Opening of the Forum “Diversity and Respect”

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Respecting Gender diversity: a goal or a utopia for Christian Churches today?

It is a honor and a privilege for me to participate in the 6th ecumenical social week, which brings together Christians from different parts of Ukraine and Europe.

I am an Orthodox theologian, from Greece, a country which is increasingly becoming a multi-cultural and multi-faith, a fact which we endeavor to understand and embrace, but not always without difficulty. The country faces one of the most serious crisis in its history, experiences unemployment amongst the youth, economic instability, poverty, social and gender discriminations, drug abuse, violence and corruption in places of power and authority. This situation is calling the Orthodox Church of Greece and other Christian denominations for witness and social action and opens urgently the theological discussion on themes such as: Church/ State relations, the question of violence, corruption and discrimination (even in within the Church), the role of religious formation and education, the need for historical and theological research in order to re-evaluate the Orthodox/ church diakonia/service, the role and the influence of the Church in the public sphere, the content of its word etc.

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Department of Education, Oikos, Netherlands

Round-table “From confrontation to complementarity: Ukrainian context, European experience”

October 2, 2014

How to contribute to mutual respect? A reflection from a European background

Making the point that I am a European citizen doesn’t work as a strong reference for being good in expressing respect. Our history doesn’t provide a long list of examples of respect. Or in other words: it provides very many opportunities to take out some learning’s from our past. As part of that learning a colleague of mine in Northern Ireland and I were the key-developers of the methodology “Dialogue for Peaceful Change” (DPC). This method is recognised as useful and fruitful in many countries in the world, like Ghana, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and definitely also in the Netherlands. And also in Northern Ireland – the place were Protestants and Catholics have a history of confrontation, fights, murders, civil war. The Netherlands were also involved there since in 1690 King William III – with a Dutch background - fought in Ireland and won a battle. Now every July this battle is memorised in marshes in several places in Northern Ireland – and at these moments tensions between the two groups are made visible again.
Our DPC-method is also applied in the United States, where it was integrated with the concept of the High Performing Community in Antioch, California. I can’t go into detail about our work there – but the important effect is that many youth went out of youth-gangs groups, which were killing each other. After our intervention young men and women went back to school – leaving the gangs and going for a better future. Staying in the gangs would imply the chance that they would have been killed in the next 10 years to more than 50%.

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Archbishop, Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine

Opening of the Forum “Diversity and Respect”

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Respect for Legitimate Differences: The Catholic Agenda

One of the truly positive characteristics of UCU and its family, including the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, is their ability to make work seem enjoyable. I am sure old Aesop has a fable to illustrate this skill, but given my own background, what comes to mind is Mark Twain’s account in his classic novel of Tom Sawyer tricking the boys of a Saturday morning into whitewashing the fence in his place.
My special greetings to those who have succumbed to the invitation of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies to come and work this week and my best wishes to all for a fruitful sixth edition of the Ecumenical Social Week here in Lviv!
This Opening ceremony bears the title: Otherness as a Gift: Challenges of Modernity in Europe and Ukraine. Truth to be told, I find this title questionable, as it reminds me of my years in Berlin at the beginning of this 21st century and the application of the expression “multikulti” (multicultural) to almost everything from pickup football games in the park of a Sunday, to block parties with potluck supper, to summer street carnivals. Reveling in differences in and of themselves hardly seems to be of value: once you have discovered that no two snowflakes are alike, it is pretty well safe to get on with life. With people, the simple fact of being different, tall/short, fat/skinny, smart/not so smart, hardly seems important; being different is a given, the gift of which must perforce lie elsewhere.

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Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt

Panel: “Social Consequences of Women’s Work Migrations”

October 3


From Euro-Migrants to Euro-Orphans: Migrant Women and the denial of Good Motherhood

My lecture is concerned with the public debates in many Eastern European sending countries entailing moral outrage about migrant parents who leave their children behind. These children are referred to in a variety of ways depending on the country of origin, such as ‘children left behind’, ‘home alone children’, ‘abandoned children’ (Romania), ‘social orphans’ (Ukraine) or ‘Euro-orphans’ (Poland), and ‘white orphans’ (Moldavia). The topic is hotly debated in most of the sending countries, but can also be found in international newspapers.

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Former Director "Reforming Social Services: Canada-Ukraine Project"

Round-table “Initiative from within the community as a factor in considering differences and achieving respect in the establishment of civil society" 

October 3 

Welcoming Remarks

Thank you for the opportunity to welcome you to the 2013 version of Ecumenical Social Week and this Roundtable discussion on community initiatives in developing civil society.  Although I cannot be present in person, I trust that through my words as spoken to you by my close friend and colleague, Dr. Nina Hayduk, you will know that I am with you in spirit.  I have tremendous respect for the contributions each of you has made to connect the community to the university.  I also want you to know that the significance of this is recognized by all of my colleagues who participated in the Reforming Social Services: Canada-Ukraine Project both during the project phase from 1999 to 2003, and then in the decade that has followed since 2003.  Community-university partnerships are integral to building a viable civil society which respects diversity, builds on strengths and needs, and supports all citizens in realizing their potential. 

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