Photo: CEC/Ulf Tjärnström
Press Release No: 02/24
31 January 2024
Justice, peace and reconciliation in Ukraine is the focus of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) Pathways to Peace Initiative. The programme was developed further by the Pathways to Peace Steering Group which met in Brussels from 29 to 30 January 2024 to promote dialogue and action.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Pathways to Peace serves as a coordinated response of the European church fellowship, implementing events and projects, facilitating exchange among European churches on peace, and highlighting Ukrainian church voices.
The Pathways to Peace Steering Group, which gathers representatives of CEC Member Churches and resource persons from the Ukraine region, worked on strengthening a network of church leaders, intellectuals, and academics in preparation for peace in Ukraine. They discussed how churches may advocate for the protection of destroyed, damaged, or looted religious sites in Ukraine, enhancing an ecumenical vision for just peace.
“Pathways to Peace aims to prepare for peace,” said Dr Pavlo Smytsnyuk from Ukraine, a member of the Steering Group and a Mary Seeger O’Boyle Associate Research Scholar at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies of Princeton University. “We need to be ready to build peace and face the consequences of the war.”
Smytsnyuk went on to say that realising the objectives of Pathways to Peace is not “beyond our forces”. “Yet there’s a need to approach the issue of the war in Ukraine realistically. We have diverse perspectives. There are those who support receiving weapons in Ukraine, and those who believe in non-violent measures. It is a complex but enriching dialogue,” he added.
The group discussed how to increase cooperation with CEC Member Churches in Ukraine, and the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organisations.
Rev. Karin van den Broeke and Prof. Dr Fernando Enns, members of the World Council of Churches Executive Committee, joined the group online, sharing their perspectives based on the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice, Reconciliation and Unity.
The Pathways to Peace Steering Group, led by CEC President Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, met with MEP Witold Waszczykowski, chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, hosted at the European Parliament.
The meeting featured a discussion on issues related to peace, the war against Ukraine, and the role of the European Institutions, as well as churches and religions. Archbishop Nikitas introduced the Pathways to Peace Initiative to MEP Waszczykowski, highlighting European churches’ efforts in peacebuilding.
Pathways to Peace is a continuation of the legacy of the Conference of European Churches, which was founded in 1959 as a peacebuilding organisation following World War II. CEC continues to honour its roots through an ongoing commitment to peacebuilding and reconciliation.
CEC is a fellowship of 114 churches from Orthodox, Protestant and Anglican traditions from across Europe, and together with its ecumenical partners represents over 380 million European citizens.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
Rue Joseph II, 174 B-1000 Brussels
Tel. +32 486 75 82 36
YouTube: Conference of European Churches
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