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With immense joy, we welcome you – gracious spouses of Ukrainian Ambassadors – to our Venerable and Martryic See here at the Phanar. This gathering holds great significance as we celebrate the historical and spiritual ties between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukraine. Our bond has remained unbreakable throughout the ages, a testament to our shared cultural heritage and profound spiritual kinship.
This relationship started in the 10th century, when, as is well known, the Holy Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr) requested baptism for his people after his envoys saw the divine beauty of worship in the Great Church – Haghia Sophia. From that moment, the Church of Constantinople established an eparchy under its pastoral guidance. While there may have been difficult circumstances and periods of remoteness, your Mother Church has never forgotten its spiritual children, especially during such moments of trial.
Since assuming the Patriarchal Throne in the same year as you re-achieved independence, we have visited your hospitable country multiple times, including in 1997 while undertaking an ecological symposium cruise on the Black Sea, and in 2008, at the invitation of the then-President Viktor Yushchenko, for the one-thousand-twentieth anniversary celebrations of the baptism of Kyivan Rus’. On that occasion, we stated: “It is not only the right but also the obligation of the Mother Church to support, within the framework of the established Orthodox tradition, every edifying and promising proposal that would cure, as fast as possible, the dangerous divisions in the ecclesial body, ‘lest the evil becomes worse’ for the Holy Church of Ukraine and the Church in general.”
Following repeated appeals from both church and state leaders to the Mother Church to resolve the ecclesiastical issue in your homeland, together with the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod, we carefully studied the question in great detail. Subsequently, according to the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, we made the appropriate decisions to heal the schism there, culminating in the bestowal of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in January 2019.
Therefore, in August 2021, when we celebrated Ukraine’s 30th anniversary of independence from the Soviet regime, your courageous President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who invited us to participate in person, expressed the Ukrainian people’s gratitude for granting the autocephalous status to your country’s Church.
However, since February 2022, we observe daily, with dismay and sorrow, the unwarranted aggression of the Russian Federation against your sovereign state and its innocent civilians. We stand in solidarity with you and your suffering compatriots, including refugees and orphans. Last year, we visited those Ukrainians who had fled to Poland, offering consolation and hope and raising awareness of this tragedy. This assault, violating international law, distorts historical facts in an attempt to vindicate it, and continues to cause unnecessary bloodshed and other regrettable consequences.
As followers of Christ, we strengthen our prayers and reiterate the necessity for peace and unity. No Church or Christian can rationalize violence in the name of religion. Genuine Christians must be peacemakers, striving for reconciliation and solidarity, transforming threats into opportunities through dialogue.
Unfortunately, our brother, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, seeks to justify the unjustifiable, leading many clergymen in Ukraine to break away and join the new autocephalous Church under the prudent leadership of His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv. Abroad, this has led clerics to appeal to our Ecumenical Throne, thus demonstrating additional social fallout of the war.
At our Venerable Centre, we reiterate our paternal love and constant entreaties for you and all those suffering. May our Merciful God bless all civil and ecclesiastical authorities, medical teams, educators, refugees worldwide, and all Ukrainians with a well-deserved ceasefire and swift return to normality.
To you, cherished spouses of Ukrainian Ambassadors, we appreciate your invaluable contributions to fostering diplomatic relations during this difficult time. Your dedication builds bridges of friendship and understanding between nations and arranges much-needed and tangible support for Ukrainians, wherever they may be.
In closing, we hope that this meeting will remind you of the enduring friendship and adoration between our Sacred Institution and Ukraine, reinforcing our connection as we work for a world of peace and justice. We thank you and pray for amity and harmony for all of us as we aspire together for a better tomorrow.
May God bless you! Welcome!