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Zelensky, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew hold telephone conversation

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky held a telephone conversation with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios Sunday as Russian forces continued to push into Ukraine. 

A statement from the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate said that Zelensky “described the prevailing situation in his country following the military invasion by the Russian Federation.”

The Ukrainian president expressed his gratitude for Vartholomaios’ solidarity and asked him to pray for his nation’s freedom and territorial integrity, it said.

According to the statement, the patriarch assured Zelensky of the church’s “solidarity and constant prayers that the hostile fire may cease and the military conflict may stop immediately.” He furthermore congratulated the Ukrainian leader “for his vigorous fighting spirit, as well as for the inspiration and support that he provides the Ukrainian people with his courageous attitude.”

During Sunday Mass at an Istanbul church, Vartholomaios described Russia’s invasion as “beyond every sense of law and morality” and pleaded for an end to the war.   

Patriarch noted that, during the past few days, a “tragic humanitarian disaster” is unfolding in Ukraine and expressed his support to the families of all the dead and wounded.

According to a statement put out by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Vartholomaios reiterated his “support to the Ukraine Orthodox Church, and to the whole Ukrainian nation, which has chosen to live free and determine its own destiny.”

Vartholomaios is considered the spiritual leader and first among equals of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide. He granted the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which severed it in 2019 from the Russian church to which it had been tied since 1686. The Russian Orthodox Church severed relations with him as a result.