Wars can never be holy, says Kirill to World Council of Churches

25-10-2022

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Patriarch Kirill (second right) meets with representatives of the World Council of Churches. Photo Mospat.ru

"Wars can never be holy. However, things are different when one has to defend himself and his life or give his life for the lives of others." That is what Patriarch Kirill said about his position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine while meeting representatives from the World Council of Churches last week.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church pointed out that the tensions in Ukraine have been there since 2014 when there were "Ukrainian shellings of Donbas." According to Kirill, more than 2 million refugees fled to Russia. The World Council of Churches reports that in a press release. Kirill added that he wrote several letters to political authorities and also to the World Council of Churches. "My request was met with total silence. Yet, my hope was and still is that as Churches, we look for just peace."

At the meeting of the Patriarch with the World Council of Churches in Moscow, also Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate external relations, was present at the meeting, which took place in the St David's Monastery in Moscow, Dagen reports. The representatives of the World Council had travelled there to discuss Kirill's views on the war in Ukraine.

The Russian Patriarch Kirill has been criticised for supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For example, he compared the Russian soldiers killed on the battlefield to martyrs and promised they would go to heaven.

According to Dagen, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church seemed surprised when confronted with his own words. "My theological view of the war? I don't think any church or Christian can be positive about war and killing", he responded. "It is a matter of overriding importance that no more blood be shed, no more buildings and infrastructure be destroyed, and no more people suffer."

Furthermore, the World Council of Churches asked Kirill about his statements on a "metaphysical war" that Russia is fighting. These words were understood by many as invoking the notion that Russia protects the world against the Antichrist. The Patriarch explained that this does not refer to physical war but to the "fight against dark powers and worldly authorities that go against the values of the Gospel." He stressed that these powers are not only in the West.

It seems that Patriarch Kirill sees himself as having a pacifistic position where killing is unjustified unless one has to defend himself or his values. This would mean that he considers Ukraine a threat to Russia, which then has to defend itself.

Critique

In Switzerland, there is much criticism on the meeting of the World Council of Churches with Patriarch Kirill. “I was appaled at the discouragement of the WCC delegation. Their behaviour is a form of disrespect”, Rita Famos writes on Facebook, as reported by Ref.ch. Famos is the President of the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church. She argues that Kirill's “hypocritical words” went unchallenged and that the representatives went along with his statements too much. “A dialogue that blurs is not a real exchange and pointless. This trip has missed its goal.”

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