GERMANY. UOC delegation takes part in International meeting “Paths of Peace – Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”

From 10 to 12 September, the International meeting «Paths of Peace – Religions and Cultures in Dialogue» is being held in Münster (Germany). It was organised by the Community of Sant’ Egidio.

With the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was being represented at this event by His Eminence Metropolitan Anatoliy of Sarny and Polissya. He was accompanied by Vitaliy V. Gorzov. an employee of the UOC Department for External Church Relations.

Taking part in the meeting were His Holiness Patriarch John X of Antioch, and other representatives from the Russian, Serbian, Greek, American and Romanian Orthodox Churches. Among the participants were representatives from various Christian confessions and religious organisations who come from different countries of the world, including famous religious experts and politicians. The total number of participants in attendance numbered over 550 people.

On Sunday, September 10, this year’s annual International meeting was officially opened. It was launched by Mgr.Felix Genn, the Catholic Bishop of Münster and the Lord Mayor of the city of Münster – Mr. Markus Lewe. The greetings of religious and political leaders from around the world were read. In particular, welcoming the participants to the Forum with their words were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani.

On Monday, September 11, Metropolitan Anatoliy of Sarny and Polissya addressed one of the Panel discussions, whose theme was «War is always a useless massacre». These words belong to His Holiness Pope Benedict XV, who in 1917, during the First World War, himself and in this way characterised the phenomenon of war.

In his speech, Metropolitan Anatoliy spoke about the ministry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in conditions of armed conflict in the East of Ukraine.

The hierarch particularly noted that «the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, being the largest Christian confession in the country, was bearing the full brunt of all the bitterness and pain of the unfolding tragedy, because our believers and clergy have found themselves on opposite sides of the demarcation line. Thus, our Church is now living and serving on both sides of the barricade».

On the one hand, according to the Vladyka, this is a big problem and a challenge for the Church, but on the other hand it is also an opportunity for the Church to show its true nature, and not be plunged into the maelstrom of conflict but in accordance with the words of the Apostle Paul become all things to all men, so that by all means may save some (1 Cor. 9:22).

Metropolitan Anatoliy explained to those present about the various aspects of life and ministry of Ukrainian clergy who serve in conditions of warfare in territories, where every day death walks along side and takes the lives of both military and civilians alike – and which is a clear illustration of the fact that war is truly a useless massacre. His Eminence also proposed to the audience that they contemplate the importance, in conditions of conflict, of cooperation between the various Christian denominations in matters of Mercy.

The International meeting in Münster runs until 12 September. The closing ceremony of the event will be held on the central square in the German city of Osnabruck.

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