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Patriarch Bartholomew: To remain silent in the face of the cruelty of war is shameful!

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“War is always destructive. To remain silent in the face of the cruelty of war is shameful! It is our duty and mission to protect and promote peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). With these words, His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew began his short address to the International Summit for Peace in Ukraine, which was attended by leaders and representatives of about one hundred countries and international organizations, and which took place on June 15-16, 2024, in the Bürgenstock resort , Switzerland.

The Patriarch emphasized the importance and value of dialogue, which, in his words, is the driving force of this conference.

Regarding the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, he emphasized that the Ecumenical Patriarchate responded to the “pastoral needs of the Orthodox believers in Ukraine”: “On January 5, 2019, in response to the pastoral needs of the Orthodox believers in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate decreed the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as an autocephalous or self-governing ecclesiastical entity independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. And we did this despite all the difficulties and at any cost, because we firmly believe that Orthodox Christians in Ukraine deserve their own church voice. We are all here to support a just and lasting peace in a sovereign Ukraine. May God rest in peace all those who tragically lost their lives and give strength to all those who defend the peace.”

According to a press release, during the summit the Ecumenical Patriarch had the opportunity to meet and talk with the presidents of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, France Emmanuel Macron and Georgia Salome Zourabishvili, with the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Vatican Secretary of State Monsignor Petro Parolin, with Hakan Fidan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, and others.

An interesting detail of the picture of the meeting is the attempt to create a “problem” around the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who attended the meeting as a representative of Turkey, but with the flag of the Patriarchate. Turkey was represented by its foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, and by Patriarch Bartholomew. Highlighting the coverage of the “church participation” in the meeting in the pro-Russian media was the status of the patriarch, who participated with the title of Ecumenical Patriarch. In Turkey, however, his status is recognized only as “Greek Patriarch of Fener”. The presence of his signature as “Ecumenical Patriarch” under the general declaration led the Turkish authorities to emphasize again that they do not recognize Patriarch Bartholomew such a title and role in world Orthodoxy that was inherited from the Byzantine Empire, and he is only the head of the “Greek religious minority ” in the country and can only represent him. The Turkish foreign minister also denied having an official personal meeting with the patriarch within the framework of the conference. This position particularly impresses the Russian policy aimed at compromising and belittling the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at all levels and on all occasions.

Turkish media also noted that the Vatican, which attended with observer status through its secretary of state, did not sign the joint declaration signed by Turkey. South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico and the UAE did not sign the declaration. To date, the declaration has been signed by seventy-nine countries and six international organizations.

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