KIEV — Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese, was one of the global church leaders visiting Ukraine last week, to meet with church and government officials, and to survey sites ravaged by the ongoing war.
The high-level delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) arrived in the capital city of Kiev on May 10 and held consultations through May 12. In addition to Archbishop Aykazian, who serves as Vice Moderator on the WCC’s central committee, the delegation included WCC General Secretary Rev. Jerry Pillay, Moderator Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, WCC’s international affairs director Peter Prove, and its ecumenical relations executive Dr. Vasile-Octavian Mihoc.
The delegation visited Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), one of the holiest sites of Orthodox Christianity in the region, and led an ecumenical prayer service in Bucha. The group also met with members of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO), and with the country’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko.
In meetings with senior leaders of both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), the WCC delegation confirmed their readiness to host discussions among the two churches to seek a resolution to the issues between them.
Leaders of both churches — Metropolitan Anthony of the UOC, and Metropolitan Epifaniy of the OCU — signaled their willingness to engage in dialogue, a development that would offer a hope of healing one of the wounds which the present conflict has deepened.