Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew warmly welcomed Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine today, January 27, 2023, at the Phanar.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, in his brief speech, expressed once again the support of the Mother Church to the Ukrainian people, condemning once again the ongoing war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
“Your presence among us is constant, mentally, through prayer, which unites us, but we are very happy when we have your physical presence, even for a while, from time to time, in our sacred Center. This time you came to us from Elder Rome, here to New Rome. We are pleased that you have had the opportunity to inform Pope Francis firsthand about what is happening in Ukraine. We hope that after your briefing at the Vatican, you personally and the other representatives of the religious communities of Ukraine, Pope Francis will have a clearer attitude towards the war in Ukraine. And putting aside political and diplomatic balances will be closer to you and will affect in favor of Ukraine many Roman Catholic countries, in which his word is heard. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and we personally were very natural from the beginning to condemn the unjust, unjustified, and diabolical war started by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
The Patriarch recalled that during his recent speech at an international conference in Abu Dhabi, but also in a message sent two days ago to a conference held in Athens, on the situation in Ukraine, he again strongly condemned the war.
Referring to the humanitarian aid sent by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that what was offered is little compared to what the people of Ukraine need and deserve to have.
“No matter what we and the whole world do for your troubled country, it will be little. It has been eleven months since the war began, and in that time, almost a year, the whole world admires your courage, bravery, and fighting spirit.”
He made special reference to the care taken by the Mother Church for the spiritual strengthening of the Ukrainian Orthodox living in Constantinople, for whom, as he said, the Patriarchate took care to appoint a permanent Ukrainian priest in order to serve their worship needs. He underlined the good cooperation with the present Ambassador of Ukraine to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, and Consul General in Constantinople, Roman Nedilskyi, to support Ukrainians living in Turkey. He also referred to the recent visit of former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, the Epiphany, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
“We assure you of our closeness to you and our readiness to do our best to alleviate your pain and the agony your people are experiencing,” the Patriarch said.
Tomorrow, when you return to Kyiv, Your Beatitude, please convey to the President, His Excellency Mr. Zelensky, to his associates, and to all your faithful, the blessing of the Mother Church, our love, our affection, our support.”
On his part, the Metropolitan expressed his joy, which once again visits the Center of Orthodoxy, as well as his gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch for his multifaceted support to the Ukrainian people during this difficult period of the war.
“Today Ukraine is going through a difficult stage of testing. We chose the European direction of our course and for this choice, we pay a heavy price. Every day, not only our soldiers are killed, but also ordinary civilians and children. Yesterday we were attacked by Russia, both in Kyiv and in other cities, with casualties of ordinary citizens. The enemy is terrorizing Ukraine. Because it’s not successful on the front, it’s destroying our infrastructure. That is why millions of Ukrainian citizens are today without electricity, without water, which are necessary for their lives. Nevertheless, we remain united. And we say that we can survive without electricity and water because we will do everything for our victory. And we are confident of our victory. I always say that morally we have already won. Because from the beginning of the invasion, even our friends didn’t think we could afford it. Some would say three days, one week, or three weeks at most Ukraine will last. But we struggle, and we know that truth and good always triumph. That is why we will win and then there will be a just peace in Ukraine. Thank you for your support. We feel, especially at this time, the support of the Mother Church, and we thank you for expressing it from the first day, and for clearly saying that this war is not holy but diabolical.”
Subsequently, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Metropolitan had a private meeting, which was attended by Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, on behalf of the Mother Church, and Archbishop Evstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, as well as by Ecclesiarch Aetios, Director of the Patriarchal Office.
Earlier in the morning, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended the Divine Liturgy, on the feast of the translation of the Holy Relics of Saint John Chrysostom, during which Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine presided over the Divine Liturgy.
Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra, Archbishop Evstratiy of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, Metropolitan Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria, Metropolitan Ioakeim of Bursa, and Metropolitan Benjamin of Tralleon, the Ambassador of Ukraine, Vasyl Bodnar, together with Consul General Roman Nedilskyi, and their wives and associates, members of the Ukrainian community and other believers from Constantinople, as well as pilgrims from abroad, attended the service.
Photos: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate