Geneva, March 21, 2023
The World Council of Churches is concerned about the Ukrainian state’s treatment of the Kiev Caves Lavra.
WCC General Secretary Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay issued a statement last week decrying the state’s actions against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which “raise genuine questions with regard to respect for freedom of religion or belief.”
The WCC thus joins the ranks of the United Nations, which recognized the persecution of the Church in statements in October and January, and hierarchs from various Orthodox Churches who have spoken out in defense of the persecuted Kiev Caves brotherhood (see here, here, here, and here for a few examples).
The WCC’s statement reads in full:
It is unfortunate that such actions – including with regard to the UOC’s monastic community of the ancient Dormition Kiev Caves Lavra – appear to target the church itself. The actions being taken against the UOC do appear to raise genuine questions with regard to respect for freedom of religion or belief.
While the WCC has condemned the Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, we believe that it is important to protect the presence and witness of the church wherever it is found, as we proclaim the grace, peace, and love of Christ to the world.
The WCC will monitor this situation closely, and respond appropriately in accordance with the principles of international human rights law and the protection of religious freedom.
In the meantime, the WCC continues to encourage dialogue for peace, including among its member churches and ecumenical partners in Russia, Ukraine and around the world. We believe that Christian leaders can and must bring light, hope, and healing to the tragic context. Thus, we plan to convene a roundtable with church leaders from the respective countries, in the near future, with the latter objectives in mind.
May the God of love and peace guard and guide us during these difficult times as we pray for Christ’s love to move us to justice, peace, reconciliation, and unity.
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
In June, the Central Committee of the WCC issued a statement against the war in Ukraine. In October, then-Acting General Secretary of the WCC, the Romanian Orthodox priest Fr. John Sauca, met with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill in Moscow to discuss the war in Ukraine and its effect on inter-Church relations.