[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrived in Kyiv on Nov. 30 for a three-day visit to the Ukrainian capital.
Welby is making the Advent visit to show solidarity with the people and churches of Ukraine as they face ongoing Russian bombardment and a profoundly difficult winter.
While in Kyiv the archbishop will meet with leaders of Ukraine’s churches to hear their accounts of what the country is going through – and understand how the Church of England can continue to support them.
During his trip, he is also meeting Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people, and seeing the work of churches and charities providing support to them.
On his way to Ukraine yesterday, Welby met with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland, during an afternoon spent in the capital. He visited Ukrainian House, a support center for migrants that has been turned into a crisis center supporting Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion.
In Warsaw the archbishop met the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, to hear about the Roman Catholic Church’s extensive work supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Anglican Bishop in Europe Robert Innes is traveling with the archbishop throughout the visit to Poland and Ukraine, which are both in the Church of England Diocese in Europe. There is a small but thriving community of Anglicans in both countries.
While in the Ukrainian capital Welby and Innes will meet with members of Christ Church Kyiv, the Church of England’s church there.
Arriving in Kyiv, Welby said: “The people of Ukraine have shown extraordinary courage in the face of Russia’s illegal, unjust and brutal invasion. This visit is about showing solidarity with them as they face a profoundly difficult winter. I look forward to meeting with church leaders and local Christians in Kyiv, and learning how we can continue to support them amidst the ongoing devastation, loss and destruction of this war.
“It was deeply moving to meet with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw yesterday and hear their stories. In this season of Advent, we remember that Jesus was born into conflict and persecution – and became a refugee when his parents fled violence and persecution to seek safety in Egypt.
“I urge Christians in the Church of England and around the world to keep praying for the people of Ukraine in this Advent season – along with all people caught up in conflicts around the world – and offering our solidarity and support in every way we can.”
Innes said: “I am very grateful to have this opportunity to travel to Ukraine to show my personal support for our brothers and sisters in Christ here at this difficult and painful time.
“It is inspiring and humbling to see how members of our chaplaincy here at Christ Church in Kyiv continue to carry out their work and serve God in the face of the traumas of war. Archbishop Justin and I are here to show solidarity with all the churches in Ukraine as we continue to pray for a peaceful and just end to the war. I want to thank everyone here for making us so welcome.
“It was also inspiring to see the work of our chaplaincy in Warsaw and the Ukraine House which we visited on our way to Kyiv. I thank them too for the incredible work they – and others around our diocese – have been doing to support refugees who have fled Ukraine since the conflict began.”
The archbishop’s visit to Ukraine follows his visit to Mozambique last week, where he met with people who have been internally displaced and traumatized by attacks by ISIS-linked terrorists in the southern African nation.