Ukrainian folk churches react differently to Russian aggression

23-02-2022

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

People attend a religious service called prayer for peace in Kiev. Photo EPA, Zurab Kurtsikidze

While the Ukrainian Orthodox Church calls its followers up to arms, the Russian Orthodox Church asked for prayers. After the Russian recognition of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, churches react differently to the news.

Orthodox Church of Ukraine (Kyiv Patriarchate)

Epiphanius, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine urged his parishioners to stand up for Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainian people may have different beliefs, but the state of Ukraine is one. “Only a sovereign, independent Ukraine is a space where citizens of different political views, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs can remain free and enjoy full rights and freedoms.” Epiphanius continues by stating that on the contrary, “life in the Ukrainian lands of Crimea and Donbas, which have been occupied by Russia so far, shows that bloodshed, ruin, captivity, and fear come with the Kremlin occupiers.”

Epiphanius ends his statement with a call to arms. “I call on everyone to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression. I call on you to fight for Ukrainian statehood and support the armed forces and our defenders. Together we can stand. With God’s help, we will win this fight.”

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)

The Russian Orthodox Church cannot recognize the state, but respects the political choice of the people. Vladimir Legoyda, chairman of the synodal department for relations between the church, society and the media of the Moscow Patriarchate, told RIA Novosti.

The Russia-related counterpart of the Orthodox Church reacted differently. Metropolitan Onufriy appealed to the Ukrainian faithful to intensify their prayers for peace in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has consistently supported and continues to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and calls on its faithful to pray for peace in our Ukrainian state and around the world,” the Primate stressed.

Furthermore, Onufriy urged “the leaders of the states and all those on whom it depends not to allow a new war. War is a grave sin before God!”

Greek Catholic Church

Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, says that the actions of Russia "pose serious serious challenges and threats to the international community and international law." According to the archbishop, "the protection of Ukraine, our memory and hope, our God-given right to exist” is a “personal responsibility and a sacred duty of the citizens of Ukraine."

Shevchuk goes on by saying that he prays for wisdom for " those who are authorized to make socially important decisions, in whose hands the fate of mankind is."

Jewish community

The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azma recorded a video address to Jews living in Ukraine. He promised that the Jewish community would provide all necessary assistance to those in need.

“I saw every war in Israel with my own eyes. We helped the people who were under fire as much as we could. (...) Today I am here; I did not go anywhere; we are here to help you morally and physically. We will not be indifferent. “said Rabbi Azma.

The Mufti of the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Ukraine, Said Ismagilov, urged his faithful not to lose optimism and to believe that Ukraine will withstand Russian aggression.

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