Ukrainian Catholics Oppose Language Law
A Ukrainian fan displaying the countrys colors is pictured at the Euro 2012 soccer games in Donetsk in June. (photo: CNS/Yves Herman, Reuters)
13 Jul 2012 by Liubomyra Remazhevska
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Church leaders in
Ukraine have signed an open letter calling for Ukrainian
President Viktor Yanukovych not to sign a law that would
grant Russian, spoken by most people in eastern and
southern Ukraine, regional language status.
The legislation would keep Ukrainian as the
countrys official language. However, several regional
languages designated by the bill could be used in courts,
hospitals, schools and other state institutions in areas
where they predominate.
Church leaders — including Catholics — said
preserving the Ukrainian language is instrumental to
preserving the nations culture and should not become the subject of political speculation, reported the Religious Information Service of Ukraine.
Ukrainian unites people in the nation, creating a
social and humanitarian space, the church leaders said. Language is designed to unite people and not be a source of hatred.
Regional language status would also be granted to
Bulgarian, Romanian and Hungarian, all of which are
spoken in Ukraine.
Some Ukrainians have expressed concern that
granting legal status to the Russian language would be a
threat to national sovereignty. Ukraine was part of the
Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for at least 300
years without the opportunity of developing its own
language and culture.
Among the church leaders signing the letter were
the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church,
Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych; Bishop
Markiyan Trofymyak of Lutsk; and Patriarch Filaret of
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate.
The Religious Information Service of Ukraine
reported the church leaders called for a balanced language
policy that would protect the public status of the
Ukrainian language and promote the development and
functioning of languages of national minorities. They
urged the president to veto the bill and return it to
Parliament for review.
In an interview with Ukraines Channel 24 TV,
Archbishop Shevchuk said: When we speak of language
or of respect for the language another person speaks, we
speak of respect for the human person.
Tags: Ukraine Russia Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church