UOC Primate addresses participants of International Forum "People of Peace"

His Beatitude Onuphry. Photo: facebook.com/Victor Kotsaba

The peace process should result in mutual forgiveness, which is the basis of the lasting peace and our common future, His Beatitude Onuphry reiterated.

On September 21, 2020, as part of the peacekeeping initiatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to end the armed conflict and restore peaceful life in Donbass, the International Forum "People of Peace" was opened at the Holy Dormition Sviatogorsk Lavra.

At the beginning of the event, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary, Chancellor of the UOC, read the Address of the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to the forum participants, in which His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine pointed out the need for a peacemaking process and shared his thoughts on the main principles, which, in his opinion, underlie the cause of consent and reconciliation.

The UOJ cites the text of the Address, published by the Information and Education Department of the UOC, in full.

ADDRESS

of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine

to the participants in the "People of Peace" Forum

Donetsk Region, Sviatogorsk city,

Holy Dormition Sviatogorsk Lavra

September 21, 2020

 

Your Eminence, Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!

Dear Forum Participants!

Peace is a gift from God. The Holy Gospel reminds us of the words of the Savior, Who says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" (Matt. 5: 9). One of the Holy Fathers of the Church, speaking about peace and harmony between people, said: “Of all that people want to enjoy in life, there is nothing sweeter than a peaceful life. Everything that we call pleasant in life is more pleasant only when it is associated with peace” (St. Gregory of Nyssa).

That is why the Lord calls peacemakers the sons of God, because by bringing peace to people, they become like God, their Heavenly Father: the Creator, Who destroys all enmity with His love. The Lord commands us to do this too: we must hold back hatred, stop enmity and revenge, de-escalate conflicts, drive out hypocrisy, tame smoldering resentment and instead get peace, love, joy, goodness, generosity to settle in our hearts.

War is blood, suffering, and tears. As a rule, in wars, with their big geopolitical, political, economic and other interests, the powerful do not see ordinary people; do not feel their pain, suffering and worries. That is why today at the Forum we are listening to the testimony of ordinary people who live in the front-line zone and who are particularly affected by the war. The purpose of our communication today is, on the one hand, to show ordinary people and their afflictions and, on the other, to witness a strong desire for peace.

Let me share some of my thoughts on the principles on which, as far as I’m concerned, the common cause of harmony and reconciliation should be built.

The first step towards peace must be the establishment of human communication between both sides of the conflict.

It is the emergence of human contacts between the parties that is the first effective step towards peace. After all, these contacts will certainly lead to dialogue. Only in the dialogue between the warring parties there can mature a new vision of their joint future, in this case, the future of our homeland Ukraine, which can and should be peaceful. It is the awareness by both sides of the fact that peace is possible that will offset any demonization of the enemy, which today fuels every armed conflict. It is a respectful attitude of the conflicting parties to each other that triggers a fruitful peacekeeping process. The peacekeeping process focuses on completely different values: peaceful coexistence, compromise, agreement. After all, peace is always a decision and a desire to live together with your neighbors.

In the peacekeeping process, the rival ceases to be an enemy that needs to be destroyed but becomes a party that needs to be integrated into the future of the country and with whom a common life needs to be built. The peacemaking process gives rise to one very important desire – this is the desire to find areas of common interest between the conflicting parties amid the heavy faults, a lot of shed blood, mutual accusations, an atmosphere of violence that gave rise to monstrous actions, hatred. It is precisely the identification of the middle ground that unites rather than divides, and focusing one's attention on this leads to the right outcome of peacekeeping efforts of the conflicting parties.

The peacekeeping process should eventuate in mutual forgiveness, which is the basis for lasting peace and building our common future. It is one of the basic Christian virtues. Christ the Savior teaches us to live in peace and unanimity. The Lord teaches us not to take revenge but to forgive the brother's fault: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy seven times” (Matthew 18:22).

The path to reconciliation opens from forgiveness rather than revenge and resentment. With the acceptance by both parties to the conflict of their common future, the future that they themselves will build together in peace, a new page in the history of our one-for-all long-suffering country will begin.

The vector of our reconciliation should be directed towards the future, because the past cannot be changed. We had what had, with all the pain and travails of people, but our unity can be only when our life is directed towards a common future. We will see a very important point of our unity in our shared future. The past divides us, yet the future can unite and reconcile us – a shared goal in the name of peace in which it is only possible to build a strong and prosperous Ukraine, where each of its citizens, regardless of language, religion and other distinctions, will feel at home, comfortably and meaningfully...

Our homeland is diverse and each of its regions is like a separate flower, but they all make up a wonderful beautiful bouquet. In my opinion, in this diversity there is spiritual beauty and strength of our Motherland Ukraine.

May the All-Merciful Lord, Who, according to the word of St. John Chrysostom, “accepts deeds and welcomes intentions, appreciates action, and praises willingness,” bless our intentions. We pray and wish that our good intentions and our desires for peace will come true for all citizens of Ukraine. May the Lord bless us all with peace!

ONUPHRY, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,

Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

It will be reminded to you that on August 17 the Holy Synod of the UOC decided to hold the peacemaking forum "People of Peace". The organizing committee included famous Ukrainians who support the peacemaking initiatives of the Church. The purpose of the forum is to develop an action program to end the conflict and restore peaceful life in eastern Ukraine.

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