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Soviet Union: Religious freedom as it relates to Catholics in the Ukraine

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 May 1990
Citation / Document Symbol SUN5500
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Soviet Union: Religious freedom as it relates to Catholics in the Ukraine, 1 May 1990, SUN5500, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6acf830.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

The attached copy of Information Request #SUN3636 describes the present status of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (Uniate Church) in the USSR.

 There has been a relaxation in the attitude of Soviet authorities towards religious activity in the past year. [ "Case Study: Why the USSR is 'Not Free'", Freedom at Issue, January-February 1990, p. 15.] A new law on freedom has been drafted although not yet passed. [ Oxana Antic, "The Church in 1989", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 2, No. 4, 26 January 1990, p. 16.] According to a report in August 1989 the draft law contains the following key points:

 - the right of churches to exist as legal entities;

- the removal of restrictions on religious education;

 -the removal of the requirement that churches gain state permission before registering;

 - an alternative form of service for believers objecting to military service. [ Mark Beeching,"Kharchev Discusses Draft Law on Religious Freedom", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 1, No. 31, 4 August 1989, p. 3.]

Until the draft laws are passed, believers must continue to register their congregations. [ "Case Study", p. 15.] In 1989, Hare Krishna and Jehovah's Witnesses were permitted to register. [ Ibid.] Although religious education is "still technically outside the law" and persons who, in the past organized religious lessons for children "were relentlessly persecuted by the authorities", Sunday schools have sprung up in the Soviet Union. [ Oxana Antic, "Sunday Schools in the Soviet Union", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Report on the USSR, Vol. 2, No. 13, 30 March 1990, pp. 11-12.] These schools teach children and adults; classes on religion and Bible study have been opened in some universities. [ Ibid., p. 12.] In addition, charitable work in hospitals, homes for the elderly and psychiatric hospitals is now permitted. [ Gordon Legge, "Religion Returns to the USSR", The Ottawa Citizen, 14 April 1990.]

The "resurrection of religious freedom in the Soviet Union" [ Ibid.] applies not only to Christians but also to Jews and Muslims. [ Ibid.] According to one report "open hostility [to Islamic religious observance] has given way to a guarded endorsement of Islam as a social phenomenon and even as a positive political force." [ James Critchlow, "Islam in Public Life: Can This Be 'Soviet' Uzbekistan?", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Report on the USSR, Vol. 2, No. 11, 16 March 1990, p. 23.]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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