide range of readers – priests, faithful, church and public figures and anyone interested in the problems associated with the processes of independence of the Ukrainian Church. The book was published by the Foundation in Memory of the Blessed Metropolitan Volodymyr and the publishing house “Dukh I Litera.”

The work was presented to the public by the author himself, as well as Fr. Dr. Iwan Dacko (UGCC), President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of UCU, Fr. Georgii Kovalenko (UOC), Rector of the Open Orthodox University of Saint Sophia-Wisdom, and Taras Kurylets, project and program manager of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at UCU, moderated the event.

“The book is heterogeneous and contains materials that represent the events of the autocephalous movement since the beginning of the twentieth century. This is a collection of conference materials, interviews. Recently we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the UAOC restoration in Lviv. In order to talk about the future, we need to know about the past. Thank God the time is changing, we are no longer dependent on the Soviet past, we are living in a time when we create history,” – noted Olexandr (Drabynko), Metropolitan Pereyaslav-Khmelnitskyi and Vyshnevskyi OCU during the presentation.

On October 4, the Ukrainian Catholic University hosted a Good Talk about the value orientations of modern Ukrainian youth. It was a lively discussion during which participants discussed educational projects that educate young people, the importance of knowing history to become good citizens, and the army as a school of life for young Ukrainians.

The meeting was moderated by Zynovii Svereda, Doctor of Social Economics, political scientist, economist. The Good Talk lasted a long time and at ease. Several theses from the speakers: "When we talk about values, we have to understand that this is something extremely important within us, something we are willing to die for, to donate.

Recently, we presented in Kyiv a study about the values ​​and needs of Crimean Tatars in Crimea. It is the value of freedom (as a basic value for the preservation of the people and to feel sufficiently healthy as an organism) and the value of security. It is a question of survival and moral pressure at the occupied territories. Crimean Tatars now have the adverb "Live in Crimea." Very important for us is still the issue of identity, the preservation of language, religion, tradition, while closing in ourselves. Because our seclusion can lead to self-isolation, it is a huge challenge for both Crimean Tatars and hundreds of pro-Ukrainian residents of Crimea. Now the values ​​of security and self-survival prevail for the people at the occupied territories,” – said Alim Aliyev, program director of the Crimean House.

Roman Tychkivskyi, Head of the Economic Leadership Program of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund, founder of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, spoke about the education of young people through non-formal education. “It depends on the person's experience, education or upbringing how that person expresses himself.

I believe in the institutional system approach of educational projects that are capable to cover the state on a large scale. I believe in what we do in terms of non-formal education, being a satellite of the formal education system and incorporating some elements into formal education, which naturally changes more slowly than the

informal one. We ourselves manage what we do, and at the same time, we see that it really works. As we change young people, we change their parents and together we create a community that we want to see at the level of a whole society. We have to work on a larger scale, we must understand that the Ukrainian Catholic University, the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership, the Ostroh Academy, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the Black Sea National University of Petro Mohyla in Mykolayiv, etc., are not enough. We are not enough to change Ukrainian society. Quite often we do not communicate with each other or close ourselves in our environment.

We are not aggressive enough to cover other fields of activity because we should have been led by this enlightenment mission to reach as far as possible. That is why we, as the Ukrainian Leadership Academy, focus primarily on young people, so that they do not leave the country but see the challenges that are here as an opportunity to realize themselves, so that young people would be warriors – personalities on the road to victory.

We, in fact, lack such people on the side of good. Let us be warriors, each one of us, to bear this good, that at the end it may win.”

“History is an opportunity: by being simply interested in the past, to become good citizens. History enables us to understand people's reactions. We always try to give a voice to those who for some reason do not speak, and to strengthen the voices that help us to be strong, to be Ukrainians.”

