Main Points of Christian Ethics of Peace and Their Applicability to Ukraine

Lecture by Markus Vogt (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
at Uzhhorod National University dated 3.10. 2018 [revision dated 18.12.2018]

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1. Mismatch of the Ideal and Reality

From the Christian point of view participation in conflict resolution is a necessary consequence of faith in God because people believe in a universal God, who unites all nations into one human family. They believe in a merciful God, who protects the rights of weak, oppressed and foreign ones in a special way. The reconciliation with God gives power to reconcile with people and vice versa. This reconciliation is aimed at overcoming of injustice, sin and violent structures. The entire history of interaction of God with his people is, in itself, “the project for overcoming violence […], understanding of the presence of God and image of God is impossible beyond this dynamics” (Freistetter/Wagnsonner 2010, S. 38). The ethics of peace touches upon the very essence of Christian self-determination and, thus, the Church. Peacekeeping turns out to be a test of faith viability.

Despite the existence of universal social peace mission  Christian history is full of violence, and therefore the idea of contribution of monotheistic religions to peace and non-violence is often disputed in research literature. Beyond calls to peace and reconciliation, the significant potential of violence and intolerance is explicitly expressed in religions (Angenendt 2018; Zagorin 2003). In this context monotheism gives rise to the strongest doubts: the understanding that a person’s God is the only God and consequently that a person’s faith is the only true faith caused and keeps causing violence. In monotheistic religions the absolutization of one’s own worldview and moral system provides constant grounds for conflicts (Assmann 2003). From the perspective of culture history the addiction to violence is probably hidden behind the tradition of ritual sacrifice (Girard 2006; Palaver 2004). Nevertheless, there is another point of view: the myths containing elements of violence are intended to eliminate aggressive potential because pictures of violence drawn in the imagination help to avoid violence in behavior (catharsis). In scientific analysis of Christian ethics of peace it is necessary to use critical approach to such issues and ambiguous concepts (Altner 2003; Stipp 2017).

Such ambivalence in relation to peace and violence can be observed in the majority of religions: on the one hand the ideal of peace plays a central role in self-determination of almost all religious communities; on the other hand religious beliefs often were and remain the medium for strict separation from “unbelievers” and violence “escalation factor” (Rittberger/Hasenclever 2001). In the face of “new religious intolerance” (Nussbaum 2014) that fuels worldwide conflicts today all mentioned above assumes a highly explosive nature. The extremely tense situation in Ukraine occurred because of the religious and nationalistic factors (Boeckh/Turij 2015), but at the same time we should admit the growth of interreligious and intercultural understanding not only within the world Church (particularly intensified due to the actions of the current pope) but also in Ukraine (e.g., thanks to the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations)[1].

However, everything stated above does not mean it is possible to disregard significant differences existing between world religions as well as within one religion between its denominations and branches. Attention also should be paid to intra-religion differences that occur at various historical stages. Specifically the variety of diverse manifestations within religions, denominations and religious branches comprehensively complement each other and beneficially influence on one another (Küng 2001; Küng/Kuschel 2001; Vogt/Thurner 2017). In these terms Gandhi’s combination of the Hindui non-violence principle (ahimsa) with the biblical ideal proclaiming love for your enemy is illustrative. It gave rise to Gandhi’s social concept of non-violent resistance which turned out to be the most important strategy of struggling against unjust regimes in the 20th century. The success of application of each strategy, obviously, depends on its specific situation. Yet, one should understand that Christian ethics of peace by no means implies  the rejection of debate, resistance and struggle. Its purpose is to civilize the forms of conflict resolution. Christian ethics must combine interreligious, intercultural, civil and social-scientific approaches in order to preserve itself as the force able to point out the way to humanity in the context of irreconcilable contradictions of society in the modern world (cf.: Altner/Michelsen 2003; Girard 2006; Heidenreich 2006; Heinrich 2006; Vogt 2013; 2015; 2018a; 2018b; Schockenhoff 2018, esp. 578-740).

2. Arguments in Favor of Enlightened Religion

The challenge to which Christian ethics is seeking a proper reply is the theory of “The Clash of Civilizations” (Huntington 2002). According to this theory the global conflicts of the 21st century will originate mainly from the struggle of cultures and, consequently, of religions for self-assertion. At first sight it seems quite reasonable to put the opposition between “Christian east” and Islamic Arab culture into the center of world conflicts. At the same time there are empirically obtained grounds for rejection of such a point of view: various religions and cultures could and still can peacefully live with each other for ages. A wonderful example proving this idea is the multinational Austria-Hungary monarchy that led to cultural flourishing of one of the modern Ukraine’s regions and ensured peaceful coexistence of different denominations and religions (cf.: Koschyk 2018: p. 351f.). Only in the event that this existing interaction is supplemented with manipulation and religious, national or cultural identification structures does the opposition become politically significant and potentially explosive (Sen 2007). As a rule, religion is not a cause but an escalation factor of violence (Rittberger/Hasenclever 2001: p. 161-163 and p. 180-193). So religion and people are misused over and over again in political struggle for powers and in groundless generalizations relating to people belonging to foreign nations and believing in different faiths. Nevertheless, today religions should be self-critical in the matter of consistency in teaching their followers tolerance, reconciliation, peace and non-violence. In the face of political explodability caused by mixing of religions and violence they should proactively resist being viewed, propagandized or unrighteously used as a motive to start war.

We need enlightened religion. However, before starting to perform peacemaking activities religions should first resolve their internal contradictions, because “peace between nations is impossible without peace between religions, and peace between religions is impossible without interreligious dialogue” (Küng 1990: p. 102f.; also cf.: Altner 2003: p. 81-96). Critical analysis of the way of thinking that leads to violence legitimization is the essential part of protection of liberal democracies. This task is set simultaneously for science, pedagogy and society as a whole (Heinrich 2006; Beestermöller 2007: p. 335-339). If religions are willing to participate in the peacemaking mission they should not reject critical review of their own contradictions. Important steps towards enlightened religions free from their own contradictions are the development of consciousness open to “diversity of the world” and “tolerance and respect to this diversity” (Bauer 2018: p. 31-40).

The enlightenment providing the possibility of constructive and critical operation of the differences in claims for truth in various religions is the best antidote for fundamentalist ideologies. For example, it opposes using religion for claiming supremacy or creation of hostile images of followers of other faiths or atheists. But this enlightenment should not be identified with secularism: it should be self-critical and open to everything that lies beyond our mind and that a state cannot ensure (Böckenförde 2007; Kress 2008). Even if from the perspective of a new enlightened religion the role of the latter in the matters of peace is contradictory, it will show anyways that religion is an integral part of society and always will be. This is why the factor of religion is highly important for understanding and overcoming today’s world conflicts. You can get clear evidence of this from current examples.

For instance, international terrorism cannot be defeated through military means only. Exclusively military methods also will not resolve the conflict in Ukraine because it is based not on reasonable political interests (and by its aggression even Russia rather inflicted harm to its own foreign policy and definitely damaged its economy) but on nationally and religiously colored identity conflict (Golczewski 2018; Hnyp 2018; to the matter of moral grammar in identity conflicts: Honneth 1992). In this conflict churches play a major role (Julian 2018). The task of scientific theology is to oppose functionalization of religion during political conflicts.

The Christian point of view in identity conflicts in no way means rejection of its own position. But for tolerance the ability to deal with diversity is much more necessary. Recognition of the fact that unresolvable contradictions exist is the distinctive feature of tolerance (Forst 2017). Therefore, cultural and national identities should not be suppressed: instead they should be perceived as a factor of enrichment which requires enhanced reflection capabilities and continuous efforts aimed at teaching and development of dialogue (Lähnemann 2001: p. 217-238; Leimgruber 2007).

