Kremlin uses Christianity for political goals, says Catholic leader in Ukraine


Eastern Europe


Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galicia Sviatoslav Shevchuk. Photo EPA, Balazs Mohai

Churches and Christians must live by Christian values and not allow politicians to preach the Christian idea in the modern world because they tarnish it. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) says so in an interview with Ukrinform.

This reports Religion in Ukraine.

Asked whether he sees a threat because the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is claiming the role of global spiritual leader, focusing on the power of Russia, Supreme Archbishop Sviatoslav says he does not see "the truth of these beliefs".

"I will not talk about the role of the Russian Orthodox Church, which this Church claims. But are traditional Christian values the foundation of the Russian Federation's policy?" the church leader asks. "If we delve into the postulates that underlie Russia's geopolitical considerations and movements, these postulates are quite different from the postulates of Christian values. What is happening is the instrumentalisation of so-called Christian values for political purposes; obviously, this is motivated by certain political goals."

The UGCC is a church that outwardly looks like the Orthodox Church, but is part of the Roman Catholic Church. The UGCC is mainly present in the west of Ukraine and is said to have 4.2 million members.


Svyatoslav recalls that Russia uses such propaganda models of opposition not for the first time on Christian values. He can very well imagine how this debate about the European aspirations of the Ukrainian people "ran into the propaganda model that Europe was said to be de-Christianizing, while the Russian world meant preserving traditional values." That is, "either you stay with Russia, or you lose your Christian values." It was an entirely artificial opposition of Christian and European identities.

Svyatoslav stressed that the Church cannot entrust the task of preserving and bringing spiritual meanings into the hands of politicians, nor can it allow them to be "instrumentalised" to achieve political goals that are entirely contrary to declarations about Christianity and its values.

When a Church in the modern world wants the state to play the role of propagandist or custodian of Christian values, it will destroy such a Church, Sviatoslav thinks. "We, as Churches and Christians, must take up the work ourselves, live by these values ourselves and not allow politicians to preach the Christian idea in the modern world because they –one way or another– tarnish it."



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