giovedì 24 febbraio 2022

Both Ukrainian Orthodox Churches condemn invasion

(Peter Anderson)
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) has ceased its previously cautious approach of avoiding criticism of the Putin administration and of simply relying on the general phrase “supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”  This morning, Father Mykola Danilevich, deputy head of the DECR of the UOC-MP, who often speaks on behalf of the UOC-MP, made on his Telegram channel a very strong statement which shows that the previous restraint is now gone. (link)  He stated: “Putin treacherously attacked our country!  We bless everyone for the defense of Ukraine!  We pray and defend ourselves!   Church with the people!  God save Ukraine!  Later, he wrote: "Tell your parishioners that there are people in Italy who pray for you," said friends from the Community of Sant'Egidio of Rome.  Priests from Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, and other countries are also calling.  Coptic priest from Egypt.  Pleasant, even joyful, tears well up in my eyes. Thank you!

Metropolitan Onufry, head of the UOC-MP, has made the following address to the faithful:

Dear brothers and sisters! Faithful to our Ukrainian Orthodox Church! 

As the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I appeal to you and to all citizens of Ukraine. There was trouble. Unfortunately, Russia has launched military operations against Ukraine, and at this fateful time I urge you not to panic, to be courageous and to show love for your homeland and for each other. I urge you, first of all, to intensify penitential prayer for Ukraine, for our army and our people, I ask you to forget mutual quarrels and misunderstandings and to unite with love for God and our Motherland. 

At this tragic time, we express our special love and support to our soldiers who stand guard and protect and defend our land and our people.  May God bless and cherish them! 

Defending the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, we also appeal to the President of Russia to stop the fratricidal war immediately.  The Ukrainian and Russian peoples came out of the Dnieper baptismal font, and the war between these peoples is a repetition of Cain's sin, which enviously killed his own brother.  Such a war has no justification for either God or man.  I call on all to common sense, which teaches us to solve our earthly problems in mutual dialogue and mutual understanding, and I sincerely hope that God will forgive us our sins and that God's peace will reign on our earth and in the whole world!


In contrast to Metropolitan Onufry and Father Mykola, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil, the chancellor and number two person in the UOC-MP, has issued a more cautious statement:

"During any of the most dramatic and terrible events, we must first remember that we are Christians. And the thought of the Lord must precede all our other thoughts.  The main weapon of a Christian is prayer. And the more difficult the situation, the stronger it should be.  Today the Church stays with her people and prays for peace.  Praying for people, praying for peace - this is what is most important now.  I will repeat what we have been preaching lately: help the weak, the frightened, the defenseless.  Unite in prayer for our people.


Metropolitan Epifany of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has issued a very strong address.  (link)  The first part of his address stated:

Despite the long, sincere, persistent efforts of Ukraine and the entire international community, there was an unprovoked, insidious, cynical attack by Russia and Belarus on Ukraine.

Our common task is to repel the enemy, to protect our homeland, our future and the future of new generations from the tyranny that the aggressor seeks to bring on his bayonets.

The truth is on our side. Therefore, the enemy, with God's help and with the support of the entire civilized world, will be defeated.

Our task now is to unite, to withstand the first blow, not to panic. We believe in God's providence and the victory of truth. We trust our Armed Forces, our defenders. We pray with all those who are at the forefront of the fight against the aggressor.

It is extremely important not to succumb to possible internal provocations, to maintain order, to carry out orders of the state and military authorities of Ukraine.

Wherever possible, I ask the clergy and the faithful to regularly offer their prayers for Ukraine, for victory, for our soldiers. I bless you to read the Akathist to the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other relevant prayer requests.

I appeal to the international community, to all the world's religious leaders, to support Ukraine, to force Russia and Belarus to stop the aggression immediately. I ask all people of good will to do this.

In Moscow, Patriarch Kirill has issued a very neutral statement without any criticism. (link) The statement is as follows:

Your Beatitude! Your Eminences and Graces! Dear fathers, brothers, and sisters!

I take the suffering of people caused by the events taking place with deep and heartfelt pain.

As the Patriarch of All Russia and the primate of a Church whose flock is located in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, I deeply empathize with everyone affected by this tragedy.

I call on all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.

I appeal to the bishops, pastors, monastics, and laity to provide all possible assistance to all victims, including refugees and people left homeless and without means of livelihood.

The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have a common centuries-old history dating back to the Baptism of Rus’ by Prince St. Vladimir the Equal-to-the-Apostles. I believe that this God-given affinity will help overcome the divisions and disagreements that have arisen that have led to the current conflict.

I call on the entire fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church to offer a special, fervent prayer for the speedy restoration of peace.

May the All-merciful Lord, through the intercession of our Most Pure Lady the Theotokos and all the saints, preserve the Russian, Ukrainian, and other peoples who are spiritually united by our Church!

Patriarch Daniel, primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church, has issued a statement relating to “a war launched by Russia against a sovereign and independent state.”  (link)

The Romanian Orthodox Church, like the other important institutions in Romania and the European Union, has noted with the utmost concern the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a war launched by Russia against a sovereign and independent state.

In this way, we hope that the Euro-Atlantic political forces can find a way to a peaceful dialogue for the good of Ukraine and the whole of Europe.

At the same time, we express our full solidarity with the Romanian Orthodox Christians living in Ukraine, as well as the willingness to help them according to our own strength.

We pray to the Merciful God, the Lord of peace, justice and love, to give protection to the Ukrainian people and peace-making wisdom to all responsible political leaders.

With respect to the Catholic response, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) has issued a very strong appeal.  (link)  It included the proclamation: “We will lay down our souls and bodies for our freedom!”  The statement of the conference of Roman Catholic bishops in Ukraine likewise issued a forceful statement:  “We will be ready to defend our homeland in accordance with our capabilities and responsibilities – in the army or at our workplace, in hospitals or by providing first aid, material support or a word of comfort, prayer or sacrifice of suffering.” (link) The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, to which both Orthodox churches and the Catholic churches belong, issued a statement relating to “an unprovoked attack by Russia and Belarus on Ukraine.” (link)


Peter Anderson, Seattle USA