Washington, D.C., May 23, 2022
Updated 5/23/22, 5:15 PM
On Friday evening, the Orthodox Church in America’s St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C. played host to an ecumenical evening of prayer and talks for peace in Ukraine.
The event, “Ecumenism as a Peace Movement: The Case of Ukraine,” brought together Uniate hierarchs and professors, a schismatic priest, and a priest of the OCA.
The Washington Theological Consortium describes the event: “While nations go to war, Christian churches can stand together to witness and work for peace. Cardinal Walter Kasper has called ecumenical dialogue a peace movement because it witnesses to and works for the reconciliation of all people made possible in Jesus Christ.”
“At this event, participants will hear from three leading figures of different churches involved with the citizens, refugees and the grieving of Ukraine.”
The evening began with a joint Orthodox-Eastern Catholic panikhida memorial service for those who have died in the war in Ukraine.
The talks, moderated by Dr. Sandra Collins of the Byzantine Catholic seminary in Pittsburgh, were presented by four speakers:
Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Philadelphia Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, President of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lvov;
Bishop John Michael Botean of the Eparchy of St. George of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, Co-patron of the Orientale Lumen Conferences, known as “the Peace Bishop;”
Archpriest Andriy Dudchenko of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” live from Kiev, “where he celebrates the eucharist and ministers to the war-torn every day;”
Archpriest Allessandro Margheritino, secretary of the Orthodox Church in America, representative of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon
The presentations were followed by a time for discussion and a reception. Participants were invited to donate towards refugee and citizen ministries in Ukraine.
UPDATE: A message from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, the primate of the OCA, was read at the event, reaffirming the OCA’s support for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine (the Synod officially denied recognition of the schismatic OCU in January 2019) and its objection to the war in Ukraine:
I greet you with joy as many of our churches continue to celebrate the bright and life-giving Resurrection of Christ.
But this joy is mingled with weary sadness as the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags toward a fourth month of fighting.
As primate of the Orthodox Church in America, I wish to state first of all that the Orthodox Church in America reiterates its unconditional condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Unjustified aggressive war is always a sin, but it is particularly scandalous when the conflict involves two nations that are, historically, bulwarks of Orthodox Christianity.
When a war involves not merely sister-peoples, but brethren in Christ, this should serve as a clarion-call to all Christians to reassess and reorder our priorities. We cannot put the world and the things of this world first; we must always begin with Jesus Christ.
At the same time, I would like to reaffirm the support of the Orthodox Church in America for His Beatitude, Onufriy, and canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. While we pray for all our Christian brethren in Ukraine, and especially for all Orthodox Christians, we know that Metropolitan Onufriy bears an especially difficult burden at this time.
It is our hope, for the sake of all Christians in Ukraine and Russia and all the people of both countries, that this war will come to a swift end, and that peace, justice, reconciliation, and religious freedom for people of all confessions will follow.
The stance of the Orthodox Church in America and its primate has been consistent: we have issued repeated calls for an end to the war, including appeals to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to do everything within his power to bring the conflict to an immediate conclusion.
But the Orthodox Church in America has also been active in providing humanitarian aid to the millions displaced by the Russian invasion. In collaboration with Eleos, the charitable organization of the Polish Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Church in America raised and distributed over $700,000 in relief for Ukrainian refugees in a campaign that lasted until April 8th, 2022.
The Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, recently traveled to Poland to witness firsthand the impact of the generosity of our faithful. At that time, he also made a fraternal visit to the Romanian Orthodox Church, offering them a gift of $10,000 from our church for the cause of supporting Ukrainian refugees in Romania.
Since the end of our Ukrainian refugee appeal in coordination with Eleos, we have actively encouraged our faithful to continue to contribute to Ukrainian refugee relief through organizations like International Orthodox Christian Charities.
I have personally issued special petitions, to be said by the clergy of our Church at all divine services, praying for peace, repose for the departed, succor for the living, and healing for all. The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has urged all of our faithful to pray with fasting for an end to the hostilities.
In short, the Orthodox Church in America has used and continues to use all means at our disposal—prayer and fasting, almsgiving, and relationships with our sister Churches—to support the victims of this war and seek an end to the conflict.
May God Almighty continue to uphold His Beatitude Onufriy, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, all Christians and all the people of Ukraine during this trial. May he strengthen all Russians of goodwill who oppose this war, actively or in spirit. May he bring healing to the hurting and inspire repentance in the guilty. May mercy and truth meet together; may righteousness and peace kiss each other. May the destruction, terror, strife, and sins of this war come to end, and may all peoples, reconciled with each other and with the God who judges the earth, send up glory to him, unto ages of ages. Amen.
May the same Lord support the work of this ecumenical gathering today, so that we may all do our part in ending this war and supporting its victims.