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Archbishop of Canterbury praises Ukrainian people in Kyiv visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a visit to Kyiv (Yui Mok/PA)
The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a visit to Kyiv (Yui Mok/PA)

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday for a three-day visit to the Ukrainian capital as he praised the “extraordinary courage” of the country’s people.

The Archbishop said the Advent visit was about “showing solidarity” with the people and churches of Ukraine “as they face a profoundly difficult winter”.

During the trip, the Archbishop will meet with Ukrainian church leaders to hear their accounts of what the country is going through and understand how the Church of England can support them.

The Archbishop will also meet Ukrainian refugees and internally-displaced people, and observe the work of churches and charities providing support to them.

On his way to Kyiv, the Archbishop met with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw – an experience he said was “deeply moving” as he spent Tuesday afternoon in the Polish capital.

He also visited Ukrainian House, a support centre in Warsaw for migrants that has been turned into a crisis centre supporting Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion.

Arriving in Kyiv on Wednesday, the Archbishop 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.

“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.”

The Anglican Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, is travelling with the Archbishop throughout the visit to Poland and Ukraine, which both have a small community of Anglicans.

While in the Ukrainian capital, the Archbishop and Bishop Robert will meet with members of Christ Church Kyiv, the Church of England church in Kyiv.

Bishop Robert 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.

“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.”