Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew warned on Sunday that the crisis in Ukraine could escalate into a third world war.
During his sermon after the Sunday service at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul he stressed that weapons were not the solution and can only bring about “war and violence, sorrow and death.”
He called on all religious leaders and those in positions of power, as well as all persons of goodwill, to strive for a peaceful resolution of the dangerously escalating situation in Ukraine
He appealed to all the parties involved to “follow the path of dialogue so that peace, stability, and justice can prevail in Ukraine.”
The Patriarch spoke in English before a congregation that included many diplomats from Eastern European countries and the Balkans, as well as a number of Ukrainians living in Istanbul, urging them to pray for peace in Ukraine.
Bartholomew visited Ukraine and its Autocephalous Orthodox Church
In August 2021, Bartholomew visited Ukraine for the first time and participated in festivities celebrating the 30th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence.
In January 2019, Bartholomew presented a decree of independence to the head of the nascent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, severing its centuries-long ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.
The move was hailed by many Ukrainians, who had resented the status of the Moscow-affiliated church. The push for a full-fledged Ukrainian church was bolstered by fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.
The conflict in the country’s industrial heartland erupted after Russia’s annexation in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and has killed more than 14,000 people since then.
Bartholomew was speaking a day before German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in Ukraine in a last-ditch effort to bring a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Monday’s visit comes as Western countries withdraw staff from their embassies in Kyiv, with many of them also urging their citizens to leave immediately.
Meanwhile, United States President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have reiterated their commitment to pursuing diplomacy to ease tensions, as Washington’s national security adviser warned that Moscow was looking to find a “pretext” for an attack.
Greece calls on its Diaspora in Ukraine to be on guard
Greece called on all Greeks living or planning to visit Ukraine to be in constant contact with the embassy in Kiev. On Monday, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced that two Greeks had been killed in Ukraine by three Ukrainian soldiers in an incident that occurred in Granitna, near the country’s eastern border.
In late January Greece affirmed its solidarity to the tens of thousands of Greeks living near the Crimea in Ukraine.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a one-day visit to the city of Mariupol which is the epicenter of Hellenism in Ukraine and which is located near the dividing line between Ukrainian and Russian troops.
Dendias stated that his visit to Mariupol, a few kilometers from the line of tension aims “to strengthen, at the behest of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Community that is here. A community of over 100,000 people.”