27 July 2016

The Kiev Holy Cross procession is an entirely non-political event. Since time immemorial, when countries have faced crises and instability, the faithful have gathered together for religious processions. And now with the ongoing fratricidal war in our country (yet to be resolved by politicians), the Orthodox Church has blessed this religious procession for peace and reconciliation in Ukraine. Symbolically, the pilgrimage will begin from two opposite corners of the country: one group will start at the Sviatohirsk Lavra in the East of Ukraine, and the other from the Pochaiv Lavra in the West. They will converge on Kyiv for a joint procession, which symbolises the unification of our country.

I would encourage representatives from all political parties to join the procession and pray, shoulder to shoulder, for the sole purpose of establishing peace and reconciliation in the country. Participants of the pilgimage are true believers and loyal to Ukraine: any tensions surrounding the event are being inflamed by senior officials.

I hope that the government and law enforcement agencies will ensure that there are not any clashes during the service at Saint Volodymyr Hill or afterwards, during the final walk to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. Law enforcement agencies should deal with the rabble-rousers who masquerade as activists if they try to hinder the progress of the procession. I hope that both the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine will make every effort to ensure the safety of the religious wayfarers and that this non-political event will end peacefully in a prayer within the walls of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra.

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