In 2020, the Institute of Religion and Society of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) received a new director, Taras Dzyubanskyy, Doctor of Theology and head of the Libertas Center of Interdenominational and Interreligious Dialogue. He talks about the institute’s projects.
– Dr. Dzyubanskyy, last year you became head of the UCU Institute of Religion and Society. What goals have you set? And how will the structure continue to develop?
[TD] I was already involved with UCU. In 2014, I started teaching at the Department of Theology. In addition to a course in interdenominational (ecumenical) and interreligious dialogue, I also had the opportunity to prepare and conduct the course “Selected questions on the Church’s social teaching.” I have an interest in social questions because, for me, and for the UCU community, theology can’t be simply a dry, university discipline. Theological is living knowledge, which has an invaluable treasury of guideposts, values, and landmarks for the human being. The Church’s social teaching involves society, how to apply theology to “earthly” matters and understand our life, this world in the light of the word of God, God’s revelation. It is in this spirit that the Institute of Religion and Society (IRS), founded by Myroslav Marynovych almost a quarter century ago, operates. From the start of its founding, IRS set as a goal the improvement of relations between religion and society, to popularize and deepen the Church’s social teaching and the social teaching of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky.
In addition to all the mentioned areas, we also set as a goal for ourselves the development and promotion of interreligious dialogue, particular among the Abrahamic religions. There have already been some interesting developments, and I’m glad to be involved in the planning of new initiatives. In particular, work on the translation of foundational documents of Jewish-Christian dialogue continues, and I expect that we will also be able to start working on documents from the Islamic-Christian dialogue. There were also plans to introduce workshops and training for religious leaders, but the pandemic slightly interfered with these ideas, as these events were not planned in an online format.
—The academic year has begun. Although it will go on in an absolutely unusual manner, will the institute have some online events which people can participate in?
— [TD] The pandemic has certainly brought some inconveniences to the educational process. But we can see positive results: the readiness and flexibility of teachers and students to respond to new challenges of the times and not pause education. UCU took up this task very well even in the first weeks of the quarantine. Many of our teachers and students already had experience with online instruction, so this was not something entirely new. Among the new activities of IRS: We plan a fall School of the Social Thought of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (for teachers). There will also be a school in summer, open for all interested. Last July the school was conducted online, and so participants from other countries were able to join us. In addition to the Sheptytsky School, we also plan a series of webinar presentations of a collection of social documents and Catholic encyclicals which Svichado Press will be publishing.
[Author of the Ukrainian original: Yuliana Lavrysh; source: Dukhovna Velych Lvova (Spiritual Majesty of Lviv)]