3. Winning a War Does not Mean Winning the Peace

The enlightened ethics of peace starts with reasonable comprehensive analysis of current conflicts. First of all, it is necessary here to take into account “violence evolution in the 20th and 21st centuries” (Münkler 2017). Nowadays peace and respect for  human dignity are exposed to new threats due to the unconventional nature of wars (Münkler 2002), which takes the form of terrorism, hybrid wars (Schreiber 2016; van Herpen 2016) and violence with a  background of dissolution of states. Traditional security policy lacks efficient solutions at its disposal. New forms of peacekeeping having a preventive nature and closely related to political and social initiative are required. Along with this, international law, intercultural competence and human capability to reconcile in order to win the peace instead of war are gaining importance.

For Ukraine the diverse Russian aggression is a severe test in the struggle for peace. This requires taking into consideration direct and indirect attacks and destabilizing strategies applied at all levels. Christian ethics of peace does not step back in passive defenselessness in the name of universal reconciliation and pacifism: it holds its positions using reasonable countermeasures and sound estimation of behavior models, weaknesses and strengths of all process participants. The unity of different groups – Eastern and Western Ukrainians, various ethnic groups and churches – is a stabilization factor necessary in the face of threat. Besides, they must demonstrate unity with numerous internally displaced persons who need protection and all possible assistance. That is why it is necessary to defeat corruption which deprives the state of the possibility to function properly. Such struggle requires courage, but it is an existential test that must be passed to obtain internal peace in Ukraine. The attractive idea of compensating for the weakness of social cohesion by presenting the image of a mutual external enemy conceals great danger. Directing aggressions outwards is the favorite technique of populist and authoritarian political systems which right now threatens the peace, solidarity and international cooperation in Europe (Vogt 2017).

In order to preserve unity it is no less important to be vigilant in relation to (digital) media manipulation of public opinion. Wars often involve one-sided presentation of information and visual materials. The task of utmost importance assigned to journalists as well as to representatives of science and the church is to contribute to enlightenment. In order to expose fake news it is necessary to engage more personal resources. It would be naive to suppose that the “struggle for Ukraine” (Justenhoven 2018) is conducted exclusively with traditional military forces; and it would be equally naive to think that this struggle can be won without military forces. New forms of hybrid and asymmetric wars are the challenge to be faced by the whole society.

In view of everything mentioned above, the complexity of Christian understanding of peace turns out to be highly relevant: you can win a war with arms, but in order to establish continuous peace you need discussion about justice, government control and social unity. The Christian ideal of peace is not naive and detached from life; on the contrary it is comprehensive but it can be misused for distraction of attention from unbiased analysis of particular conflict situations. Therefore, Jesus’ Good News of peace needs to be interpreted for our time to live in accordance with it and use it for political purposes such as relieving force in response to particular matters threatening peace. Within this interpretation an important position must be unquestionably held by dignity of all people irrespective of their nation, gender or religion. This idea has anchored in modern democracies as the basis for peaceful coexistence, and virtually represents the very “secret of true peace” (Johannes Paul II. 1998; Johannes Paul II. 2002). For Ukraine “The Revolution of Dignity” on Maidan 2013 was the central forum in the fight for a society which respects human dignity and sovereignty of the people instead of a society in which a corrupt government deprives people of the possibility to rule their destiny (Andruchowytsch 2014). In fact it concerns not political alliances but the value of dignity, freedom and peace which are indivisible and lie in the core of Christian faith. For this reason I intend to ground my further reasoning on Christian ethics.

