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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Speaks At Summit On Peace In Ukraine, President Zelensky Expresses His Gratitude

On Sunday, June 16, 2024, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the International Summit for Peace in Ukraine, which was held in Bürgenstock in the Canton of Nidwalden in Switzerland. Around 100 states and international organizations sent their highest-level representatives to the Summit; His All-Holiness, who appeared at the official invitation of Her Excellency Viola Amherd, the president of the Swiss Confederation, was the only religious leader who was invited to the Summit.

At the Summit, His All-Holiness stated: “War is always destructive. To remain silent in front of the cruelty of war is a shame! It is our duty and mission to defend and promote peace. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’” (Mat. 5:9) His All-Holiness also declared that “The driving force behind this Summit has been the emphasis on and the power of dialogue,” and explained that he granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine in January 2019 “because we firmly believe that the Orthodox Christians in Ukraine deserve an ecclesiastical voice of their own.” 

The Summit on Peace in Ukraine was initiated by President Amherd in partnership with His Excellency President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Accompanying His All-Holiness at the Summit were His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Geron of Chalcedon; His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Switzerland; and the Very Reverend Grand Ecclesiarch Aetios, Director of the Special Patriarchal Office.

On Saturday, June 15, 2024, President of Zelensky met with His All-Holiness on the sidelines of the Summit and thanked him for his support for Ukraine as it defends itself from the aggression of the Russian Federation.

On the Telegram messaging app, President Zelensky wrote: “I met with His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Thank you for your humanitarian support for Ukraine, especially in the matter of the return of Ukrainian children and the exchange of prisoners. Thank you for your prayers for peace and your help for Ukrainians who have suffered as a result of Russian aggression. This is very important to us. We also appreciate the efforts of His All-Holiness to promote the development and strengthening of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and the dialogue with the clergy of the countries of the world and partner states on this issue.”

According to the Ukrainian President’s official website, Zelensky also expressed gratitude to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for working to increase the participation of the nations of the world in the Global Peace Summit.

President Zelensky has visited His All-Holiness at the Phanar in Constantinople in August 2019 and July 2023. The First Lady of Ukraine, Mrs. Olena Zelenska, also visited His All-Holiness at the Phanar in October 2022. In February 2022, President Zelensky telephoned Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and briefed him on the situation in Ukraine since Putin’s military attack.

After the July 2023 meeting, His All-Holiness issued a statement saying in part: “We expressed the desire that peace would come soon, because war is a bad thing for everyone. We said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the Mother Church of the Ukrainian Orthodox, is always on their side.”

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