Leaders of Ukrainian denominations met with high-ranking officials of the U.S. Department of State

A delegation of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Thomas O. Melia in Washington on April 26.

The American side at the meeting was also represented by the Director of the Office of Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus Affairs Baxter Hunt.

In addition to religious leaders on the Ukrainian side was attended by Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oleksandr Motsyk.

Participants discussed issues of religious freedom in Ukraine and the world. Thomas O. Melia highlighted the development of social relations through which everyone can freely profess their religion, even when they're in the minority.

Representatives of the UCCRO presented their own experience of understanding between denominations and stressed the role of dialogue with the government to approve the religious freedom as a fundamental value.

After this, Ukrainian delegation together with representatives of the Embassy and the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States conducted the ceremony of laying flowers at the monument to Taras Shevchenko.

The visit of leaders of Ukrainian denominations to Washington ended with a ceremonial reception at the Embassy of Ukraine. Participants of the event commemorated in prayer the victims of the Chornobyl disaster, the 26th anniversary of which was observed at this day.

Addressing the guests with a welcoming speech, Ambassador Alexander Motsyk noted that the visit of the UCCRO delegation has become an important event in the Ukrainian-American relations. According to him, the U.S. could better understand the processes that are taking place in Ukrainian society, particularly in the inter-church and interdenominational dialogue, as well as in the dialogue between denominations and government.

The delegation of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations now visits Canada and the United States within the framework of the program in honor of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky’s Heritage (from 22 till 29 April).

Photoreport by Maksym Vasin, translation by Svitlana Sydorenko, IRF

© 2012 The Institute for Religious Freedom Kyiv, Ukraine