4. Biblical Perspectives.

Peace is a key term in the Bible. This word is mentioned 135 times in the Old Testament, and 48 times in the New Testament (on this matter cf.: DBK 2000, No. 12-33). The peculiarity of the biblical approach is manifested through its understanding of peace as “the fruit of righteousness” (Isaiah, 32: 17) (Otto 1999; Biberstein 2004). Peace is initially associated with justice, happiness, goodness and welfare, and all of them are understood as various aspects of the “shalom” notion. The astonishing thing about the Bible is that the comprehensive orientation towards peace in it is continuously confronted with the human addiction to violence. People do not live in heaven and their days are marked with the constant presence of conflicts and violence. Instead of veiling violence the Bible resolutely brings up a question about its forms and causes. “The Bible unveils violence” (DBK 2000, No. 27). It directly shows how the humans’ inexhaustible addiction to violence threatens the world order and coexistence. Such clear vision of all planes of violence is the first prerequisite for overcoming it in humane way (Vogt 2012; Vogt 2018b).

The climax of Christian Good News is love for enemies, the purpose of which is not reaching a helpless state but an active “love of dispelling the enemy image”, i.e. the strategy of turning an enemy into a friend (Lapide 1987). Jesus’ counsel to “turn the other cheek to someone who slaps you on the right cheek” (Luke, 6: 29) assumes not the clash between the parties of the conflict involving violence but the desire to awaken sense of shame (as it refers to a slap by the back of the hand, otherwise the left cheek would be mentioned instead of the right one). This scornful gesture can be repelled by self-control, without transition to a conflict with application of force. The commandment to love your enemies is “the climax of Jesus’ ethics” (Gnilka 1986: p. 187). It anticipates that when encountering an enemy you will not use strength aggressively but demonstrate readiness to reconciliation, refusal of violence and a caring attitude. For a long period of time love for the enemy has been comprehended only in terms of moralityand it is distinguished from humility and the passively defenseless “morality of slaves” (Nietzsche 1968, p. 295-297). Freud criticized Christian morality because love for the enemy in the Christian message is a restriction on aggression imposed by super-ego, which absolutely contradicts human nature. It inevitably leads to reduction of the capability to suppress  aggressive discharges towards other persons (cf. Freud 1974, vol. IX, 191-270, especially p. 239f. and 265). Love for the enemy targets dispelling the image of enemy and arises from a special type of brave power. The ethics of non-violence emerging from the depth of Christian faith means “active converting power that understands humane evil and its roots but overcomes them” (Korff 1985: p. 186). The condition for combining the belligerent and non-violent understandings of love for the enemy is the readiness to oppose injustice on your own account and not on someone else’s, express solidarity with the suffering ones, and not with powers that be.

From the biblical point of view love and mercy represent a single entity. The reconciling power of God’s mercy becomes a life-giving force if people get imbued by it and make it a measure for their actions (Kasper 2016). Mercy is far from being passive; it strives for the active restoration of justice. Although the more belligerent aspect of the love principle does not lie directly in politics at least in the biblical texts, it constitutes “the starting point for events and processes on which grounds true changes of political situation take place” (Havel 1990: p. 39). So, it is impossible to imagine the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe countries which resulted in the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 without the influence of Christians.

5. From the History of Christian Ethics of Peace: Theoretical and Practical Aspects

While in early Christianity it was considered impossible to be a Christian and a warrior at the same time, after becoming the state religion in the 4th century the Church began to express its readiness to compromise. Its ethics of peace was partially restricted by criteria in accordance with which waging of war can be fair. As in this work my task does not include the detailed depiction of the development of Christian ethics of peace we will point out two Encyclicals Pacem Dei munus (1920) and Pacem in terris (1963) which were the only ones dealing with the matter of peace. The apostolic circular dated 1920 calls for reconciliation between the winners and defeated ones as a condition of long-term peace and supports the idea of the League of Nations. The recognition of the inherent human rights legally valid throughout the world stands in the center of the circular dated 1963. Once again this approach is discussed, generalized and deepened in pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes in the part concerning “the Church in the modern world” (GS, No. 77-90). According to Gaudium et spes, military intervention is justified only when its purpose is peacemaking for all engaged nations on the basis of generally recognized mandatory international law and with respect to all human rights (GS, No. 79-84). The true meaning of Christian engagement can be comprehended not from the works on the theology of peace but only in the context of the peace movement. The peace movement initiated by adherents of faith boosted the reconciliation processes of historical importance, for example, peaceful change in the policy of Central Europe in 1989, which is unique and often called “the historical miracle” (Biser 2003).

