Moscow, July 3, 2017
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople recently addressed the Ukrainian people, urging them to unity and peace, of which St. Vladimir the Great can serve as a foundational example for them. The primate addressed the Ukrainian people through Ukrainian media with a statement that is also posted in full on the patriarchate’s site.
The prelate of Constantinople opened his messaged with a timely reminder to journalists that their job is to report the truth that people might “understand better the challenges and situations in which they live.” As he notes, journalists thus have a great responsibility. Journalists who spread lies cease to be journalists, but became “organs of influence,” but especially Christian journalists are called to speak only the truth, “in order to serve faithfully our Lord Jesus Christ,” His All-Holiness writes.
Recalling his warm affection for Ukraine over his 25 years of patriarchal ministry, including his 2008 visit to Ukraine, and the ongoing contact between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian people, and the historical circumstances in which the Ukrainian people received Baptism from Constantinople at the time of St. Vladimir, Patriarch Bartholomew writes that the Ecumenical Patriarchate “mains forever the Mother Church of the Ukrainian people,” and therefore, “As a loving mother, the Mother Church can never forget her spiritual children, especially at moments of trial and difficulties.”
He goes on to remind the Ukrainian people of his prayers for peace and an end to the ongoing fratricidal war in the country. In calling them to peace and unity, Patriarch Bartholomew invokes the great figures and moments of Ukrainian history that should serve for them as great examples. Yaroslav the Wise, the son of St. Vladimir the Great, founded churches and monasteries and issued a law code based on Christian principles, and, as the patriarch reminds, in an effort “to prevent a power struggle among his five sons by dividing his empire among them. Apprehending the danger that could ensue from divisions between brothers, he exhorted them to live in peace with each other. Unfortunately, the advice of the wise father was not followed, and divisions resulted, which weakened the Kievan state.”
The adoption of a state religion by St. Vladimir and Yaroslav the Wise was intended to lead to peace and stability, and so the Ukrainian people of today, so mired in in-fighting, ought to look to these great men of history for inspiration. “It is this same spirit of unity that we fervently pray and hope for in order that it might also prevail in Ukraine,” the patriarch writes.
In closing, His All-Holiness invokes the apostle Paul to call upon the Ukrainian people to be of one mouth and heart: “For this reason, we make our own the words of the Holy Apostle Paul to the divided Church in Corinth: Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).