Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew says "The whole world owes you a huge debt of gratitude." During Visit to Poland to Meet with Ukraine Refugees and Pray for Peace
W Warszawie miały dziś miejsce historyczne wydarzenia. Patriarcha Bartłomiej I wraz z @Abp_Gadecki https://t.co/HGbMeuNLy2. odwiedzili uchodźców z Ukrainy i wspólnie modlili się o pokój.— Mission Catholique Polonaise en France (@MisjaFrancja) March 29, 2022
Relacja: https://t.co/jhm3NJpcoW@EpiskopatNews @ChurchInPoland @rzecznikKEPpl pic.twitter.com/X6AF8ChaNc
His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,
His Eminence Senior Metropolitan of Chalcedon, Emmanuel,
Most Reverend Great Synkellos Iakovos,
We are honored by the presence of Your Holiness in Warsaw, at such a difficult time marked by the war in Ukraine. We thank you for Christian solidarity in our common plea for a just peace for Ukraine and the whole world.
On February 24 this year. the world was shocked by the alarming news that the Russian Federation had started a war against Ukraine. Since then, thousands of innocent people have been killed, including hundreds of children, old men, women and men who have nothing to do with the hostilities. Many actions of the aggressor bear the hallmarks of genocide. Some towns and villages were razed to the ground, hospitals and schools were bombed. All of this is happening in the early twenty-first century, one hundred years after the inception of the godless Soviet empire, and seventy-seven since the end of World War II.
It seemed that the traumatic experiences of World War II would be a sufficient warning for everyone. It seemed as if the empire of evil had crumbled irretrievably. It happened otherwise. The irrepressible lust for domination and the lack of respect for human life and human dignity led to the revival of the destructive demons of the past. Innocent people are dying, and those who survived have been deprived of a roof over their heads, the achievements of many generations, and especially deprived of a sense of security. In order to save their own and their families' lives, they are forced to abandon their homes and "wander" into the unknown.
In this war - ironically - two Christian, Slavic nations are fighting with each other, united by the same baptismal source. It is the baptism of St. Vladimir the Great, Duke of Kiev, who - in 988 - received him from Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East. Constantinople became the Mother of this new local Church, organized into an ecclesiastical metropolis with its headquarters in Kiev. After the painful break in ecclesiastical unity between Old and New Rome, the Orthodox metropolis of Kiev remained an integral part of the territory of the canonical Patriarchate of Constantinople until 1686.
Already in the 14th century, some of the hierarchy and the faithful of this Orthodox metropolis found themselves within the borders of the Kingdom of Poland, to which Red Ruthenia was incorporated. Over time, the ties linking the history of Poland with the Orthodox metropolis of Kiev grew stronger and stronger, and finally reached their apogee with the conclusion of the Union of Lublin in 1569, as a result of which the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were united. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was established at that time.
The Ukrainian nation is especially dear to us. As Christians, we cannot passively watch it doom. The churches consciously renounce the use of military weapons. Our weapon is faith in the infinite power of God's Mercy and the trusting prayer that flows from it for peace, for respect for human dignity and for the right of nations to self-determination. That is why we pray for a change of mind and spirit of aggressors. At this point I will repeat the words I addressed to His Holiness Cyril the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in my letter of March 2 this year: "No reason, no reason can ever justify the decision to start a military invasion of an independent country, bombing housing estates, schools, kindergartens or hospitals. War is always mankind's defeat. This war (...), due to the closeness of both nations and their Christian roots, is all the more meaningless. Is it allowed to destroy the cradle of Christianity on Slavic soil, the place of baptism of Rus? ”.
John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2000, wrote: “Wars often cause further wars because they fuel deeply entrenched hatreds, lead to injustice, and trample the dignity and rights of the human person. Usually, they do not solve the problems that are the subject of the conflict, and therefore turn out to be not only terribly destructive, but also useless (...) ”.
Therefore, I am calling, asking and begging all the Heads of Churches and Religious Communities and all people of good will: Let us be in solidarity in fervent prayer for an end to this war and any other war. Let our speech and our action on this matter be in line with the Gospel "principle of truth": "Yes, yes; no, no ", because" what is more is from evil "(Mt 5:37).
In Christ, we find each other as Sisters and Brothers in Christ. In him, we find true forgiveness and freedom of spirit. Only in Christ's Cross can there be hope to overcome the power of evil and to be freed from the chains of war torment.
Pope Francis, and with him the entire Roman Catholic Church, undertakes many spiritual initiatives, begging for peace for Ukraine and the whole world. Last Friday, the Feast of the Annunciation - in the Catholic Church - was a special day of prayer for peace, crowned with the act of consecrating the world, especially Russia and Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Let our prayer for peace for Ukraine and the whole world today be a gesture of spiritual, ecumenical solidarity with the tormented Ukrainian people. May he open our hearts to help refugees, all those who are injured and who need our support. May he awaken in us a spirit of forgiveness towards the tormentors. As Christians, let us jointly pray to God, who is Peace and the source of all peace, to break the hard hearts and minds of those who sow death and destruction.
Once again, I express my appreciation to Your Holiness both for today's presence among us and for all spiritual and paternal care shown to Orthodox Christians in Ukraine, many of whom have found refuge in Poland. On the part of the Catholic Church, I would like to assure Your Holiness that we will help our brothers and sisters from Ukraine not only materially but also spiritually, while maintaining due respect for their faith and cultural distinctness, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the principles of ecumenism and freedom of conscience and religion.
On this occasion, I would also like to thank the clergy, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church for all their help to refugees from Ukraine. In a special way, I would like to express my gratitude for your commitment to the great work of mercy towards those in need of the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Church, whose history and tradition are so closely connected with the Ukrainian nation.