In the 20th century a broad Christian peace movement initiated mostly by women took place. For example, after the end of World War I the German Catholics’ Peace Association was founded; immediately after the horrors of World War II the International Catholic Peace Movement emerged; and in 1958 the inter-religious peace movement “The World Conference on Religion and Peace” (WCRP) was established in Prague. Characteristic features of these diverse peace movements are the following (cf.: Donat 1983):

  • Opposition to military nationalism and limitation of national and state policy of arms race;
  • Support of the mutual understanding between nations and civil and public alternatives for the state policy relying on military methods exclusively;
  • Demand to establish international law institutions for securing peace and international jurisdiction of criminal courts;
  • Programs of non-violent resistance, civil disobedience and social protection from structural violence;
  • Organization of social services during peacetime in order to secure social justice, intercultural reconciliation and dispel of the enemy images.

Efforts relating to cessation of military confrontations undertaken by Sant’Egidio (Morozzo della Rocca 2010; Riccardi 2018) community gained worldwide recognition. Community representatives were continuously present (and are still present) at the flashpoints of the seemingly hopeless conflicts in Africa, Kosovo and the Near East. They made inestimable contributions through mediation activities and building of confidence. Their contribution to the meetings of high ranking religious authorities is of special importance.

In the countries of the former Eastern Bloc numerous dissidents have also demonstrated examples of belief in freedom, human dignity and peace through their non-violent resistance to totalitarian regimes (Preuße 2014). And many of them paid for it with their lives. From the Christian point of view this sacrifice was not in vain as it gave birth to the hope for freedom, justice and peace.

6. Ways and Priorities of Securing Peace from the Point of View on the Situation in Ukraine

In conclusion, instead of summarizing it is necessary to set forth twelve priorities of peacemaking which are applicable to the current situation in Ukraine from the Christian point of view. The provisions specified by me will function as the leading criteria. Attention will also be paid to the assumptions of criteriology (as the church officially understands it) (Ecclesia Catholica 1993, No. 2307-2330), position of the Vienna Institute for Religion and Peace (Freistetter/Wagnsonner 2010: p. 43), insights on the current “fight for Ukraine” (Justenhoven 2018 and “Five Steps for Achieving Peace” of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany (Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2018).

