[Ukraine] Head of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church says sex abuse victims deserve justice

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29 Sep 2019

Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav Shevchuk released his pastoral letter on the 28th of October and asks the victims of violence not to hide anymore, while they have the right to get justice. He emphasizes in his letter the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church condemns all types of sexual crimes, including clerical sexual abuse. 

‘We affirm once again that we will listen to anyone who may have been a victim or witness of violence in any environment, including the Church. At the same time, we urge them: Do not keep silent!’ says Shevchuk. 

He also stresses abuse and violence occurs on every stages in our societies, including families, schools, hospitals, sports and cultural settings as well as churches and monasteries. He urges state institutions and the actors of the private sector to pay more attention to the victims, outrages against minors and the vulnerable ones and make steps to stop these kind of violences.

He also emphasizes in his writing one of the main root causes of violence is the way power is exercised in our cultures and institutions including the Church as well. It is reprehensible the Church uses ‘its spiritual authority for personal purposes instead of serving God and the faithful.’ Shevchuk also mentions historical reasons behind violence and the silence of victims: in post-genocidal countries human beings are the ‘bearers of historical and new traumas’ and they still often feel defenseless against abuse and for this reason they rather remain in silence than speak up. 

He suggests child abuse does not seem as a broad phenomenon in the Ukrainian Church, however it does not mean that it does not exist. Shevchuk stresses that kind of taboo existing in public speech about child abuse, should not be present in the Church. Victims should feel that they get every support from the Church and at the end they get justice as well.

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