On Orthodoxy Sunday, Vasile Bănescu, spokesperson for the Romanian Patriarchate, was invited to the program Spiritual Reality, broadcast by the Romanian television channel Realitatea. The topic of the day was the help offered by the Church in the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Until last Sunday, this support amounted to nearly 4 million euros. The explanation: our neighbor is also an icon of Christ, said Vasile Bănescu.
“This amount is enormous, given the context and the dynamics of the situation. This support involved, in addition to money and products, a whole infrastructure put in place in absolutely record time, from the very first moments of the conflict,” noted journalist George Grigoriu, host of the show.
He announced figures related to all support activities for Ukrainian refugees within the Romanian Patriarchate: 4,300 Church volunteers and employees offered translation services (for 40,000 refugees), travel advice (for 30 000 refugees), medical services (for 9,000 refugees) and housing (for more than 8,000 refugees).
Nearly 200 aid transports or transit buses to other countries have been set up to help both Ukrainians across the border and those entering Romania.
“Perhaps there is no other institution in Romania that has done as much as the Orthodox Church – at this level, at the moment,” added the journalist.
Vasile Bănescu explained the deep reasons for this demonstration of solidarity just before the Sunday of Orthodoxy, in which we celebrate the power of the image of the Lord represented by icons.
“The Sunday of Orthodoxy is about the image of Christ, but in this context it must also lead us to think about the face of our neighbour,” said the spokesman for the Romanian patriarchate.
“The face of our neighbor is also an icon reflecting the image of Christ. Orthodoxy is the straight path to Christ, who is present in the image of our neighbor – our tormented, hungry, refuge-seeking, tortured, worried, or bombarded neighbor.
“We know very well that faith without deeds is not faith of conscience. Faith is fully measured only through its deeds,” added Vasile Bănescu.
Another guest on the show was Lucian Apopei, communication director of the Archdiocese of Iași. He was live in a video transmission from the city of Iași, explaining that in addition to logistical efforts, the Romanian Orthodox Church also offered spiritual comfort.
For example, a Divine Liturgy in Slavic was celebrated for the refugees from the Metropolitan Complex of Iași.
The Romanian Patriarchate’s Press Office issued a press release on Monday with relevant figures regarding the support offered to refugees between February 25 and March 13, 2022.
Nearly 400,000 Ukrainians entered Romania after Russia invaded Ukraine. Less than 10% of them applied for asylum in Romania.