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Church

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Refugees in Poland

March 31, 2022
By Theodore Kalmoukos and Anna Sarigianni

BOSTON/WARSAW – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew undertook a three-day visit to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. He was welcomed at Warsaw’s airport  by His Beatitude Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland Sawa, Primate of the Autocephalous Church of Poland, accompanied by the Archbishop of Wroclaw-Szczecin George and clergymen from the Warsaw area.

The Patriarch was also welcomed by Jakub Kumoch, Secretary of State in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland, Head of the International Policy Office and former Ambassador to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Turkey.

The spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Polish Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the head of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, and other clergy meet with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland, March 29, 2022. (Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference)

The Patriarch visited the St. Sophia Cathedral, which is an important cradle of Hellenism in the region, to attend a prayer service for peace in Ukraine, in the shadow of the Russian invasion. He distributed ‘komboskinia’ (prayer rope bracelets) and icons to all those present and blessed them. Coffee and delicacies were then offered in His All-Holiness’ honor in the church hall.

His All-Holiness visited the chapel in Warsaw where the Greek community in the city worships and met with community representatives. He visited Poland at the invitation of Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, and the Metropolitan of Warsaw Sawa. The Patriarch was accompanied by the Metropolitan Geron of Chalcedon Emmanuel and the Grand Syncellus Iakovos.

Duda thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch, saying, “it is a great honor for us to welcome His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople to our land, especially at such a difficult time. We have found shelter for the wives and children of the defenders of Ukraine. Today, His Holiness came to the refugees from Ukraine to bless them,” according to the Office of the President of Poland on Twitter on Monday.

The spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, right, and Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the head of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, stand together as they meet with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland, on March 29, 2022. (Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference)

Duda assured that the Poles, like most of the free world, from the first day of aggression against Ukraine, know who is the victim and who is the aggressor, who is defending the Motherland and who is killing innocent people.

“I assure you that all honest people present on our political stage express their gratitude for the visit of His All-Holiness to Poland, and all believers will join the prayer for peace in Ukraine,” the President stressed.

The Office of the President of Poland also reported that on Friday, April 1, Duda will attend an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

Patriarch Bartholomew said among other things: “Your Excellency,

I am sincerely delighted to have the opportunity to meet You and the First Lady of Poland in person, almost a year after Your visit at the See of the Church of Constantinople in Phanar.

“However, my visit here is neither any jubilant nor some festive occasion. My exclusive focus these days is to stand in solidarity and prayer with the millions of refugees who have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing unjustified and unjustifiable aggression as well as the horrendous and costly violence caused by Russia on their sovereign homeland of Ukraine.

Patriarch Bartholomew with Ukrainian refugees at the Roman Catholic Center ‘The Good Place’ in Warsaw. (Photo Grand Syncellus Iakovos)

“I am here to meet with some of the many refugees and to encourage those who are demonstrating the ultimate Christian virtue of love for their neighbor and charity for every stranger, in whom we are called to witness and welcome Christ Himself.”

Patriarch Bartholomew visited the parish of St. John of the Ladder, where he met with Metropolitan Savvas of Warsaw and held a memorial service for the former primates and hierarchs of the Polish Orthodox Church.

After a brief prayer and veneration of the Holy Cross, Metropolitan Savvas addressed a greeting to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Bartholomew, for his part, thanked the faithful who gathered in the church for their welcome and kind words. Addressing the people of Ukraine, he assured them of his prayers and support for the nation of Ukraine in this difficult period of war.

The Patriarch also attended a Doxology in the Chapel of St. Cyril and Methodius, the Metropolitan Church of Warsaw. There he had a meeting with the Greek community, with Orthodox priests, and with refugees from Ukraine who are housed in the Orthodox Cultural Centre of Warsaw.

He also went to the House ‘Good Place’ (Καλός Τόπος) of the Roman Catholic Church, where he met with refuge children and their parents. He spoke to them, blessed them, and gave them gifts.

Theodore Kalmoukos is reporting from Boston. Anna Sarigianni is in Warsaw and will then travel to Ukraine as part of The National Herald’s ongoing coverage of the Russian invasion.

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