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Archbishop Justin and Bishop Robert visit Ukraine

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Robert arrived in Kyiv today for a three-day visit. The trip has been organised to show solidarity with the people and churches of Ukraine as they face ongoing Russian bombardment and a profoundly difficult winter.

While in Kyiv Archbishop Justin and Bishop Robert will meet leaders of Ukraine’s churches, including members of Christ Church Kyiv, to hear their accounts of what the country is going through and understand how the Church of England can continue to support them.

They will also meet Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people and see the work of churches and charities providing support to them.

Archbishop Justin 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 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.’

Bishop Robert added, ‘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.’

Archbishop Justin and Bishop Robert visited the Polish capital, Warsaw, on their way to Ukraine. While there, they met Ukrainian refugees and visited Ukrainian House, a support centre for migrants that has been turned into a crisis centre supporting refugees since the Russian invasion. And the Archbishop also met the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, to hear about the Roman Catholic Church’s extensive work supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

Speaking afterwards, Archbishop Justin said, ‘It was deeply moving to meet Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw 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.’

Bishop Robert was also moved by his time in Poland, ‘'It was inspiring to see the work of our chaplaincy in Warsaw and the Ukraine House,’ he said. ‘I thank them 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 diocese will be giving everyone the opportunity to gather online during December to remember the people of Ukraine in prayer. Three special Advent services are being organised for Wednesday 7th, Wednesday 14th and Wednesday 21st December. They will follow a similar style to the online services held during Lent which were attended by people across the diocese and beyond.

The services will take place at 6.30pm CET/5.30pm GMT and will be available on YouTube. More details about the services will be published tomorrow.