Religious Leaders Condemn the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and Pray for Peace

Russian and Ukrainian religious leaders at home and abroad are speaking out against the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and are calling for peace and mercy.

Kharkiv, Ukraine - January, 31, 2022: A column of armored personnel carriers rides on a winter road. Ukraine prepares to defend its country from Russian invasion
Kharkiv, Ukraine, Photo by Seneline

His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, who is loyal to the Moscow church, appealed to Vladimir Putin to end what he termed the fratricidal war launched in the early hours of Thursday, February 24by the Russian president. He described the war as “a repetition of the sin of Cain, who killed his own brother out of envy,” asserting Putin’s actions have “no justification either from God or from people.”

“I call everyone to common sense, which teaches us to solve our earthly problems in mutual dialogue and mutual understanding,” he said.

In a statement published on the website of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), Metropolitan Epiphanius called on everyone “to protect Ukraine from Russian fight for Ukrainian statehood, to support the [Ukranian] armed forces and all our defenders. Together we can stand. With God's help, we will win this fight. The truth is on our side. Our state is supported by the world community, all people of goodwill. Millions offer their daily prayers for peace for Ukraine.”

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who granted autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 2018, condemned the  invasion as a “groundless act of attack by Russia against Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state in Europe, as well as the violation of human rights and brutal violence against humanity, especially against civilians.”

Stopping far short of condemning the events of the past two days, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church nonetheless urged “all parties to the conflict to do everything possible to avoid casualties among the peaceful population,” and to assist refugees and those in need.

Archbishop Daniel, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, said in an interview with Religion News Service on Friday, “We are two distinct groups of people, Russians and Ukrainians. We’re people of one faith—we’re Christians. But our cultural background makes us different... Ukrainians are striving or trying for centuries to preserve their identity—who they are as children of God.”

“Some people may watch and hear reports and watch videos and say, ‘I live in America.  It’s thousands of miles away. As far as I’m concerned, Ukraine is far, far away from here, and it’s not dangerous for me.’

“Well, it is. We live in a cosmopolitan society, in a cosmopolitan world. It’s no longer about one single nation here and there, spread around the globe. We’re all interconnected, our economies, our way of life, our cultures. And then there is the very core of our existence: created in the image and likeness of God.” 


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religious leaders Ukraine invastion Metropolitan Onuphry Metropolitan Epiphanius