Hanover, Odessa (epd). During a visit to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, the Hanoverian Bishop Ralf Meister expressed his shock at how many cultural assets were destroyed as a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine. “The total number of churches, mosques and synagogues destroyed is well into the hundreds,” Meister told the Evangelical Press Service (epd). An employee of the local monument authority also told him that works of art and exhibits were being stolen from museums on behalf of Russia. “According to everything the people here tell me, Russia’s goal with the war is cultural cleansing.”
In his capacity as leading bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, Meister left for Odessa on Wednesday to visit congregations of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine (DELKU). Only on Tuesday was the city on the Black Sea the target of a Russian air raid. He was all the more impressed by how the Ukrainians kept calm, said the regional bishop. “Once the air alert is over, the citizens of Odessa will go about their business as usual.” In the evening you can see young people in the streets who apparently come together to enjoy life.
The visit of the provincial bishop means a lot to the people he met in the parishes. “I was often asked whether we in Germany knew about the plight of the Ukrainians,” said Meister. People pointed out to him that Ukrainian children were being kidnapped and that they were being persecuted and expelled from within Ukraine.
The aim of the trip was to express the solidarity and solidarity of the Lutheran Church in Germany with Christians in Ukraine. “We read the same biblical texts, we live from the same hope and we share the longing for peace,” emphasized the theologian.