UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Metropolitans of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Canada Visit Ukraine for the Observance of 1000 Years of the Repose of Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr
Upon the Invitation of the president of Ukraine, the primates of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Canada, representing His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch, traveled to Ukraine on July 27-29, 2015 in order to participate in the observance of 1000 Years of the Repose of Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr.
On the eve of the formal celebration – July 27, 2015, representing His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Metropolitan Antony and Metropolitan Yurij met with the Prime Minister of Ukraine Areseniy Yatsenyuk. During the meeting the parties have discussed cooperation of the Ukrainian Diaspora with Ukraine, the development of church-state relations, social, charitable and missionary activity of the Churches of Ukraine. Special attention was paid to the problems of Christian unity in Ukraine.
On behalf of the Government of Ukraine and from him personally Arseniy Yatsenyuk asked the leaders of the Ukrainian churches in unity with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to convey gratitude to Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople for his steadfast and sincere attention to Ukraine and its people.
On Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 – the feast day of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr, the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and representing the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Beyond the Borders of Ukraine, met with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.
The President welcomed the spiritual leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in Diaspora in Ukraine.
“The Prayer of Ecumenical Patriarch and his unshakable position in defense of peace and unity of Ukraine helps us heal the wounds caused by Russian aggression and terrorism,” Petro Poroshenko said.
The Head of State noted that Ukraine is going through difficult and crucial times. Each day is an example of great service to the Motherland by the Ukrainian militaries in Donbas and the entire Ukrainian nation, which is doing everything possible to unite and overcome challenges, as stated by Petro Poroshenko. “Ukrainian people pray for the unity to be achieved in church life. All Ukrainians strive for the creation of local Ukrainian church. It is a dream that will help Ukraine become united and preserve principles and traditions,” the President emphasized.
In their turn, Vladyka Antony and Vladyka Yurij noted that it is a great honor for them to take part in today’s events. “The Patriarch asked two Metropolitans from Canada and USA to come to Ukraine and celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the repose of Grand Prince of Kyiv Volodymyr the Great with the people of Ukraine.” The hierarchs also noted that war in Donbas facilitated the unity of the Ukrainian nation. The representatives of Ecumenical Patriarch and UOC in Diaspora are hopeful that the dialogue on the unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches will be continued.
Later in the day, Metropolitan Antony and Metropolitan Yurij, upon the invitation of the President and his wife Maryna took part in the solemn meeting of the Nationwide Council of Churches and Religious Organizations "Law and Grace of the Ukrainian Land".
Addressing the attendees, the President urged the Ukrainian society to further preserve interfaith peace in the country. “Overcoming division in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy has become a matter of all believers. The government is glad if there is a progress in the unification process. At the same time, it is upset when someone’s ambitions move us away from the great purpose,” the President said.
“The lack of organizational unity should not be an obstacle to dialogue, mutual understanding and Eucharistic unification. Especially in conditions of the Patriotic War of the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression," Petro Poroshenko said.
According to the President, the uniqueness of Kyiv Christian tradition, Ukrainian multi confessional space can be an example for many European states due to its tolerance. “I am grateful to the Nationwide Council of Churches and Religious Organizations for that. Our ability to unite lies in diversity. Our readiness to bravely counter Russian aggression is the best evidence of maturity and European identity of the Ukrainian nation,” the President said.
Petro Poroshenko urged representatives of all churches and confessions to pray for peace in Ukraine. “Two institutions enjoy the highest trust of Ukrainians today – army and church. It is the will of God who shows us how to defend the Homeland. I believe that the Lord is with us, with Ukraine,” the President noted.
His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij, while extending the greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and speaking on behalf of Metropolitan Antony and himself emphasized the historical significance of the relationship that the Church of Ukraine enjoyed over the centirues with the Mother Church of Constantinople. The Metropolitan called upon the religious leaders and the government of Ukraine to listen to the voice of the faithful, who seek unity and establishment of the united Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Head of State and his wife laid flowers to the monument of Volodymyr the Great. The event was also attended by Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Kyiv CSA Head Vitali Klitschko, as well as His Grace Bishop Daniel, who visited Ukraine at the same time for a number of meetings regarding the theological training of St. Sophia Seminary students in the USA.