On the 12th of April 2022, a high-level delegation of religious leaders from all over the world was assembled with the aim to visit the refugee camps in Ukraine and support those affected by the war. The Elijah Interfaith Institute, Peace Department and Glocalities combined their powers to make this historic initiative become real.

A few of the many participants and speakers included: the Archbishop of Canterbury (Emeritus), Rowan Williams (Anglican, UK), Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg (Jewish, UK), Grand Mufti (Emeritus) Mustafa Ceric (Muslim, Bosnia), Archbishop Nikitas Lulias (Orthodox Archbishop of the UK), Grand Imam Yahya Pallavacini (Muslim, Italy), Br. Massimo Fusarelli (Catholic Minister General, Franciscan Order of Friars, Italy), Swami Sarvapriyananda (Hindu, India/USA), Abbess Sister Giác Nghiêm, (Buddhist, France).

The leaders visited various sites in the Chernivtsi region to chat with the refugees, listen to their struggles and offer them comfort. The recorded testimonies showcase the emotional and physical burden that war refugees have to overcome

As part of this visit, a public event was organized at the city’s main theatre where the faith leaders expressed their compassion and support to the Ukrainian people and instructed them on how to maintain their spiritual well-being using meditation exercises, affirmations and songs. One of the highlights of the event was the message of Pope Francis declaring his solidarity with Ukrainians and condemnation of the war that was released especially for the visit of the faith leaders. It is worth mentioning that this is the first public event permitted at the theatre after the beginning of the war.

Glocalities research findings played a central role in this historic interfaith mobilisation. The recently published research on the highest values that are shared by the people of Ukraine, Russia, EU/UK, and worldwide constituted the cornerstone of the public event. The video of the Research Director of Glocalities, Martijn Lampert, presenting the research results on the shared values was shown at the beginning of the event and framed the speeches that followed. The leaders’ speeches were organized in two subject areas based on the research results. The first part focused on caring and friendship where the faith leaders expressed their feelings of compassion, friendliness and empathy, while the second one focused on freedom where speakers stated their hopes for a free and flourishing Ukraine.

In addition, the event and the visit of the faith leaders to Ukraine gained significant attention from the media. Specifically, online outlets such as the Associated Press, Vatican News, Markets Insider- Business Insider, The Washington Times and many more, decided to raise awareness and inform their audience about this historic initiative and its importance.

In the words of Martijn Lampert “War is extremely divisive, destructive, violating human dignity and dehumanizing the other”, however, the faith leaders’ visit to Ukraine proves by its example that humanity can overcome division and unite when facing distressing circumstances. Glocalities is honoured to have assisted in this initiative by providing research data on higher values that have the potential to unify nations and religions from around the world.

Martijn Lampert

Research Director

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