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Patriarch Bartholomew Conveys Support for Ukraine to Olena Zelenska

Patriarch Bartholomew Ukraine Russia
Olena Zelenska, the spouse of Ukraine’s President, met with Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople on Sunday. Credit: Ecumenical Patriarchate

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed his support for the people of Ukraine as he received Olena Zelenska, the spouse of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Sunday.

Bartholomew expressed the support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Ukrainian people, who have been severely tested by the war and who with vigor and determination are defending the territorial integrity of their homeland. He expressed hope that the war would soon end and peace would be restored in Ukraine.

Olena Zelenska thanked His Holiness for his concern and support for the people of Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Bartholomew strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We stand and suffer alongside the pious and courageous people of Ukraine that bear a heavy cross,” he had said. “We pray and strive for peace and justice as well as for all those who are deprived of these.”

“It is unimaginable for us Christians to remain silent before the obliteration of human dignity,” the Patriarch wrote.

Just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Patriarch had warned that the crisis could escalate into a third world war. He had stressed that weapons were not the solution and can only bring about “war and violence, sorrow and death.”

Bartholomew criticized the Russian church over its stance on the Ukraine invasion

Bartholomew has also criticized the stance of the Russian Orthodox Church and its leader Archibishop Kyrill.

“It would not be possible for all the Churches not to condemn the violence, the war,” he said in a recent interview with Greek public television broadcaster ERT. “But the Church of Russia let us down. I did not want the Church of Russia and Brother Patriarch Kirill to be this tragic exception.”

“I don’t know how he can justify himself to his conscience,” he further added. “How he’ll justify it, how history will judge him. He had to stand up for himself. Because one can object to being pressured by President Putin. He should react to the invasion of Ukraine and condemn the war as all the other Orthodox Primates did.”

“He did not, that is to his detriment and I am very sorry,” he maintained. “We may have had other differences, the one known for the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine, the one we have had for centuries because the Russian Church covets the primacy of Constantinople, and undermines the foundations of the throne of Constantinople, but I expected brother Kirill at this critical, historic moment to rise to the occasion.”

“If it is required to even sacrifice his throne, and tell Putin, Mr. President, I cannot agree with you, [and] I resign…I leave,” Bartholomew asserted. “Or put him in jail, I don’t know what President Putin would do if the Patriarch reacted to his plans, but that is what we, the other Primates, would expect.”

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