It was late January and the uprising in Kiev had turned bloody. Negotiations between the protesters and the Yanukovych government had proven futile. And the Ministry of Culture had just days before threatened to punish the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church if its clergy kept praying with protesters in Independence Square.
Demonstrators had no trust in their government, but the head of the church felt they still had faith in their religious leaders.
“For us, that’s a big responsibility,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told The Globe and Mail this week, following a meeting in Ottawa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was imperative, he said, that the church exert its “moral authority” and foster dialogue. He met with then-president Viktor Yanukovych and with the three main opposition leaders, and then he helped get them in the same room.