Ukrainian Council of Churches will cooperate with the Ministry of Internal Affairs

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The leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs discussed with the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations directions and practical mechanisms for further cooperation.

The meeting took place on September 17, 2019 in Kyiv under the chairmanship of Minister Arsen Avakov and Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church Vіtalіi Kryvytskyi, Chairman of the UCCRO, Institute for Religious Freedom reports.

The Minister of Internal Affairs supported the proposition of religious leaders to expand chaplain activities.

Arsen AvakovIn situation of war in the East and the peace to-be, the role of church is really important. We are going to develop a comfortable format of cooperation, under which the chaplain’s activities will cover other units subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, including the National Police.

Special attention was paid to the problems of re-socialization of combatants, first of all providing them with pastoral care and psychological support in overcoming psych trauma and posttraumatic stress disorders.

In the context of peace building and reintegration of the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories residents, the Chairman of UCCRO Vitalii Kryvytskyi noted that it’s not only a problem with clearance the territories of military operations of mines, but also the need to “clearing the hearts” of people who have been torn from life in the Ukrainian context for a long time. According to the Bishop, an important role in this can be played just by the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

Avhustyn (Markevych), Metropolitan of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs to act impartially, protecting the rights of believers in cases of property conflicts. To this, Minister Arsen Avakov replied: "MIA has no privileges for any church or religious organization. This ministry will secure the rights of everyone."

Besides, at the suggestion of the Deputy Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith Anatolii Kozachok, the participants of the meeting discussed the possibility of police interacting with chaplains in responding to cases of domestic violence in order to peacefully resolve conflicts and prevent their recurrence.

As the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Police are authorized to monitor compliance with the Law of Ukraine “On the Protection of Public Moral”, a priest of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church Oleksa Petriv drew the Ministry leadership’s attention to the importance of fulfilling the functions that were previously performed by the liquidated National Expert Commission on the Protection of Public Morality.

Among other things, the parties discussed the issues of drug and alcohol addicts rehabilitation, including in church institutions of re-socialization. The Minister of Internal Affairs considers the social work of churches and religious organizations of this kind important, but noted the significance of complying with legislative requirements when organizing such institutions.

Arsen AvakovOur top priority is to protect young people from drug addiction. It is impossible to be done exclusively by force. Appropriate health facilities should be established, and the main task of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is to see that human rights are not violated there.

To the Minister’s question about the attitude of the UCCRO to the proposition on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, the clergy said that this decision cannot be taken without a comprehensive study of this issue and developing an approach that will not lead to a worsening of the situation with drug addiction, especially among young people.

With a view to practically implement the outlined areas of cooperation, Archbishop Yevstratii (Zoria), Deputy Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, suggested creating a specialized Public Council involving representatives of various denominations, and narrow-focused working groups.

Yulia Babych

It is worth reminding that, as a result of a previous meeting between the leadership of the MIA of Ukraine and the UCCRO in November 2018, an agreement was reached to solve the problem of taking pictures for a passport of a citizen of Ukraine and other identification documents in religious clothes, in particular, in traditional headwear of various religions. The corresponding order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is on the way to signing.

Institute for Religious Freedom

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