The Polish archbishop noted that Ukraine and Russia were at war despite both tracing their Christian roots back to the baptism of Vladimir I, the grand prince of Kyiv, in 988.
“Ironically, in this war, two Christian Slavic nations are fighting each other, and yet they have the same baptismal font: the baptism of St. Vladimir the Great, Prince of Kyiv, who, in 988, received it from Constantinople, the capital of the Christian East,” he said.
Gądecki recalled a March 2 letter that he wrote to the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, in which he asked rhetorically whether it was “permissible to destroy the cradle of Christianity on Slavic soil, the place where Rus was baptized.”
The Russian Orthodox Church severed ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2018 after Patriarch Bartholomew confirmed that he intended to recognize the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
After the speeches, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the archbishop of Poznań, western Poland, went to the chapel to pray for peace.
After a reading from St. John’s Gospel, those present prayed for religious leaders to become living examples of peacemaking, for the followers of other religions, and especially for those in power in Russia and Ukraine.
They also prayed for eternal salvation for people who have died in the war and that God would show “great mercy to those dead who took part in this war with evil intentions.”
The prayer for peace ended with the recitation of the Our Father in English and Ukrainian and a blessing by Gądecki and Bartholomew I.
The meeting between the archbishop and the patriarch took place the day after Gądecki had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, at which he discussed Poland’s support for Ukrainian refugees.
Bartholomew I shares a close bond with Pope Francis, who has sought to strengthen Catholic-Orthodox relations since his election in 2013.
The patriarch met with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda on Monday, the first day of his visit to Poland. Duda is expected to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday.
(Story continues below)
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In a March 28 statement, Bartholomew I said: “Let me assure You that the entire world has watched as Poland — and other surrounding nations within this blessed continent — has literally opened the borders of its land and the depths of its heart to receive and comfort women and children, elderly and unaccompanied minors, and even pets.”
“You did not just consign your refugee neighbors to tents and camps; you embraced them in your places of residence and your living rooms.”
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