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Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Acts To Mediate a Russian-Ukrainian Peace

April 9, 2024 (EIRNS)—The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, on April 2 received Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, at the Patriarchate’s headquarters in Jerusalem. Talks focused on the good relations between Moscow and Jerusalem, concern for the unity of the Church, and concern for Christians in the Middle East. The Metropolitan’s visit is also part of an initiative of Patriarch Theophilos proposed last September, offering his good offices as mediator of a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine to end the conflict. His offer received the support of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and was positively received by Pope Francis.

In recognition of the contribution of Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk to the unity of the Church, Patriarch Theophilos awarded him at last week’s meeting with the medal of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. The Metropolitan led a special delegation that included Advisor to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’s Archpriest Nikolai Balashov and other high church officials on behalf of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus.

The Patriarch’s proposal for mediation had been made during his visit to the Vatican on Sept. 29, 2023 to attend the celebration of the elevation of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pizzaballa, to the Holy College of Cardinals. During the visit he was received by Pope Francis, and they discussed among other issues, the conflicts in the Middle East and in the Ukraine. In this context, the Patriarch put forward his proposal for mediation of the Ukraine conflict.

In an interview published on Oct. 6, 2023 with the Vatican daily, Osservatore Romano, Patriarch Theophilos III had said: “The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the threat of schism in the body of the Orthodox Church, are matters of deep pain and difficulty, not just for Orthodox Christians, but for the entire Christian world and for all people of good will. This is why I wanted to express to the Holy Father our willingness as Patriarchate of Jerusalem to reach out to our sisters and brothers in Ukraine and Russia, to mediate a swift end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”

He added that this effort could complement the efforts of Pope Francis through the mission the Holy Father had entrusted to Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi.

On Oct. 3, 2023 the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’s Archpriest Nikolai Balashov issued a statement saying the initiative was warmly welcomed by the Moscow Patriarch. There has yet to be a response from Ukraine.