ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe reports on its response to the war in Ukraine

London, June 24, 2022

On June 21, the ROCOR Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe posted an update on its responses to the challenges faced as a result of the war in Ukraine:

“As the dreadful war in Ukraine continues still, the Diocese continues its extensive efforts to aid those suffering from the conflict, whether in Ukraine itself or in the many countries of our Diocese to which Ukrainian refugees have fled and continue to flee.

“The first and most important act undertaken by the Diocese is that of prayer, and petitions and special prayers for the cessation of bloodshed and the restoration of peace in Ukraine are offered in all churches of the Diocese at all Divine Services. Additionally, as from the outset, all Orthodox faithful of the Diocese are charged to pray also in their homes, with their families, for these ends—and special prayers have been provided by the Diocesan Administration for such home use.

“Secondly, practical aid to those suffering from this uncalled-for and evil fratricidal war continues to be offered in a multitude of ways by the Diocese. From the outset of the war, funds have been collected and transferred in large quantity to the humanitarian fund under the direct headship of the Primate of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. These funds have been put towards the wholly humanitarian ends of helping those most suffering from the conflict, and not applied towards any military or political ends.

“Attention has since heavily focused on additional means of providing practical aid to the suffering. What follows is not an exhaustive listing, but merely a representative indication of the types of concrete actions currently being undertaken by the Diocese:

“Coordination, through several parishes and across several countries in the UK and Europe, of aid in relocation to individuals and families arriving from Ukraine as refugees, including helping in finding accommodation, transportation, enrolment in schools for children, etc.

“Establishment of a legal charity in Europe to assist refugees in obtaining appropriate legal status in the countries of their arrival.

“Liaising with local governments in various European states, to coordinate housing, learning of the local languages, reception of Government aid and support, etc.

“Weekly food-bank provision in Geneva to all those refugee families in need; and similar provision in various parishes all across the Diocese.

“Establishment of pious Ukrainian Orthodox refugees in our parishes across the UK and Europe, providing a stable and familiar environment of prayer and community; and in several cases, in coordination with the Church Hierarchy in Ukraine, inviting refugee clergymen to celebrate the Divine Services in our parishes.

“Provision of a summer camp in the Swiss Alps (to take place at the end of July) specifically for Ukrainian children who are refugees in Europe.

“Preparations, in conjunction with a charitable foundation in Kharkov, to receive some 40 Ukrainian children, orphaned by the war, in the Diocese’s retreat center in Switzerland, providing housing, professional social care, pastoral care, and additional forms of help.

“In various parishes in the UK and across Europe, organizing local sales and other activities to raise funds to send to areas of specific need in Ukraine.

“The collection of clothing, medical supplies and food to send to specific groups of hard-hit suffering within Ukraine itself.

“In addition to the above, and many other like activities, the Diocese also liaises as closely as possible with all its local governments, to ensure not only that it is a resource to those governments in providing aid and relief, but also to encourage local measures to help combat the negative and damaging effects of ‘anti-Russian’ sentiment in society at large, which has in many places both in the UK and Europe resulted in the bullying of children in schools, vandalization of Church properties, etc., which only adds to the sorrow of the present situation by bringing unjust aggression against the many Slavic peoples represented by our Church who, of course, have nothing whatever to do with the war.

“As a Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which for over a century has been an entirely autonomous Church headed by its Holy Synod in Manhattan (while, since 2007, being in Eucharistic communion with all other autonomous and local parts of the Russian Orthodox Church as a whole, including both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, from which it nevertheless remains entirely administratively independent), continues in all its activities to strive to exemplify the Orthodox Church’s focus on fostering faith and peace in all its lands. The Church Abroad does not make political statements nor are political discussions entertained in our parishes; rather, each of our communities opens its doors to the more than twenty nationalities we represent, providing a sanctuary of prayer, community, and the fostering of peace—both in the heart and in the world.”

(A previous update on the diocese’s responses to the situation in Ukraine can be found here.)

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