Notre Dame News | August 7, 2019
LVIV, Ukraine — The 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been tumultuous for Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, where citizens periodically have had to fight and die to make independence mean true liberty.
The Ukrainian Catholic University, known as UCU, has played a key part in the struggle, both in documenting the story of the banned church under the Soviets and restoring religious freedom and Catholic education.
For that, Notre Dame awarded the president of Ukrainian Catholic University, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the 2019 Notre Dame Award on June 29. But the relationship doesn’t begin or end there.
The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame has collaborated with UCU for more than a decade and plans to build on the experience of UCU and study the role of religion in civil society through the new Faith and Freedom Project. The effort kicked off with a symposium at UCU, “Faith and Freedom: Religions and Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe,” which followed the Notre Dame Award ceremony the same day.
“We will pose with exemplary academic rigor a whole set of questions about the role of various religious groups — Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and others — in Central and Eastern European societies,” William Donahue, director of the Nanovic Institute, told those gathered at the symposium. “We will launch an academic study into the ways contemporary religious actors affect civil society.”
Notre Dame can learn from the experience of UCU under Archbishop Gudziak, Donahue said. UCU has forged strong ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox Church and others. Its community also participated in the 2014 Revolution of Dignity that ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Twenty-five-year-old UCU lecturer Bohdan Solchanyk was among more than 100 people killed when peaceful protesters were fired on in Kiev’s main square.
Read more here.