(February 20, 2014)
Beloved children and friends in Ukraine and abroad,
It is with heavy heart that we have been following the ongoing and, indeed, only escalating tragic circumstances in Ukraine over the last weeks. We feel that our brothers and sisters in Ukraine are our own flesh and blood. “We endure the same sufferings that you suffer and we work with you for your joy,” as St. Paul says.
In our high responsibility as Ecumenical Patriarch, we are obliged to call for peace from the authorities in a democratic and independent nation, where its elected leaders – both in government and opposition – have the ultimate responsibility to protect the dignity of human life among its citizens. There is no room for brutality and bloodshed in a democratic nation of the 21st century.
In our pastoral and spiritual capacity as an Orthodox bishop, we are compelled to denounce all violence and aggression among police and protesters, which have led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life. All parties must at all cost choose dialogue over disorder and mediation over force. There is never room for abuse of power in a nation whose Christian roots date back to the first millennium.
Finally, in the wake of the anniversary last year, celebrating 1025 years since Christian faith and civilization was conveyed to the Kievan Rus by our own predecessors in the Church of Constantinople, we are compelled – in the name of the ethos and culture of the freedom granted by God to all people as a divine gift – to condemn the present relentless brutality and insist on a peaceful and reasonable solution to the internal problems of Ukraine for the benefit of its people and to the glory of God. May He guide the elected rulers of Ukraine toward this blessed end.
Dear friends, even as in the Orthodox Church we prepare for Great Lent with the forthcoming Judgment and Forgiveness Sundays, we call on every person of faith and of goodwill to pray and fast for truce and peace among our beloved and precious people in Ukraine.
“Grace to you all and peace from God our Father.” Amen.