Rome, October 2, 2023
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem is deeply concerned about the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict not only on the Orthodox Christian world, but on the global Christian community.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem expressed his concern during a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome on Friday. As the Mother of Churches, from which all subsequent Churches arose, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem “has taken a significant step towards fostering dialogue and reconciliation in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” the Church reports.
In the absence of any initiative from other Local Churches, Jerusalem earlier held a fraternal gathering in Amman, Jordan, in 2020 to address the various issues of Church unity that have arisen in recent years. It was attended by delegations from six Local Churches, though boycotted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and those Churches that follow it as their ethnic leader.
Now the Patriarchate hopes to start a another dialogue “that may lead to an end to suffering and to a healing within the Orthodox family.”
Pat. Theophilos stated in his address to the Pope:
As the Mother of all the Churches, the Rum Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has a special concern for the unity of Christians generally, and especially of the Orthodox Churches around the world. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the threat of schism in the body of the Orthodox Church, are matters of deep pain and difficulty not just for Orthodox Christians, but for the entire Christian world and for all people of good will.
In our life and witness in the Holy Land, we seek continually for reconciliation and peace. We have come to understand over centuries that true dialogue is the only way to effective reconciliation and lasting peace, and this has been our constant commitment.
It is in this spirit and mindfulness that we extend the hand and effort of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to our sisters and brothers in Ukraine and Russia, to mediate and do all that we can to initiate a dialogue that may lead to an end to suffering and to a healing within the Orthodox family.
This work will not be easy. The divisions that have occurred over the decades are deep. The wounds of conflict will take time to heal. And trust, once broken, is hard to restore.
But the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, that was built upon the redeeming blood of Lord Jesus Christ, understands all this. Our life down the generations has been forged in the same crucible. We are strangers neither to conflict nor to the new life that is possible beyond it. As Saint Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Ephesians
Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us…that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it (Eph. 14-16).
The journey in dialogue to reconciliation is our spiritual mission, and this is our wish for the Church and the peoples of Ukraine and of Russia. We stand ready to assist in any way that we can to help bring an end to conflict and suffering.”