On Tuesday, June 2, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal met for the first time with the heads of churches and religious organizations - members of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.
The meeting was attended by the UCCRO Chairman, Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Evangelical Church Vasyl Raichynets, Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, President of the All-Ukrainian Union of Associations of Evangelical Christians-Baptists Churches Valery Antonyuk, member of Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, legal advisor to the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Hennadii Bilorytsky, Vicar of the Kyiv Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Bishop Victor Baryshevsky, Bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine, Ordinary of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Churches Vitalii Kryvytsky, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop of Kyiv and Halych Sviatoslav, Head of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine, Mufti of Ukraine Sheikh Ahmed Tamim, and representatives of other churches and religious organizations. The Government was represented by the Minister of Social Policy Maryna Lazebna, the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers Oleh Nemchinov, the acting Minister of Culture and Information Policy Svitlana Fomenko, Deputy Minister of Health - Chief Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine Viktor Liashko.
In his welcoming statement, the Head of Government assured the audience that the Government intends to continue all the good traditions of the Ukrainian State to organize regular meetings with leaders and members of religious organizations, first of all the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO). The PM thanked the members of the UCCRO for the fact that the vast majority of religious organizations listened to the recommendations on counteracting the coronavirus epidemic and decided to suspend the services for the specified period in the usual mode and launched their online services. "I express gratitude for that, because it is one of the factors that directly influenced the fact that we have passed these months of quarantine with moderate infection rates," said the Prime Minister.
Denys Shmyhal reminded that the period of adaptive quarantine is underway, and since May 22 in the regions with the favourable epidemic situation and with easing quarantine restrictions, it has become possible to hold religious ceremonies provided that all prevention measures are observed. "However, we must understand that all this is happening under circumstances where the pandemic has not yet been overcome. The number of patients in Ukraine reached the so-called "plateau" stage. 300-400 people are recorded on daily basis, which is approximately equal to the number of people who recover every day, but we still do not have a decreasing dynamics, and therefore we must follow safety measures," said the Prime Minister. The Head of Government assured that the Government seeks to "create all possible conditions in the current circumstances for the fullest possible performance of the relevant religious services."
In turn, representatives of religious organizations offered to the Government a number of proposals to ease quarantine restrictions for religious organizations, simplify humanitarian aid, raised issues of state family policy, the role of churches in attracting investment to Ukraine and more.
Minister of Social Policy Maryna Lazebna, at the request of Church representatives to simplify the registration of humanitarian goods, said that at the time of the pandemic the Ministry of Social Policy had simplified the procedure of recognizing goods as humanitarian, which made it possible to do so in one day, and for the future the Ministry plans to transform this process into an automatic mode.
For his part, Denys Shmyhal agreed with the view on the possibility of revising towards reducing the number of attendees during religious events. "I hope we will continue to ease the conditions as the incidence decreases. We really want our quarantine to be adaptable and effective, so that we can return to normal life," said the Prime Minister. The Head of Government also supported the initiative to summon such meetings once a quarter.