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Archbishop Elpidophoros at Intercessory Prayer Service for Ukraine in Manhattan

NEW YORK – With messages of support for the Ukrainian people and an outright condemnation of the Russian invasion, the Intercessory Prayer for Peace in Ukraine was held on March 9, with the participation of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America along with Ecumenical leaders, political leaders, diplomats, and the faithful at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in Manhattan.

The interfaith ceremony was attended by His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of Hierapolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon, His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, New York Board of Rabbis Executive Director Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, and Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Mission of the Ukraine to the United Nations.

“Over the past two weeks, the world has watched Russia launch an unjust and violent invasion into Ukraine. During these turbulent times, we earnestly pray for those whose lives are affected by this brutal assault,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros.

“Violence is a sin in perfect contradiction with the vocation for which men and women were created,” His Eminence continued. “And this vocation is to carry the supreme legacy of God’s image while simultaneously growing in His likeness.”

“Therefore, no war can ever be called ‘holy’ or even ‘just’ in an attempt to rationalize it as morally acceptable,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said. “Today’s bloodshed in Ukraine must be set squarely on the shoulders of Vladimir Putin, who is risking global peace for his own selfish political agenda.”

We are witnessing an immence tragedy of human suffering, the targeting of civilians, the assassination and terror, and the deaths of innocents, especially children, yet we know that the Ukrainians and the Russians are both children nourished from the same breast. They are brothers and sisters… Ten days ago His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said the following: ‘We plead to end the war now, to immediately stop any act of violence, anything that spreads pain and death. Let reason prevail, love for fellow human beings, reconciliation and solidarity, the light of the risen Christ, the gift of life.’”

“In this same spirit, we join ourselves to these sentiments expressed by His All-Holiness and we exhort to the faithful to offer prayers but at the same time to offer tangible support for all the Ukrainian people. Those of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and those of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, Ukrainian Greek Catholics, those of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the Jewish communities, for those belonging to a religion, and for those without religion, and for all those who find themselves in the dire circumstances of war,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said.

He then thanked His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel and all those who joined the prayer service for peace in Ukraine. In response to the crisis, he also noted the major fundraising efforts launched by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for Ukraine.

For her part, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York is ready to receive Ukrainian refugees, with infrastructure in every corner of the state, making special reference to the active Ukrainian community.

The Intercessory Prayer for Peace in Ukraine was held on March 9 at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in Manhattan. Photo: TNH Staff

“When I look out at this room, yes, I hear the words of prayer on your lips, powerful, heartfelt words, but I also see tremendous pain in your eyes, just as I saw pain in the eyes of the Ukrainians I visited in Buffalo and Rochester over the last few days,” Gov. Hochul said. “I have tried to immerse myself in this community in a way like never before to understand the depth of passion that exists in this community but as I hear the prayer and I see the pain and sense the weeping in your hearts for the people left behind, I also sense defiance in your souls and that defiance is not just in churches and in places around our own state, but that defiance encapsulates what has captivated the world as we watch Ukrainians stand up, women grabbing weapons and going to the frontline, some taking their children to safety, but others saying, ‘I will stand with the men and we’ll fight back.’ Those are powerful images.”

She noted that “the images remind us that freedom is not free, and must be fought for and not taken for granted.”

“We have reached our arms out and those who seek comfort and must leave, and I know it will be temporary, but let the refugees come to New York, the home of the largest Ukrainian population in America, and it’s not just New York City, because there are homes and churches and relief services waiting in every corner of the state because I have made sure that they are ready,” Gov. Hochul said. “We will continue to stand with you and find any way we can to show that we are also united in support of democracy and against tyranny wherever it rears its ugly, evil head as it has with Putin’s attack on Ukraine.”

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, center, during the prayer service for peace in Ukraine held at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr in Manhattan. Photo: TNH Staff

All the speakers expressed the hope that the war would end soon.

Also among those present were H.E. Metropolitan Tikhon, Orthodox Church in America; Pastor Gil Monrose, NYC Mayor’s Office, Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships; H.E. Archbishop Gabriele G. Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; H.E. Archbishop Borys Gudziak, Ukrainian Catholic Archeparch of Philadelphia; H.G. Bishop David, President of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches; Rabbi Diana Gerson, The New York Board of Rabbis; Rabbi Noam Marans, American Jewish Committee; Rabbi Joshua M., Davidson, Temple Emanu-el; H.E. Miguel Angel Moratinos, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations; Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Kostantinos Koutras; and many other esteemed representatives of the Diplomatic Corps and members of Ecumenical and Interfaith communities.

The service concluded with a moment of silence and a hymn in memory of the Heavenly Hundreds.

More information about the Ukraine Relief Fund is available online: https://www.goarch.org/donate/ukraine.

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