UGCC Head - Yanukovych: “We are, were, and will be with our people”

   The Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), described the meeting of the members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) with President Yanukovych. On the air of Hromadske TV, the Prelate emphasized: “It is the conviction of AUCCRO members that only when we place as an absolute priority the inadmissibility of a civil war, forced demonstrations and the preservation of peace, can we proceed to the next steps”.
Today AUCCRO explains its participation in the events in Ukraine as a purely peacemaking activity. According to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, sometime earlier, AUCCRO members had declared that they planned to be the mediators between the politicians and the citizens. “Now, we have decided to deal as mediators and peacemakers. In a communiqué previously published we had censured all who broke God’s commandment “Thou shall not kill” and openly asked for a meeting with the President and the representatives of the opposition,” explained UGCC Prelate. He stated that today the first meeting was held with Yanukovych and tomorrow, on January 25th, there is a meeting planned with the opposition representatives.
The meeting with President Yanukovych was attended by all members of AUCCRO. Each member had a chance to address the President and express his concern about events in Ukraine.
In particular, UGCC Head emphasized some of the painful aspects which UGCC pastors have encountered.
“First of all, I emphasized the fact that we are, were, and will continue to be with our people. During the last two months we were present not only on the Maidan with our people, but also, one can say, we have struggled to earn our right to be there. Today all understand that the presence of the clergy is very important for appeasing those people and preserving a peaceful protest as such. We attempt to serve our people with everything which we only can. We opened our churches in order to welcome them and to permit them to warm up as needed,” he said.
The Church Head informed Yanukovych that in carrying out their pastoral services, UGCC priests become witnesses of the fact that there are many wounded who are afraid to turn to Kyiv hospitals for assistance because the mere fact of being wounded is interpreted by law enforcing agents as proof of a crime. Therefore, people simply have no place to go.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav related to Yanukovych the story of one boy who after losing an eye was forced to jump from the second floor of a hospital to escape the police who came for the wounded. “I said, Mr. President, this is not normal. These people should have access to medical care. Besides that, the mere fact of having a wound should not be qualified as a proof or a crime,” noted the Prelate.
Secondly, stated the Church Head to the President, “UGCC prison chaplains cannot gain access to those who were arrested due to the events on Hrushevsky St. because for some reason they are “under extremely severe guard.”
“Unfortunately, I did not hear a clear answer from the President about these concerns but it was said that those who did not commit serious crimes, should be freed. We shall see how much this will be realized,” added His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
They also talked with Yanukovych about killings and torture which was undertaken by Berkut, especially about the torture of Maykhailo Havryliak who was captured and totally undressed in the frigid frost. “The President said that this was undignified, this cannot be done, but that it is an answer of violence against violence,” narrated UGCC Head.
In reply to the questions of journalists whether Yanukovych heard the religious leaders, His Beatitude replied “I think that sincerity has to be tested by actions.”
We remind all that AUCCRO held its external meeting on January 22nd, Independence Day in Ukraine. During the meeting AUCCRO members saw that BTR was headed to the European Square… On that day people were also killed.
AUCCRO is a community organization which unites 90% of all religious communities in Ukraine.


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