  1. As a rule, the non-military ways of resolving conflict are preferable. War is permissible only as a last resort after comprehensive evaluation and only in case all other methods turned out to be unsuccessful and cannot be effective in the future. For non-military resolution of the conflict the support of a neutral, legally empowered intermediary is required. Thus, in reply to the annexation of Crimea economic sanctions are introduced as a key methodagainst Russia. They do not act fast but in medium- and long-term perspective they represent a very important pressure mechanism. At the same time it is quite important for such sanctions to remain in force even to the disadvantage of the imposing party. Diplomacy should make Russia understand that by its behavior that violates international regulations it harms and isolates itself.
  2. For the current conflict in Ukraine the key role as an intermediary is given to OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) rather than to the UN. The trilateral contact group (Ukraine, Russia, OSCE) chaired by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini was formed by OSCE as a platform for public debate. This, among other things, provided possibility for signing the Minsk Protocol (Zeller 2018, p. 164-172) with the active participation of the Federal Chancellor of Germany. Increase of diplomatic pressure to ensure compliance with this protocol is the preferable strategy for all further negotiations (Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2018, item 1).
  3. Recognition of war as justified is determined by the following criteria and requires restrictions as follows: order of authorities provided with powers in accordance with international law; opposing breaches of international law or rectifying them; pursuit of the objectives aimed at establishing just peace and reconciliation; minimization of required violence; strict limitation of time and chances for success of the applied measures. The annexation of Crimea by Russia is a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and flagrant abuse of international law. It means failure to comply with the Budapest Memorandum (1994) under which Ukraine was unconditionally provided security assurances of territorial integrity in exchange for the voluntarily giving up the nuclear weapons. Ukraine has the right of self-defense (cf.: the Charter of the United Nations, art. 51).
  4. By the annexation of Crimea and military actions in Donbass Russia violated the norms of international law in force, which is absolutely unacceptable (Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2018, item 2). Ukraine is entitled to demand international assistance(cf.: the Charter of the United Nations, art. 39ff). But it concerns not a classic symmetric war of a country against another one because there are signs of internal conflict (though it was triggered from the outside). Thus, in “the low intensity war”(Münkler 2007) one should be not in a hurry to proclaim martial law and should avoid international escalation of military confrontation. All international activities should be determined not by the refusal to demonstrate solidarity in the form of military assistance but by the struggle to preserve equilibrium between the necessary readiness for self-defense and avoidance of uncontrolled expansion of conflict in Ukraine to the whole world.
  5. When resolving inevitable military conflicts it is necessary to adhere strictly to the norms of international law and observe the monopoly on applying force held by the United Nations and by process participants empowered by the UN. The UN and the Security Council shall not be bypassed even though they need reformation. Along with warfare all means of international diplomacy should be used until they expire. We should not forget about conflict de-escalation. We should not refrain from the realistic appraisal of the situation as by now we cannot ignore the fact that the annexation of Crimea would be impossible to abort in the nearest future. Ukraine should be able to persevere and to resist for a long period of time in this war of attrition. This should be paid attention to in all means of international support. The number of OSCE observers should be increased and the deployment of peacekeeping forces should be tested (Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2018, item 3 and 4).
  6. As the strategy of evasion of international expansion of the conflict is of priority, indirect support is preferable instead of direct intervention. It is reasonable to assist by martial exercises, arms supply and support of various forms of civil resistance. When engaging Germany in international responsibility issues, its non-military participation is traditionally emphasized. Nevertheless, in the current conflict in Ukraine various possibilities also become available for the German party in relation to still unexhausted solidary achievements. The activities carried out in this direction should be intensified on the basis of Germany’s own interests and for the sake of European plan of peace preservation. Passive tolerance expressed through the Russia appeasement policy that lacked courage to call the law breach by its proper name cannot help now. Main ethical postulates cannot be the matter of negotiations.  It concerns everyone who breaches international law as it was, for example, during the war in Iraq (Beestermöller 2003).
  7. Armed resistance is reasonable only as a part of extensive diplomatic and civil opposition to aggression. At the same time activities aimed at prevention of public opinion manipulations are of major importance. As Russia primarily relies  on approval of the Russian-speaking population it acts quite actively in Ukraine. These activities require counterweight in the form of personal, structural and financial resources for professional journalism. Scientifically grounded analytics and international coverage of events by media are also required to expose fake news. Measures relating to dissemination of political literacy and reliable communication of information play important role as well.
