Your Excellencies, the political and ecclesiastical leaders of the Orthodox people of Ukraine; Beloved and precious Orthodox Ukrainian faithful: Слава Ісусу Христу!
The Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ of Constantinople regards the Ukrainian nation and people as Her precious sons and daughters, born from the baptismal waters that flowed through the banks of the Dnepr River. From the days of our brilliant predecessor, Saint Photios the Great, the love of the Mother Church for the pious Christians of your lands has never abated.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognizes the difficult challenges facing the blessed Ukrainian people today. Furthermore, it acknowledges the deep scars and open wounds from the grievous Holodomor, the World Wars of the 20th century, and the pressure on a nation emerging from decades of totalitarian tyranny.
This is why we take this opportunity, on the celebration of our Lord’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to exhort all the pious Orthodox Christians of Ukraine that they maintain “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4.3) The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, for as He Himself told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18.36) In the “triumph” that is foreshadowed on Palm Sunday, we celebrate the victory of love over hatred, of truth over falsehood, and of life over death.
We believe that the goodwill of the Ukrainian people will succeed in bringing healing and ultimate reconciliation. As for the enduring ecclesiastical controversies, we know that by the Grace of God and the agreement of the Heads of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church will be convened by us here in the year 2016. It is our wholehearted hope and prayer that, by that time, all divisions may be healed for the sake of the unity of the Ukrainian people.
We encourage you to place your faith in the words of the Psalmist: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the hem of his garments; as the dew of Aermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Sion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Ps. 133)
Beloved children of Ukraine, from our Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne, we paternally exhort you to face the trial of your current hour with steadfast hearts and brave minds. On this Palm Sunday, allow the words of the Holy Apostle to fill you, for “the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4.7) May the God of mercy and all consolation save and bless Ukraine, Orthodoxy, and all His people. Amen.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Palm Sunday 2014
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
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