Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew congratulates Ukrainians on the occasion of the national holiday - Independence Day.
Greeting of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the 29th Independence Day of Ukraine 24 August 2020
On this day, we cordially greet the pious Ukrainian people with the 29th anniversary of the declaration of the independence of the Ukrainian State. History has bound Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the times of Kyivan Rus’. Indeed, at the end of the 10th century, the Holy Prince Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles, was searching for a faith that could unite his people and give them peace and justice, as well as hope for eternal life. He found it, through his legates, in Constantinople, at Saint Sophia, the basilica of the Divine Wisdom, where they attended the holy services and did not know, whether they were in Heaven or on earth.
Saint Vladimir took then the decision to Christianize his people, receiving the holy baptism from hierarchs and clergy of the Holy and Great Church of Christ who came from Constantinople. Thus, the Ecumenical Throne became the Mother Church of the Ukrainian people, and its Christianization brought Christian values to the society and elevated its civilization through letters, art and education.
A millennium has passed since then, a millennium of a rich, but sometimes dreadful, history, throughout which the Mother Church has always accompanied the God-loving Ukrainian people, appointing her hierarchs, blessing her leaders, educating her masters, and praying for her faithful. By the end of the particularly tragic 20th century, having celebrated the millennium of Christianization of Kyivan Rus, the Ukrainian people were blessed to recover their so-desired independence from the Soviet atheistic state, from which they had suffered so much.
And after more than a quarter of century of political independence, the pious Orthodox faithful of Ukraine were granted by the Ecumenical Throne to have their own autocephalous Church.
On this day of independence, we wish that the God-loving Ukrainian people eternally remember the faith of their forefathers, as suggested by the Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is said: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith”, so that the Ukrainian state may flourish in peace and justice, in love and unity, thus anticipating the Kingdom of Heaven. In this perspective, we bestow on you all – civil and ecclesiastical authorities, Christ-loving armed forces, members of the medical team, educators, and all citizens of good will – our patriarchal blessing, wishing you all “every good thing given and every perfect gift from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) for the prosperity and salvation of our beloved Ukrainian people.