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Ecumenical Patriarch: We pray for peace in war-torn Middle East and long-suffering Ukraine

The Resurrection of the Lord was solemnly celebrated at the Centre of Orthodoxy in accordance with the long ecclesiastical tradition and order.

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew led the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection in the courtyard of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, joined by Metropolitans Athenagoras of Vizi, Meliton of Philadelphia, Eirinaios of Myriofyton and Peristasis, Chrysostomos of Myra, Theoleptos of Iconium, and Theodore of Seleucia, alongside clergy from the Patriarchal Court. In his address to the congregation, with a special emphasis on the youth, he delivered a message of Paschal celebration and spiritual guidance.

He extended his heartfelt wishes for peace grounded in justice, reconciliation, and solidarity to prevail not only in the war-torn Middle East but also in the long-suffering Ukraine. In the same vein, he conveyed the endorsement of the Mother Church of Constantinople for the “Nash Vychod – Our Exodus” initiative, emphasising its significance in facilitating the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine. This initiative, occurring on the auspicious occasion of Easter, underscores the profound connection between the divine peace bestowed from above and the aspiration for peace to encompass the entire world. This would be a very specific expression of the power of the Resurrection.”

Specifically, the Ecumenical Patriarch said:

“Blessed People of God,
Christ is Risen!

From the radiant heart of Orthodoxy, the fully revived Phanar, we extend to all those gathered here and to the faithful of the Mother Church worldwide, a Paschal message brimming with love, joy, and hope.
The “Pascha of the Lord” is the proud victory of life and love over death. The risen Christ embodies the truth of humanity and all creation, representing the beauty that has redeemed and continues to redeem the world. As we sing in our sanctuaries, the risen Christ manifests the “great miracle” that heals the “great trauma” of humanity, revealing the ultimate purpose of our existence and our mission in the world. It is the certainty that the God of love guides history, where evil cannot have the final say.

This is why “Christ is Risen” encapsulates the essence of the Gospel message. Nothing in the world and in our lives is the same after the Resurrection. All things are renewed, brimming with dynamism, moving inexorably towards their ultimate perfection in Christ. Living “in the manner of the Resurrection” embodies the “good change,” a transformative shift that imbues our lives with liberating truth and a love that is genuine and free. The Resurrection of Christ bestows upon us the greatest gift, liberating us from the confines of self-absorption, and illuminating the truth that life is about sharing—it is about “we,” not “ego”; it is about embracing “common freedom,” participation, love, peace, and solidarity. In every facet of life, truth transcends possessiveness; it is not about having but about participating, fostering community, and building society. This gift of freedom as a relationship establishes each of us as a unique and irreplaceable person before God and humankind.

While individuals may encounter numerous “small truths” throughout their lives, the Church, echoing the words of its Fathers, teaches that genuine life is found in “union with God” (N. Kavasilas, On Life in Christ, VII, 6). The experience of resurrectional freedom does not allow anyone to limit themselves to “mundane absolutes”. The longing for eternity is deeply ingrained in our souls and cannot be fulfilled by earthly possessions, mere extensions of life, or promises of false paradises. Those things do not redeem. The denial of the mystery does not liberate anyone. It likely diminishes the scope of our existence. Faith increases the mystery of the world and opens new existential possibilities.

The promise and gift of the Risen Christ is the complete existence, the fullness and the perfection, the eternal life. In this spirit, freedom is manifested as an eminently Christian concept. The experience of faith teaches us that everything in the life of humakind and the world reveals its deepest truth and full meaning when it is part of our relationship with God, when it is approached from the perspective of eternity.

We extend this blessed moment to our young people, both here and everywhere, as the inheritors of our tradition and its spiritual values. They are the ones who will carry forward and safeguard our resurrectional civilization. Indeed, the younger generation possesses a profound sensitivity to the experience of the Resurrection. Dear young people, live your lives incompatibly with evil and negativity, contributing to the transformation of the world towards a realm of peace, justice, and solidarity.

With these thoughts and feelings, we are confident that Orthodox Easter will forever retain its special character, untouched by “rationalizations” and “modernizations”. We praise the Risen Christ for His saving gifts.

We pray for our brothers and sisters enduring hardship and sorrow, longing for peace in the war-torn Middle East and the long-suffering Ukraine, seeking reconciliation, justice, and solidarity as the foundation for lasting peace. In this same spirit, we stand behind the “Nash Vyhod – Our Exodus” initiative, advocating for the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine, especially on the sacred occasion of Easter, bridging the concept of “peace from above” with the “peace of the universe.” This would be a very specific expression of the power of the Resurrection.

We beseech the Lord of mercy to illuminate our minds and hearts, guiding us on the path of truth and genuine freedom, imbued with the spirit of Resurrection and hope, as we proclaim with joy, “Christ is Risen!” with unwavering conviction on our lips, let us proclaim that if Christ is with us and we are with Christ, then “no one can be against us.”

Christ is Risen!

The Resurrection service saw the presence of distinguished guests including His Excellency Ambassador Konstantinos Koutras, the Consul General of Greece in Constantinople, Sergiu Gurduza, the Consul General of Moldova, and Maxim Vdovichenko, the Consul of Ukraine.

Additionally, pilgrims from various parts of the world joined local believers from Constantinople in this solemn occasion. The Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate “Panagia Pammakaristos” was represented by its General Secretary, Konstantinos Delikostantis, Archon Didaskalos of the Great Church of Christ.

The Ecumenical Patriarch presided over the Resurrection Divine Liturgy, accompanied by the hierarchs.

Photos: Nikos Papachristou