President Victor Yushchenko and Mrs. Kateryna Yushchenko took part in a festive gathering on the occasion of 1020th anniversary of Kyivan Rus’ Christianization on Sophyivska Square in front of Kyiv St. Sophia Cathedral.
In his address President greeted all Ukrainians with this holiday. “It is a festival of Christianity, a festival of the European civilization. It is a festival of world’s Christian community and a festival of Orthodox Christianity. It is a festival of our nation with thousands of years of history”, - President said.
In his speech Victor Yushchenko also expressed hope for unification of Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. “I believe that with wisdom and perseverance we will walk through the path towards a dream. I believe that any partition of Ukrainian faithful is not for long. I believe that national Ukrainian Church will appear in Ukraine as a gift from God, as a historical truth and fairness”, - he said.
Addressing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I President Yushchenko asked for his blessing for Ukraine and its nation.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, from his part, praised the idea of the Ukrainian authorities to celebrate 1020th anniversary of Kyivan Rus' Baptism.
“We wholeheartedly accepted the honoring invitation of His Excellency, the President of Ukraine Mr. Viktor Yushchenko to participate in the festive ceremonies for the 1020th anniversary of the baptism of the Ukrainian nation to Christianity by the Mother Church because, on the one hand, the contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Christianization of the European peoples is celebrated by that multifaceted event, and, on the other hand, because by that event the new, European prospects of the Ukrainian nation are emphasized at a time of great and rapid changes worldwide. The Mother Church rejoices together with the pious Ukrainian people because that baptism remains an inexhaustible source of strength not only supporting its internal spiritual coherence, but also utilizing it fully in the important field of international relationships”, - he said.
He also encouraged everybody to renew the role of Christianity as a factor for unification in the name of the holiday.
“It is a common duty of the civic, political, ecclesiastical and in general intellectual leadership of the Ukrainian people to utilize by every appropriate means the God-given gift of the Baptism not only for the immediate cure of various confusions and traumatic events of the historic past, but also for the restoration of the cohesive role that the Orthodox Church played in the consciousness of the Christ-loving Ukrainian nation. If this confusion is prolonged in order to serve ethnophyletic or political ends and purposes foreign to the Church's spiritual character would abolish the cohesive power of the Baptism and would worsen the already dangerous division of the ecclesial body, a division that wounds not only spiritual unity but also the communal coherence of the Ukrainian people with obvious troublesome consequences for the future of Ukraine”, - said Patriarch Bartholomew I.