Georgian and Romanian Patriarchs, ROCOR, and Finnish hierarchs call for peace in Ukraine

February 24, 2022
Updated 2/24/2022, 5:30 PM

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The primates and hierarchs of several Orthodox Churches have issued special appeals in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement this morning of a “special military operation… for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”

His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia writes:

Based on the bitter experience of Georgia, we know how important the territorial integrity of a country is. That is why we are watching the tense situation in relation to Ukraine with great heartache. We should note that the events that took place yesterday and today already contain a serious threat of bloodshed, but there is still an opportunity to regulate the situation. It is also an opportunity to maintain universal peace.

We entreat the Holy Trinity to grant peace to the population of Ukraine and the whole world.

May the God of peace be with you all. Amen!

And the official Twitter page for Patriarch Ilia tweeted this morning: “The hostilities in #Ukraine must be stopped as soon as possible; otherwise, they will develop into a world tragedy!”

His Beatitude Patriarch of Daniel of Romania writes:

Like the other significant institutions in Romania and the European Union, the Romanian Orthodox Church has noted with the utmost concern the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a war launched by Russia against a sovereign and independent state.

In this way, we hope that the Euro-Atlantic political forces can find a way to a peaceful dialogue for the benefit of Ukraine and the whole of Europe.

At the same time, we express our full solidarity with the Romanian Orthodox Christians living in Ukraine and our willingness to help them according to our own possibilities.

We pray to the Merciful God, the Lord of peace, justice, and love, to protect the Ukrainian people and give all responsible political leaders peace-making wisdom.

A joint statement from the hierarchs of the Finnish Orthodox Church under the Patriarchate of Constantinople reads:

Deeply saddened, we have been following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We mourn the outbreak of hostilities, and together with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Orthodox world, we pray for peace and ask God to help limit the great human suffering and alleviate the need. We call on the decision-makers and also on the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox and their spiritual leadership to do everything possible to limit suffering, prevent the escalation of the conflict, and achieve peace.

War always causes suffering to the innocent. Therefore, the pursuit of peace is in the will of God. In the midst of the forces of destruction, we pray to a God who loves people, for Deliverance is of the Lord (Ps. 3:9). We urge everyone to intercede for those who face the suffering of war and also for those who, through their decisions, take responsibility for the course of events.

Christ says, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you (Lk. 6:27). When the Lord says this, can we not love our brothers and sisters in Christ? We feel the deep pain and sorrow that Orthodox believers in Russia and Ukraine have found themselves in this state of war.

Face-to-face with the reality of suffering and war, we firmly anchor our hope in God’s mercy. The God of our salvation shall prosper us. Our God is the God of salvation (Ps. 68:20-21).

A joint statement from the ROCOR hierarchs serving in Europe from earlier this week reads:

We, the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad in Europe, are following with sadness and deep concern the events unfolding in eastern Ukraine. Conflicts between peoples by force of arms invariably cause great suffering among the innocent — especially children and the elderly — and bring with them division, one-sidedness and enmity. Our Church in her prayer and ministry has long united Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and representatives of many other peoples, among whom she carries out her service throughout the world, regardless of state borders or political systems.

We behold with deep appreciation the profound spiritual contribution of Kievan Rus’, later Ukraine, to the Orthodox Church of Christ throughout the world. Its path has been paved by the saints, from the Equal of the Apostles, St Vladimir, who baptised Russia with water, to St Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky), who shed his blood before the Cathedral of the Dormition in Kiev. With his blood, this holy martyr baptised Rus’ anew as Russia entered into a period of atheism, uniting Russia in his heart: he was successively Metropolitan of both Moscow and St Petersburg, and finally of Kiev. This hierarch, the first-offering in the assembly of the holy New Martyrs, shows us by his fate a wondrous, divine connection. And in the same period, when the flock of the Russian Church was scattered throughout the world, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galicia, born in the region of Novgorod, ascended to the cathedra of Kharkov and then Kiev, and then carried the obedience to be the head of the Russian Church Abroad.

It is not possible to agree with the extremely one-sided picture of current events portrayed by Western sources of information. Events, we know, are much more complex. Not daring to assume the role of judges, but rather fulfilling our calling as humble servants of the Church, we earnestly pray for the appeasement of human souls ‘in the lands of Ukraine’ — for the ‘softening of hearts’; and at the same time, for wisdom to be granted to all those who are now directly responsible for the fate of the peoples in Europe, including both Ukraine and Russia, with Belarus. We lift up these petitions in a special liturgical ‘Prayer for Ukraine’, inserted in our Divine Services in the same place where once, indeed for decades, our prayer for the peoples’ liberation from atheistic power was heard.

We call on everyone — those in power and ordinary citizens — to take heed of the forthcoming Great Fast, and we cry out with the words of the Gospel: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ (Matthew 4.17) , and ‘Repent, the time is near!’ (Apoc. 22.10), Temperance is required of us, not only in food and drink, but above all in sinful thoughts and passions. A sincere appeal to God will save the world from fratricide, and open the way to peaceful solutions to all our present circumstances.

Calling to mind the words of the Grand Duke, St Alexander Nevsky, ‘God is not in power, but in truth!’, we call on all the faithful to intensify their prayers ‘for the peace of the whole world’, for those who suffer, and for the conversion and salvation of the souls of all men.

May God bless and have mercy on all of us!

As OrthoChristian previously reported, both His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine and the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches have issued their own appeals.

Updated to include the statement of the ROCOR hierarchs serving in Europe

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