Ecumenical Patriarch expresses solidarity with Ukrainian refugees
By Linda Bordoni
“If my head was a spring of water, and if my eyes were a fountain of tears, I would weep all day and night for the slaying of my people,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, quoting from Jeremiah.
Referring to the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, he was speaking during a three-day visit to Poland at the invitation of President Andrej Duda and Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw after meeting with displaced persons and families who have found shelter in neighbouring Poland, that has taken in 2.3 million refugees in one month.
The Patriarch congratulated and thanked Poland for its generosity and hospitality and said: “the entire world owes you a profound debt of gratitude.”
Bartholomew was accompanied by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops' Conference.
The meeting took place on Tuesday, at Warsaw’s Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, which is home to about 90 refugees who shared their stories.
“Your solidarity,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said addressing his hosts, “is a heavenly gift, indeed – is the only thing that can overcome evil and darkness in the world.
The trauma of WW2 has not been a sufficient warning
On his part, Archbishop Gądecki thanked Bartholomew I for his solidarity and recalled the victims of the invasion on February 24 that has killed thousands of innocent people, destroyed homes, towns and villages, and caused millions to flee.
He lamented the fact that it seems that the traumatic experiences of two World Wars have not been a sufficient warning, and that "The unbridled lust for power and the lack of respect for human life and human dignity have led to the revival of the devastating demons of the past."
Archbishop Gądecki said that, ironically, in this war “two Christian, Slavic nations are fighting each other, and yet they have the same baptismal font: the baptism of St. Vladimir the Great, Prince of Kyiv, who, in 988, received it from Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East.
Prayers for peace
The Polish Archbishop implored all the heads of Churches and religious communities, as well as all people of goodwill to be united in prayer for an end to this war and to every other war.
He recalled that “Pope Francis, and with him the entire Roman Catholic Church, is taking many spiritual initiatives, pleading for peace for Ukraine and the entire world,” including last Friday’s Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
After the reading of a passage from the Gospel of St. John, the participants in the meeting prayed for religious leaders, “that they may become living examples of peacemakers,” for the faithful of other religions, for rulers, and in particular "for the rulers of Russia and Ukraine, that they may be guided by principles flowing from the Christian faith of their nations, for the speedy cessation of the war, for the healing of the spiritual and bodily wounds of all those who suffer as a result of this cruel war."
The prayer for peace ended with the recitation of the "Our Father" in English and Ukrainian and with the blessing of Archbishop Gądecki and Patriarch Bartholomew I.