Homeland and Diaspora Politics

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church As a 'Church of the people', usually devoid of state sponsorship, the UGCC became very much identified with the Ukrainian national cause, especially as centuries of devastation (and a veritable 'brain drain' to the north and west) left the clergy as the only social elite. While on the one hand this enabled the Church to stand with the people in their daily struggles, it also engendered a deleterious ethno-centrism, from which the Church is emerging only now, after Ukrainian independence (1991). In post-Soviet Ukraine, the Church consistently endorses democratic values while avoiding conspicuous political roles. Should the government become more authoritarian, this endorsement of democracy might bring the Church into conflict with the state. Outside Ukraine, western Canada is the only region where Ukrainian Catholics have played significant political roles, but naturally they do so as Ukrainian-Canadians rather than members of a religious group.

Syro-Malabar Church Syro-Malabars were avid supporters of the awakening of Indian consciousness in the run up to independence in 1947, and they have committed themselves repeatedly to what their literature calls 'the national resurgence and renewal'. In Kerala, they are a force to be reckoned with in politics, owing to their large social service and educational network, as well as their involvement in the media.

Recently the Church - along with Muslim communities - was subjected to clandestine surveillance and information-gathering by government circles hoping to control minorities.

Maronite Catholic Church The prominence of the Maronites in Lebanese politics derives from the community's historical evolution from a religious body into a polity. After the Lebanese civil war that began in 1975, factionalism and political disenchantment increased so much among Lebanese Christians that they began to turn again to the Maronite hierarchy for political leadership. The patriarch and bishops are especially trusted with three issues: the status of southern Lebanon, the economic crisis, and electoral reform. Since the Taif Agreement of 1989, the Maronite president's position was even weaker, thus making the hierarchy a natural focus of leadership. In the USA, Maronites have organized to influence American Middle East policy (e.g., the Syria Accountability Act).

Melkite Greek Catholic Church In Lebanon, Melkites play a moderating role between Muslims and Maronites, and are a respected political force in Syria. In Israel, the Church fully supports the Palestinian cause without, of course, condoning violence. Most Melkites insist that Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who was arrested and imprisoned in 1974 for transporting arms, was framed.

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