Address by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the visit of the President of the Ukraine (October 28, 2008)

Your Excellency,
Mr. Viktor Yushchenko,
President of the Ukraine,

It is with great joy and paternal pride that we welcome you – in the distinguished company of venerable hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne and official guests from the Ukraine – to the Patriarchal Church of St. George, spiritual home of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is not the first time that you have honored the Mother Church with your esteemed presence. Indeed, your official visit to our country of Turkey also marks the third time that we have been graced by your respected presence. We are, therefore, most grateful for your kindness in always remembering both our Modesty and the Great Church of Constantinople.

Your Excellency, the memories of your own most generous and magnificent hospitality in Kiev only this past summer are still fresh in our minds; in fact, that occasion will forever gratefully remain sealed in our minds and in our hearts. More especially, however, with this unique gesture of the presentation today of these commemorative coins, which have been minted on the occasion of our visit last July at your gracious invitation to the hallowed land of the Ukraine, the days that our entourage and we spent with you and your worthy coworkers will now once for all be sealed in the pages of history.

It is, moreover, not merely coincidental, but indeed most appropriate that this memorable presentation occurs within the walls of this sacred Patriarchal Church, which only some days ago welcomed the Heads of the Orthodox Churches throughout the world and hosted their extraordinary Synaxis. During that historical event, the plenary of Orthodox hierarchs was privileged also to include our brother in Christ, the most reverend Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, both marking and highlighting the prevailing spirit of unity among Orthodox Churches of the entire oikoumene.

This spirit of unity is at once a fragile treasure as well as a gift from above, which has been entrusted to us by the Trinitarian God for our safekeeping and delight. It is this same spirit of unity that we fervently pray and hope for in order that it might also prevail in the Church of Ukraine, where both we as Mother Church and you as its state leader together seek the unity of the local Church. In this regard, we hereby pledge to you our sincerest and wholehearted efforts and commitment for a truly united Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Welcome, Mr. President!