26 October 2022, The Tablet

Kirill talks war and peace with WCC

“My hope was and still is that as Churches we have to go beyond the logic and interest of the politicians and look for just peace.”

Kirill talks war and peace with WCC

Patrick Kirill with Pope Francis.
Photo by CNS/Paul Haring

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia told a delegation from the World Council of Churches that visited Moscow on 17 October to discuss the war in Ukraine, that “as Churches we have to go beyond the logic and interest of the politicians and look for just peace”.

Patriarch Kirill, who recently said that God placed Russian President Vladimir Putin at the “helm of power, so that you could perform a service of special importance and great responsibility for the fate of the country and the people entrusted to your care,” received WCC acting general secretary Fr Ioan Sauca, an Orthodox priest from Romania, and the WCC delegation at the Patriarchal Residence in St Daniel’s Monastery in Moscow.

“I appreciate that you have come to Russia in these hard times to meet with me and my people and talk about the difficult international relations we are confronted with today which naturally affects our inter-Church relations, as well,” said Kirill. 

“You are aware of the concerns that WCC member Churches have with regard to the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Fr Sauca told Patriarch Krill according to the WCC report, “and of our statements that condemn the war and violence which we made in our governing bodies … The reason for coming here is to see what we can do together to build bridges of peace and reconciliation and stop the bloodshed and the danger of nuclear conflagration.”

According to the Moscow Patriarchate report on the meeting, Kirill went on to lay the blame for the war on Ukraine.

“Eight years ago there were first Ukrainian shellings of Donbas. Destroyed houses, heavy casualties – that’s the reality. More than two million refugees from that area found refuge in Russia. Personally, I wrote three letters during those years to the political and religious authorities of the world, including WCC, and asked to intervene that the problems be solved through dialogue and mediation and to avoid killings and destructions …  such requests were met with total silence,” Krill said.

However, the patriarch went on: “My hope was and still is that as Churches we have to go beyond the logic and interest of the politicians and look for just peace.”

Meanwhile just before his 21-24 visit to Britain, in an interview with The Pillar, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke about the Ukraine war. Communion between the Constantinople Patriarchate led by Bartholomew and the Moscow Patriarchate was severed by the Russians in October 2018 over the decision by Bartholomew to grant autocephaly to a Ukrainian Church.

“The ongoing war waged by Russia into the sovereign territory of Ukraine has weighed heavily on our mind and heart in recent months. It is true that it has been characterised as Orthodox fratricide, although … the repercussions have surely been felt throughout the world,” Bartholomew said. 

“What is still more painful to us is the fact that the Patriarchate of Moscow has stooped to the level of submitting to political ambitions of the Russian Federation, even endorsing and seemingly blessing this cruel invasion and unjustifiable bloodshed. We have … fervently and fraternally appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow that he separate himself from political crimes, even if it means stepping down from his throne.”

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