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Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

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NEW YORK, December 27, 2006: On behalf of the hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of North & South America and the Diaspora, I extend our condolences to former First Lady, Betty Ford and the Ford family, upon the December 26 death of President Gerald R. Ford. The 38th. president of the United States leaves behind a legacy full of lessons, not only for those of us who are American citizens, but for all people of good faith throughout the globe.

President Ford, a long time member of the US Congress, did not have ambitions to ascend the the office of president, but humbly accepted the responsibility when called upon to serve his country. Through his gentle spirit, unassuming character and wisdom when faced with difficult decisions, the President was able to restore unity to the nation and respect during one of the most divisive times in the country's history. For this effort, he is remembered by historians as the "great healer."

This gift of healing was not limited to his years in the Oval Office, but President Ford proceeded to become a constant supporter of his wife Betty's work in establishing the now famous "Betty Ford Clinic," a state of the art facility which was a pioneering effort to recognize and reach out to thousands who suffer from the physical and social stigamatizims of additions and depression. Thanks to Mrs. Ford's courage and President Ford's encouragement, millions of people have been able to attain recovery from this disease and re-claim lives of dignity, in countless facilities across the world which are patterned after the compassionate ideas of the Fords.

As Christians, we believe in the immortality of the human spirit and take example from those who have gone before us on the pilgrimage of faith. Gerald Ford was a man of deep faith and God granted him the distinction of having been the US president who lived the greatest amount of years upon this earth. We join the nation and the world in praying that his soul enjoy rest in the peace of God with the saints in heaven, and that his memory among us be eternal.

Blessed Repose & Eternal Memory!
Blazheni Spokoy I Vichnaya Pamyat'!
Descanso Bendito y Eterna Memoria!

The Most Rev. Michael Javchak Champion, DD., MA Th.
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of All America & the Diaspora
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church