Toast of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I at the Official Banquet Hosted by His Eminence Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev (July 27, 2008).
Most Reverend Metropolitan of Kiev and All Galicia, beloved brother and co-celebrant Vladimir,
Esteemed and most beloved Fellows,
With the divine liturgy that we today celebrated, together with Their Beatitudes, our beloved brothers and Prelates of the Autocephalous Churches, and your most beloved Reverence Metropolitan of Kiev, and of the other beloved brothers, the festivities of the one thousand and twenty year anniversary of the collective baptism of the Kievites which signified the entrance of the Ukrainian people and the rest of the Russian tribes into the Church of Christ have reached their climax. Around the holy altar, united in one ecclesial body indiscriminately of national or linguistic differences, we confessed in one mind and love our one faith and orthodox piety, we preached unanimously our one hope to the one Lord and God, and we partook of the one Chalice and the one Bread of life and the salvific blood of the only Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Glory be to God who gave us this great blessing.
However, our joy is far from being complete: many dear children of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy, for many reasons the examination of which is not of the present moment, were unable to participate of the faith’s common banquet and of the common feast for the great anniversary, finding themselves, as they ought not, outside the canonical ecclesiastical structure and hierarchical order. This is exceedingly sad because it tears apart the seamless tunic of our Lord; it divides His mystical body and gives to the enemies of our faith the chance to ridicule the Church by repeating, and not unjustly, the saying by St. Paul “can Christ be divided?” (I Cor. 1:13). This division amounts to the abolition of the church whose very name is a name of unity and gathering into one place. It is heard, therefore, loudly in the ears of each one of us the demanding voice of God “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words” (Deut. 4:10), and again: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). We know that you, most reverend Metropolitan of Kiev Vladimir as well as the Hierarchs around you, have always your ears attuned to the will and the commands of the Lord, you burn by the love for the flock that was entrusted to you and you work with eagerness, zeal and the fear of God in order that those of the children who, for the time being, are outside the holy walls of the Church return in the fold of the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The same is true for His Beatitude and most beloved and esteemed Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexei II. It is a fortune that both the esteemed Ukrainian State and His Excellency, the President of Ukraine, desire fervently the extinction of every disruptive and divisive tendency, the abolition of every schism and the unity of all the pious orthodox Ukrainian into one flock according to God’s will. We are confident that each, as it befalls him, will do whatever is possible to achieve that holy and God-loving goal.
Most reverend beloved brother Metropolitan of Kiev, our presence here after the generous invitation of His Beatitude, the Patriarch Alexei and His Excellency, President YUSHCHENKO has the meaning of a brotherly support and a willingly contribution, as the holy canons mandate, of the Mother Church of Constantinople to the efforts of your Reverence and of all the ecclesiastical officers who have the same good faith and good will so that soon a day will rise in Ukraine “a day full of joy and delight,” when one God-awarding mindedness will prevail among the faithful. We came to your beautiful country and to the blessed city of Kiev in order to rejoice with you on the great anniversary and grant you from our heart the support of our love. We came in order to wish wholeheartedly that Orthodoxy might be glorified in your esteemed persons and your God-loving works. We came in order to receive the blessing of the holy Prince Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles, after whom you are worthily named, and of St. Olga as well as the prayers of all the saints that were found pleasing to God in Ukraine either through their martyrdom, or through their confession or through the ascesis or through their good shepherding and their infallible teaching of the holy dogmas. We came also in order to crown your people with the blessings of that Church which had the privilege a thousand twenty years ago to lead your people in Christ, to make the Gospel known to them, to give birth to them by water and Spirit, to nourish them with the holy sacraments and to make them fellow citizens of the Saints and heirs of the God’s kingdom.
We thank you warmly for your love, hospitality and for this brotherly banquet. We beg you that your prayers protect us and the Church of Constantinople which is always found in trial and her children throughout the world, and we raise the cup to your health, to longevity and to the peace and stability of the holy church of Ukraine. At many years most reverend and beloved Brother!