Russian Church representative explains Church’s stance towards the war

Moscow, November 3, 2022

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The Church has never considered war to be a good thing. At the same time, it’s outside of politics and mustn’t get bound up in any politicized anti-war positions, explains Vakhtang Kipshidze, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Church’s Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Media.

Kipshidze spoke extensively on the Church’s true ministry and its role in times of military conflict and war on the Chronicle of the New World program on RTVI News yesterday.

“The Church has never considered war something good…. Any war is connected with sin,” the Church representative said.

On the other hand, “The Church has always blessed military service, as a service in defense of the fatherland, in service of others, whom those go to the front defend and for whom they accept death. This part of Church teaching doesn’t imply not resisting evil with violence. Man has the right to self-defense,” Kipshidze said.

Moreover, to not defend those whom you love isn’t righteous—it’s a sin, he added.

In March, about 300 priests of the Russian Church signed an anti-war appeal. Asked about the Church’s stance towards such clergy, Kipshidze noted that this appeal led to great optimism in the West, among politicians who want the Church to become an opposition power in Russian society.

“But the Church won’t become part of political opposition, because the Church is outside of politics. It’s on the side of the people, it’s on the side of those whom it’s supposed to nourish pastorally,” including soldiers, he said.

A complicating factor is that the anti-war position in Russia today has been politicized and mobilized into an anti-government position, Kipshidze explained. “The Church won’t join a political opposition,” he affirmed.

“In some ideal world, there may be a non-politicized anti-war position, but we live in the real world, and our anti-war position now is monopolized by anti-Russian political forces and is used not to establish peace, but to provoke internal divisions in Russian society.”

The “alternative opinion,” meaning the anti-war position, “which exists among the Russian Orthodox Church, should remain outside the bounds of the Church, because it’s become a form of political activity, and there’s no place for political activity in the Church, in my view,” the Church representative continued.

Rather, the Church is open to people of all political views and people who hold positions in the government, Kipshidze noted.

The Church is non-political, and it fights for peace through prayer, not political manifestations. “This is the meaning and content of what the Church does in the context of the present conflict.”

The Patriarch’s position is that Church will never have solidarity with Western powers that want to harm Russia, Kipshidze said, and the concept of neutrality must be considered in this context. The Church is outside of politics, but can never stand with those who are against the fatherland, he explained.

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