ROME – European bishops, both Catholic and Russian Orthodox, are pleading for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, to ask Vladimir Putin to stop the war against Ukraine.
According to the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, “our very unity is threatened” by the situation that arose following Russia’s “military intervention” and “violent attack” on Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) said Kirill should take to heart his own remarks: “The Church can be a peacemaking force.”
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich addressed a letter to Kirill on Tuesday asking him to issue an urgent appeal to Russian authorities to immediately stop the hostilities against the Ukrainian people. The content of the letter was released on Thursday.
“In these dark moments for humanity, accompanied by intense feelings of hopelessness and fear, many look to you, Your Holiness, as someone who could bring a sign of hope for a peaceful solution to this conflict,” Hollerich wrote to Kirill.
The Luxembourg cardinal appealed to the patriarch to intercede with Russian authorities to stop the suffering caused by “the foolishness of war,” and to “show goodwill for seeking a diplomatic solution to the conflict, based on dialogue, common sense and respect for international law.”
“Broken-hearted” by the tragic testimonies coming from the besieged areas in Ukraine, the cardinal also called on the Kirill to advocate for “safe humanitarian corridors and unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance.”
Hollerich then points out that, in 2016, the Russian religious leader and Pope Francis “jointly deplored” the “hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis.”
“Please do not let those powerful words go in vain,” he added.
In a similar vein, Metropolitan John of Dubna, Archbishop of the Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, on Thursday asked Kirill to intervene in favor of peace.
“Our faithful expect their pastors to bring the voice of the Church and an evangelical message of peace,” says the letter addressed to Kirill, who has led the Russian patriarchate since 2009.
“On behalf of all the faithful of our Archdiocese, I appeal to you to raise your voice as Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church against this monstrous and senseless war and to intercede with the authorities of the Russian Federation so that this murderous conflict, which until recently seemed unthinkable between two peoples and two nations united by centuries of history and by their common faith in Christ, will cease as soon as possible,” the metropolitan wrote.
He then criticized Kirill’s March 6 homily in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Christ the Savior. During his remarks, the patriarch implied that this “war of cruel and murderous aggression” is justified as a “metaphysical battle,” in the name of “the right to stand on the side of the light, on the side of God’s truth, of what the light of Christ reveals to us, his word, his Gospel.”
With all the respect “due to you, and from which I do not depart,” but also “with infinite pain,” the metropolitan writes, “ I must bring to your attention that I cannot subscribe to such a reading of the Gospel.”
Nothing, he wrote, can ever justify that the “good shepherds” of the Church should cease to be “artisans of peace,” no matter the circumstances.