Religious Leaders Condemn Russian Air Raids

CHURCH leaders denounced Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s energy and water supply.

“As we pray for the victims and ask God to bless our defenders, we also call on the international community and world religious leaders to condemn these acts of state terror,” said the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Organizations. religious, which includes Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders, as well as Jews and Muslims.

“All who participate in these brutal attacks on peaceful cities – the leaders who issue orders, the direct perpetrators and all who justify such acts of inhuman cruelty – must know that they will answer to Almighty God and be punished. for their crimes.”

The council was reacting to new Russian strikes against civilian targets in Kyiv and other cities, which destroyed electricity and water supplies as winter approached. President Zelensky confirmed that a third of Ukraine’s power plants have now been destroyed, leaving more than 1,000 urban areas without electricity.

The Primate of the Independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko), said this weekend that the country’s defenders counted on the “protection and strength” of the Virgin Mary in their “victorious fight” against “the Russian invaders and assassins”.

In support, the Paris-based Archdiocese for Russian Orthodox Communities in Western Europe has again urged Patriarch Cyril of Moscow to call for an end to the “fratricidal war”, now in its eighth month, saying Russian Christians and Ukrainians had reacted with “pain”. and misunderstanding” to his promise in September that the invading soldiers would obtain remission of their sins if killed.

Meanwhile, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Estonia, Metropolitan Eugene (Reshetnikov), has become the latest Baltic prelate to reprimand the Patriarch. In an open letter, the Metropolitan told government officials that his followers also reject Patriarch Kirill’s pro-war stance.

Patriarch Kirill, however, accused the West of seeking to “destroy and conquer” Russia, and insisted that Ukraine belonged to the “Russian world”. Preaching at a liturgy in Moscow on October 14, he warned that forces were “rising” to “destroy and conquer Russia”, and assured his country’s troops that the Virgin Mary would watch over them.

“All of this is now clothed in other verbal forms – but behind it remains the indelible dream of those who attacked Russia from the West: to destroy our sovereignty, deprive us of our freedom, and then use all the resources of the country the richest in the world for their own ends,” the patriarch said. He hailed President Putin’s commitment to “solidarity, mutual aid, kindness and justice” in a birthday message in early October.

“Now is not the time to doubt – today is the time to mobilize our spiritual forces, asking the Lord and the purest Queen of Heaven to give our people the strength from above to stop the enemy and protect the borders of our Fatherland.”

In a new book, I ask you in the name of God: Ten prayers for a future of hope”, published on Tuesday, the pope warned that the Ukraine conflict highlights the need for “better multilateralism”, and that “manipulated wars” are particularly unjust when “false pretexts are created” to attack another country.

“We are witnessing a Third World War in fragments, which threatens to develop into a global conflict – there is no occasion when war can be considered just, and never room for barbarism military,” the Pope wrote.

“This is why I call on political authorities to stop ongoing wars, not to manipulate information and not to deceive their peoples in order to achieve military objectives.”

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told the Italian weekly Cristiana family that a truce in Ukraine was “not only plausible, but also urgent and necessary,” and said Pope Francis remained ready to meet with Patriarch Kirill to help with peace negotiations.

This, however, was questioned by Bishop Vitalii Kryvytskyi, who chairs the RC Church-State Commission. The bishop said he saw “no glimmer of peace” in the current situation.

“When an aggressor attacks civilians and attempts to destroy basic infrastructure such as electricity, hitting hospitals and neonatal wards, how can that be defined other than as terrorism?” he told Italian television last weekend.

In a debate last week, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s “illegal annexation attempt” in late September of four Ukrainian regions, although 35 countries abstained. Russia, Belarus, Syria, Nicaragua and North Korea voted against.

However, speaking in the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral on Tuesday after talks with the Acting Orthodox General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Professor Ioan Sauca, Patriarch Kirill said Ukraine belonged to the “land of historic Russia” and must remain “united by ties with the Russian Orthodox Church”.

He continued, “For there to be lasting peace, we need evil thoughts to be eradicated by the power of God from the consciences of people who are not fighting for the unity of Holy Russia, so that everyone take responsibility for preserving the spiritual unity of the Russian world.

Professor Sauca then said the Patriarch was aware of WCC statements “condemning war and violence”. His delegation had come to Moscow “to build bridges of peace and reconciliation and stop the bloodshed and the danger of nuclear conflagration”.

He also urged Kirill to clarify his “personal position on the war” calling for “stop the bloodshed, stop the killings, stop the destruction of infrastructure and seek peace and reconciliation”.

The WCC statement said the patriarch seemed unaware of how his sermons and speeches seemed to offer “theological augmentation and support for war”, and that Professor Sauca had asked him to explain how he justified notions of “holy war”. and “metaphysical warfare” in Ukraine.

“As churches we are called to be peacemakers and to defend and protect life – war cannot be holy,” Kirill replied.

“But when one has to defend oneself and one’s life, or to lay down one’s life for the life of others, things seem different. . . As St. Paul says, our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the dark powers and authorities of the world, who confront the values ​​of the Gospel.And such powers are present everywhere, not only in the West.

Martha J. Finley