by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
Head of the Patriarchal Delegation
during the official Luncheon in Kiev
Your Excellencies the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia,
Your Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, together with your venerable Hierarchy,
Your Eminences, Father and Brothers,
Having only just tasted “the immortal table, in the upper room and with upraised hearts,” behold we are all now enjoying the organized events of the historical celebrated sacrament of baptism in this very place and the entry into the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church by the Kievan Rus, and subsequently of the other neighboring nations, Russian, Belarusan and many others; behold then, we are enjoying a generous hospitality in the Orthodox household of Ukraine around this table with foods and goods of the earth.
As we also said the other day in Moscow, today we repeat here as well during this important and historical moment, speaking on behalf of the one who sent us as the Patriarchal Delegation, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Mother Church also of the Orthodox Ukrainians:
“As creator of the Wisdom before all ages, the heavenly Father generates the seed of its ways and creates numerous works,” such as those “mystically achieved” over one thousand years and longer in Ukraine, for the glory of God and benefit of the Church’s fullness.
The Word, uncreated by nature, “appropriates the voices” of the human leaven that he assumed. And in Orthodox Ukraine today, which finds itself in material success, prosperity, independence and democracy, there are “many voices,” primarily human, which erect “barriers” in the virtue of Orthodox unity and thereby of the Ukraine nation. There are indeed such “voices” that are heard, brother Orthodox Ukrainians, which stubbornly persist in human weakness and cannot transcend circumstances and lead everyone to the unity, to which we are called by the Holy Spirit on the fearful day of Pentecost and, since then, are constantly to abandon all forms of “Babel” in our hearts.
We assure all of you today, during this historical occasion, before God and people, before everyone participating in this important banquet, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate – thanks to whose effort and fortitude the blessed Ukrainian nation was Christianized and baptized in the Orthodox way, and ever faithful in its obligation, responsibility and mission as Mother Church, as well as from its position within the unified Orthodox Church – always moves always in a single direction, namely the protection and preservation of Orthodox unity in its local jurisdictions and as a united ecclesiastical body. This is how it also acted during the adventurous millennium and longer historical journey of the Ukrainian Nation – particularly during the milestones of the periods 1920-1925 and from 1991 to this day – when it demonstrated intense efforts to transcend the difficulties and human weaknesses in order to achieve unity among the Orthodox clergy and laity. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will continue this sacred obligation, working with all those who are able and desire to do so for the sake of overcoming divisive situations for the single body of the Orthodox Church in this nation and achieving unity under one shepherd in order that God’s will may ultimately be done. For God’s will is that there should be one “Flock,” honored, recognized and respected by all under the one Shepherd Jesus Christ with His chosen and standing Bishops, who are canonically recognized as being in His “example and place.”
We convey to you today this message of love, peace and unity from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the devout Orthodox Ukrainian people, its spiritual and political leadership, and to all those who desire its benefit. We congratulate all of you on this blessed, joyous and historical anniversary; and we pray with all Their Beatitudes, the First-Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches and their representatives, with all the Hierarchy of the Most Holy Church of Russia under His Beatitude Patriarch Kiril of Moscow and All Russia, and all brother Hierarchs in Ukraine headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and all Ukraine, that the Lord may deem all of us worthy, “after approaching the mystical altar with fear and purified soul in order to receive the bread and dwell with our Master, that we might observe how He washes the feet of His disciples and wipes them with His towel in order that we may do as we see, humbling ourselves before one another and washing each other’s feet.” We convey to you this message from Constantinople, a message of kenotic love, through which alone shall we all – and especially all the Orthodox Ukrainians – become worthy during similar celebrations in the years that lie immediately before us to be united and “together to glorify the All-Holy Spirit,” so that heaven and earth may rejoice.
Your Beatitudes, Your Excellencies, Brothers and Fathers,
United in the bond of love with the Apostles and all Orthodox faithful, we submit ourselves to Christ as the Lord of all, we transmit the good news of peace to all our brothers, and we raise this toast on behalf of all my accompanying brother members of the Patriarchal Delegation from Constantinople for the health and welfare of all people in God without exception, for the prosperity and blessing of the initiatives and illumination by God of the world’s powerful leaders, especially those who have been assigned by God with the “protection” of Ukraine, and we wish upon all of you “the powerful strength of love.” Amen.