  8. If the rights of a person or a group of persons are being violated for a long period of time the international community encounters the necessity of humanitarian intervention during which the rules of ethically justified violence should be observed. After the Rwandan and Balkan genocides the paradigm of humanitarian intervention prevailed over pacifism ideals in political and religious ethics of peace (Hinsch 2006; Schockenhoff 2018: p. 673-695). During contemporary history this has been developing within the key ethical concept “duty to protect”. The obligation to resort to humanitarian intervention is strictly limited by the events of genocide and serious crimes against humanity. And in case of strict adherence to these criteria they are applicable to the situation in Ukraine neither now nor before this moment. However, it is necessary to secure vigilant international observation and ensure a  state of readiness in order to have the possibility to intervene preventively and in due time if required.
  9. As the conflict in Ukraine represents a part of multilevel struggle for a new world order (Münkler 2017: p. 264-300) it is impossible to resolve it in a long-term perspective without establishing the international order in which law norms would be observed and peace would prevail. This is the priority of the 21st century. Along with it, the reformation of the International Security Council is gaining utmost importance because now it does not reflect the balance of forces in the world in a proper way. It is used by powers that be for evil purposes as a tool in their dominance policy, first of all by means of their veto power. Due to the denationalization of American policy a vacuum was formed which should be compensated by tightening of various supranational ties (Schockenhoff 2018, 639-665). Currently the question is being discussed whether the Security Council is generally required to enhance EU capacity, as different institutions (e.g., UN, NATO, OSCE, EU) need to coordinate their actions.
  10. All measures should be aimed at achieving the goals of just peace (Die deutschen Bischöfe 2000), at the same time social, economic and political aspects should be taken into consideration and strategically integrated into the general concept for reaching the main objective. Restoration and securing of supremacy of the law in Ukraine for the purpose of opposing the spreading corruption and enrichment of particular oligarchs at the expense of people must become a contribution to peace and preservation of public unity which should not be underestimated. Right now social peace is exposed to significant internal threats in Ukraine. There is danger in this area that aggression directed outside can distract attention from internal conflicts. This is why the classic Church doctrine about indivisibility of justice and peace is highly relevant. To oppose the attempts of corruption to deprive people of supreme rights, independent, critical media and moral upbringing and development of legal consciousness are needed. Basically, this is the area to which Churches and religious communities can make a significant contribution. It refers to fostering respect to democratic values and commitment to democracy as the basis of just peace. It should be structurally guaranteed by encouraging Ukrainians to form a diverse and open society as well as revision and decentralization of management (Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 2018, item 5).
  11. Forgiveness and reconciliation are necessary for the long-lasting peace. It cannot be achieved by mere amnesty of war criminals; it requires interhuman meetings and “healing of memories. Very often memories about injustice, offence and violence become the cause of new violence. Reconciliation of the parties is the basis of peace. In this area churches and religious communities perform their initial task because in reconciliation there is always a religious dimension (Riccardi 2018). At the same time it is highly important from social and political points of view. In Ukraine the situation is about reconciliation of different values, cultural mindsets and basic social principles within the borders of Europe. Reconciliation should be distinguished from harmony and interpreted in the light of tolerance as the diversity that reached reconciliation. It does not imply humble submission to repressive authorities, but it means sovereignty and active tolerance. As social principles are frequently understood as fundament for Catholic Social doctrine and ethics, and the central theme of peace is still not considered on this level I suggest including reconciliation in the list of the social principles of Catholic church (Vogt 2018; on the subject of reconciliation of the parties as the basis of the ethics of peace cf.: Benedikt XV. 1920).
  12. In the future, the strategy of peace should pay more attention to preparation of professional resources for intercultural prevention of conflicts and subsequent monitoring after conflict end. For Ukraine the scientific understanding of the extremely contradictory structuring of identity and the role played by religion in this process are gaining key importance (Golczewski 2018; Hnyp 2018). Theological critique of involvement of Christian faith for nationalistic purposes is an essential contribution to the cause of peace that Churches should make. Here the development of the fundamental concept of tolerance towards religions, ethnic groups and cultures also belongs. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations should become an important participant of the process. In Ukraine traditional religious pluralism carries a fair potential for the policy of peace, but it should be activated in new points of mutual understanding over and over again (Rap 2015; Boeckh/Turij 2015).


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[1]The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations was founded in 1996. Its main objectives are stimulation of dialog between denominations and cooperation with the state as a consulting body during the development of law norms regulating relationship between the state and the Church. It comprises 18 Churches and organizations covering 95 % of total religious society of Ukraine. In the Council the most important Christian denominations (the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, Greek Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Church) and other religions of the country (Jews and Muslims) are represented, cf.: Mykhaileyko 2015: p. 33f. Since October 2018 the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine are subordinated to Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, which resulted in significant tension within Orthodoxy and formation of explosive political situation. In 2016 45,7 % of population considered themselves to be the followers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, 13,3 % – of Moscow Patriarchate, 0,8 % – of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.


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