16 March 2022, The Tablet

Topic of the week: Fellow Christians at war


The First World War saw co-religionists on both sides busily fighting each other: Catholic (Italy vs Austria-Hungary), Protestant (Britain vs Germany) and Orthodox (Russia vs Bulgaria). This was much less evident in the Second World War and the Yugoslav Civil War. But in 2022 we are seeing the two most populous Orthodox Christian countries in the world engaged in a full-scale killing war against each other.

They are at war on pretexts that suggest that both combatant nations regard God – the same Orthodox Christian God – as being on their side. This is already a dreadful tragedy, only worsened by the inevitable taking of sides – opposite sides, of course – by the present Patriarchs of Moscow and of Constantinople, thereby only consolidating the shameful schism (over the status and autonomy of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine) that already divides them. My own sympathies are more for the latter, but all Christians must pray that upholders of the former will be able to persuade him to abandon his blatant, retrograde and outdated caesaropapism.

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