I am sincerely delighted to have the opportunity to meet You and the First Lady of Poland in person, almost a year after Your visit at the See of the Church of Constantinople in Phanar.
However, my visit here is neither any jubilant nor some festive occasion. My exclusive focus these days is to stand in solidarity and prayer with the millions of refugees who have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing unjustified and unjustifiable aggression as well as the horrendous and costly violence caused by Russia on their sovereign homeland of Ukraine.
I am here to meet with some of the many refugees and to encourage those who are demonstrating the ultimate Christian virtue of love for their neighbor and charity for every stranger, in whom we are called to witness and welcome Christ Himself.
What I would like to emphasize first of all, Mr. President, is my personal gratitude – but especially the appreciation of the Orthodox faithful, and indeed the admiration of every decent human being – for the generous and compassionate hospitality of your historical and magnificent nation to those who were forced to flee Ukraine. The people of Poland understand very well what it means to suffer from war. But above and beyond this, the citizens of Poland respect the gifts of freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of education, freedom of economy, freedom of worship, and freedom of living.
Let me assure You that the entire world has watched as Poland – and other surrounding nations within this blessed continent – has literally opened the borders of its land and the depths of its heart to receive and comfort women and children, elderly and unaccompanied minors, and even pets. You did not just consign your refugee neighbors to tents and camps; you embraced them in your places of residence and your living rooms.
All of them are distressed about the past and fearful about the future. All of them need our reassurance and assistance, our support and encouragement. All of them are vulnerable to hunger and homelessness but also to exploitation and trafficking. And in the middle of this unbelievable and unacceptable crisis, the state and people of Poland stand out as a model of decency, of philanthropy, and of hospitality.
May God bless all of you and your loved ones abundantly. May all humankind learn from and imitate your extraordinary example. Only such genuine love and unconditional solidarity can conquer any and all evil and darkness in our world.
Once again, thank You, Your Excellency and the First Lady, for your warm welcome!