Monday, June 4, 2018
picture by Petar Milošević / CC BY-SA 4.0
From May 29th to May 31st the international conference "The Christian Perspective of a United Europe: Roots and the Future" was held in the conference hall of the Irena Hotel in Lviv, Ukraine. The event gathered about fifty participants from three European countries.
The conference was preceded by a presentation of Jeff Fountain’s book "Deeply Rooted" about the Christian roots of the modern European Union, which took place at the Sheptytsky Center of the Ukrainian Catholic University on May 28, 2018. Both events were initiated by the Foundation for the Assistance of Democratic Initiatives and Sallux Foundation in cooperation with the Svichado Publishing House.
Jeff Fountain, author of the book and director of the Robert Schuman Center for European studies, talked in his speech about what inspired him to write “Deeply Rooted”. He outlined the main principles of the European Union. In particular, he believes that most of the issues the modern EU is facing are due to the fact that the current generation of European politicians, those who influence the decision-making, are part of the "1968 revolution" generation. They did not know the horrors of the Second World War and exactly for this reason the principles of a united Europe were implemented by the Founding Fathers of the EU: Robert Schumann and Konrad Adenauer who are incomprehensible to them.
His position was supported by Bogdan Pankevych, a civic activist, a member of the Ukrainian Galician Party, a member of the Nestor Group. Throughout his speeches during the conference he emphasized the catastrophic effects on the European community if Christian principles fade out. Only a return to the roots could give hope for the preservation and development of the EU.
In regard to how Christian values combine with Ukrainian politics, he explained what should occur as Christian practice, naming the essence to embody God's principles in daily practice.
Thereafter, director of the Religious Information Service of Ukraine (RISU) Taras Antoshevskyi spoke about the prospects of Christian democracy in Ukraine. Thenceforth a member of the Board of the Association of Christian Lawyers Andriy Gnidets spoke as well about his vision of how Christian values and real politics can be combined.
A remarkable report was also made by the director of the Sallux Foundation (The Netherlands), Johannes de Jong, who described how Christian values affect a true European policy as well as the need for a broad civil movement that unites civic activists, who profess Christian values. He also initiated the practical work of the conference participants in groups, during which the participants developed several interesting approaches regarding the introduction of Christian principles in Ukrainian politics. His colleague from the Netherlands, Christiaan Meinen, spoke about his experience of civic activism as a practicing Christian.
Well-known Christian pastor of Donetsk, Sergiy Kosyak told about his story when he was confronted with the manifestations of anti-Christian propaganda and destructive phenomena in the occupied territories. He was suffering from captivity for his convictions at that time. He gave practical examples of how the Word of God helped him and his associates survive, how he managed to save the lives of innocents and examples of how hostile the state and the propaganda of the Russian occupiers acted. His thesis that the first and most reverent separatists is Satan, caused the lively emotions of the participants of the event.
All speeches and reports were accompanied by lively and meaningful discussions, attended by various civic, political and religious figures, analysts, experts and journalists. Among others those of Bohdan Galayko, director of the Institute of Ukrainian Studies, analyst Yevhen Zherebetskyi, Professor Maryan Zhitaryuk, Rev. Oleg Kobel, Professor Eugene Bilonozhko, Ph.D. Oksana Gorkusha.
The conference participants presented their own projects, specifically expert Yuriy Oliynyk presented the activities of the Ukrainian Research of Strategic Studies Center, Oksana Gorkusha - the book "Maidan and the Church" by Bogdan Berezenko – latest activity of publishing house "Bratske".
The outcome of the conference was an agreement to continue cooperation in the format of creating a broad civic movement of people who profess Christian values. The moderator of the process will be the Foundation for the Assistance of Democratic Initiatives in cooperation with the Sallux Foundation.