Ukrainian journalist, historian, editor-in-chief of the “Historical Truth” project, Vakhtanh Kipiani also noted the importance of understanding historical processes. Fr. Dr. Bohdan Prakh spoke about the Ukrainian Catholic University,which is

always at the peak of Ukrainian universities, and its values: “Today young people need leaders, we needed more moral authority. It seems to me that today the youth is not very receptive to the authorities, does not want to see them, but wants to see the leaders. We need to understand this in order to be able to communicate with them and to convey our, human, and Christian values, so that they would live in their hearts. The young people from different parts of Ukraine with different acquired traditions and values come to us. The big challenge for us is to keep them coming to us. When we have them, we must witness our values so much that they would become the authority to them, as we see them, and become for them a leader, as they want to see it. If our teachers and the rectorate would cease in witnessing – the university will be empty the next day. We care about it, think about it and pray for it. As a university, we are ready to serve in different formats to those environments that feel able and need to join our environment.We hope that other environments that are being created will seek to unite in their search for ways to shape our youth. Now we switched to a different way of working with young people, seeking contact and dialogue with their parents. Maybe it's too late. However, these are families where something valuable and important is being created. What we are doing is giving an example of something different, that in our circumstances we can do differently. There is no need to fear corruption, it has its roots only in mentality, nowhere else. When we are coming out with a pure heart, we will live in absolute purity,” – says Fr. Dr. Bohdan Prakh.

Fr. Andrii Zelinskyi told about the values as survival, the task of education and the importance of the army. “The military service must be a school of life, because it is a powerful large-scale social institution through which, under a formal call, a large segment of the Ukrainian population passes. Therefore, the quality of Ukrainian society depends on what values are articulated in the military service.

Tomorrow we will forget about heroes unless we transform the experience into certain mechanisms. Memory is more than a memorial service, a carnation flower and a candle. Memory should be a strategy for personal and social transformation. To do this, we need values – articulated social mechanisms.

When a person understands why he is doing something, when he sees the value valence of what he is doing, the sence protects him from stress, from the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. It's right not just for the military service. This is actual for the country, for the people who experienced the Maidan and are experiencing the war. Values ​​are a matter of survival for us today. The task of education is limited not only to the knowledge-sharing function. In state policy, the task of education is to interpret reality. Education must interpret, science must acquire. When education begins to interpret, it offers us a shared collective value field. This is crucial for overcoming any disorders, asocial syndromes.

A person always needs a sense in order to overcome any disorder. In order to overcome internal chaos, we require value orientations. We need corrections – clear values, mechanisms of their articulation, ideals that will help us not lose our humanity," – said the military chaplain, teacher of the Ethics-Politics-Economics program, co-founder of the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership Fr. Andrii Zelinskyi.

Within the 12th Ecumenical Social Week “Responsibility vs Populism,” a charity auction “Belief in Life” was held. Women – Ukrainian public figures created these

papercuttings during a master class under the guidance of well-known artist Dariia Alioshkina. Later, they were exhibited in the lobby of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky's Center. And on the third day of the Forum, papercuttings were sold at the charity auction. The event was attended by both the performers themselves and those who wanted to buy these works of art and thus help prematurely born children. All the money received at the auction, namely 42,000 UAH, was donated to help the prematurely born children, who are being taken care of by the CF “Nemovlia” (Baby).

"We held this event as a part of the 12th Ecumenical Social Week “Responsibility vs Populism.” Today the participants showed a clear example of responsibility. After all, they helped to extend the life of young children,” – noted Oksana Ilenkiv, Coordinator of the Forum.

Among the authors of papercuttings are: Oksana Yurynets, Ukrainian politician (People's Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the 8th convocation), scientist, public figure; Olha Kuzmenko, mother of Andrii Kuzmenko (Scriabin); Oksana Vynnytska-Yusypovych, Honorary Consul of Canada in Ukraine; Nataliia Buchynska, People's Artist of Ukraine; Olha Filatova-Kryvetska, founder of the Edem Resort Medical and SPA; Olena Zablotska, dentist at the Zablotskyi Clinic; Andriana Malska, co-founder of the Healthy Children Charitable Foundation, Khrystyna Berehovska, an art critic; Nataliia Klymovska, Vice-Rector for Development and Communications of UCU and others.

It was the final event of the 12th Ecumenical Social Week. It was attended by about 500 participants from Ukraine and abroad, including representatives of public, cultural and religious organizations, charitable foundations, educators, youth, leading political scientists and intellectuals, journalists and theologians.


General sponsor of Ecumenical social week -  Foundation Renovabis