|Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is welcomed at the Boryspi airport by Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko.
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered the following statement upon his arrival at the Boryspi airport on Friday, July 25, 2008, for celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Kiev-Russia to the Orthodox Christian faith:
"Your Excellency the President of Ukraine,
Brothers and Children in Christ our Lord,
"It is with great joy that we visit today and for three days the glorious Ukraine and its beautiful capital, Kiev, a city of green.
"We have come, together with our esteemed entourage, as bearers of the Mother Church's blessing, the Holy and Great Church of Christ, to her beloved children here to whom she has given birth in Christ one thousand and twenty years ago.
"We have come as pilgrims and admirers of Ukraine's eternal glory.
"We have come to see the Dnieper River, your own Jordan, in which your forefathers were baptized.
"We have come asking the blessing of St. Vladimir and the countless other saints, ascetics, and confessors of your country and honoring the memory of those who were martyred during the difficult years of the atheistic regime. We have come to bow our heads before the tragic victims of the Holodomor.
|Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is greeted by Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and blesses new bells for the Kievan Caves monastery. (Photos by D. Panagos)
"We have come to pray together with you for the unification of all Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine to one Church, the Church of your people, the Church of your country.
"We have come as angels of peace and preachers of unity, reconciliation and peace.
"Having glorified God, the Giver of every good, we thank His Excellency, President Viktor YUSHCHENKO for his kind and honoring invitation, as well as His Beatitude and Holiness Patriarch Alexei II, the concelebration with whom we joyfully anticipate.
"We thank warmly Their Excellencies, the President of the Parliament, the Prime-Minister and the Ministers of her cabinet, the other authorities of the country, the Ambassadors of Turkey, Greece and of the other countries that you receive us here with such honor, an honor that reflects on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, an institution with a life and history of seventeen centuries, which we have the honor and the blessing to serve and represent.
"We are glad to be able to look at your faces. We pray that God may protect you and grant prosperity and peace to your country. We thank you for your warm reception, a reception fitting to children for their father. We bless you from our heart, personally and on behalf of the Church of Constantinople, the Church that became your Mother ten centuries ago and remains today and always your Mother. A Mother that cares for you, loves you, rejoices with your joy and is saddened by your sadness.
"Brothers and Children! Christ is in our midst by the intercession of St. Vladimir.
Peace be to all!