Religious Liberty and Its Role in Building Democracy: The Case of Ukraine

April 29, 2010
12:00 am - 12:00 am


Myroslav Marynovych
Vice Rector, Ukrainian Catholic University

With comments by:

William A. Galston
Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

George Weigel
Distinguished Senior Fellow
Ethics and Public Policy Center

Moderated by:

Nadia Diuk
Vice President, Programs – Africa, Europe & Eurasia, Latin America & Caribbean
National Endowment for Democracy

About the Event

Religious leaders around the world have drawn attention to the desire to live in a free society as part of the human condition: the Dalai Lama has highlighted the belief in “universal responsibility” and the Buddhist understanding “of the equality and potential of every individual.” Pope John Paul II spoke of “an extraordinary global acceleration of that quest for freedom which is one of the great dynamics of human history” in his address to the United Nations in 1995.

Despite their pre-independence history as part of the officially atheist Soviet Union, Ukrainians have always shown a high level of religiosity, partly spurred in opposition to the prohibitions of the Communist regime. The several million strong Ukrainian Catholic Church was the largest underground church in the world after it was banned in the Soviet Union. Since independence, Ukraine has welcomed many religious denominations and has provided a relatively tolerant environment, particularly since the Orange Revolution of 2004.  

What role has religion played in building democracy and strengthening civil society in Ukraine’s turbulent political circumstances?

To respond to this question, the NED is delighted to have hosted Myroslav Marynovych, Vice Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University Lviv and President of the Institute of Religion and Society. One of the youngest founding members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group in 1976, he was arrested and imprisoned for 10 years in prison and exile (1977-1987) in Perm and later Kazakhstan. Today, he is an expert on religious issues in Ukraine and a leading moral voice in current political discourse in his homeland.

About the Speakers

William A. Galston is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a former policy advisor to President Clinton. Galston is an expert on domestic policy, political campaigns, and elections. His current research focuses on designing a new social contract and the implications of political polarization. Prior to his appointment at Brookings, Galston served as the Saul Stern Professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

George Weigel is a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. Currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, he has held positions at St. Thomas Seminary School of Theology in Kenmore, the World Without War Council of Greater Seattle, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He is the author or editor of 20 books including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.

Nadia Diuk is Vice President- Programs for Europe and Eurasia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Endowment for Democracy. Prior to her current position, for over twenty years, she supervised NED programs in Europe and Eurasia.