In recent weeks, two scientific journals have published reviews of the book “Strategies for Reconciliation. The role of Churches in Ukraine” that was published in Ukrainian. The author of the first one is Thomas Bremer, professor at the University of Münster in Germany. At the Catholic Theological Faculty of this university, he heads the Department of “Ecumenism, Study of the Eastern Churches and the Peace Study”. Recently, because of dynamic changes in the church life of Ukraine, he learned Ukrainian language (in addition to Serbian and Russian ones, which he has long known). His review is published in the journal “Trudy Kyivskoyi dukhovnoji akademiyi” (“Proceedings of the Kyiv Theological Academy”), #34, p. 311-314.
The author of the second review is Valery Sekisov, a lecturer at the Evangelical Theological University in Kyiv and a graduate student at the Drahomanov National Pedagogical University. His review was published in the journal “Theological Reflections”, #119.1 (2021), p. 251-253.
The authors make quite different accents. In particular, Thomas Bremer calls the book “an attempt (and it should be added at once: a very successful attempt) to shed light on the church situation in Ukraine in the perspective of the possible role of the Churches in the process of reconciliation”. He emphasizes the difficulty of organizing the conference in October 2018, as it took place shortly after Eucharistic communion between Constantinople and Moscow was broken.
Bremer also emphasizes “the problem of the lack of a universally accepted orthodox mechanism for exercising church authority”, “the broad context of the issue and unresolved problems” considered in the texts authored by Sergii Bortnyk. Finally, he emphasizes that we as Christians should “strive with all our might to create an atmosphere in which the conditions necessary for reconciliation can be developed”.
Valery Sekisov makes significantly different accents in his review. In particular, he stressed the importance of the foreign experience of reconciliation set out in the reports of the representatives of Germany and Poland, which led to the “birth of the paradigm formula ‘Forgive and ask for forgiveness’”. He also notes what is missing in the book ‒ coverage of the policy of the Russian Federation and annexation of the Ukrainian territories.
Still, a positive impression of the book prevails. In particular, Sekisov notes: “It is necessary to pay due attention to the thorough coverage of the problem of primacy among the Orthodox Churches, especially in the context of the changes that have taken place in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries”. He stresses on the report “Civil Religion as a Temptation to the Public Openness of the Church”, which, in his opinion, “is the most theological in its essence”.
Finally, Sekisov emphasizes that the book can be of interest to a wide range of readers, because it “touches on extremely important issues, recalling the inevitability of the path of reconciliation; at least as long as we claim for us the title of Christian”.
Texts of the reviews in PDF format can be read at the following links: