War produces new unity in Ukraine Christian Churches


War is creating a new unity between the various Christian Churches in Ukraine, Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity last Friday.

It also poses two big challenges to the global Church.

War is everyone’s responsibility

“First, there is a need for a new reflection on the social doctrine of the Church on the theme of war and peace,” Shevchuck says.

“The other … is the relationship between the Church and the State.

“There is an obvious need to work out the correct language to describe the new challenges in these areas but also to have the courage at the ecumenical level to find the right answers.”

Pope Francis agrees.

“We must ask ourselves – what have the churches done and what can they do to contribute to the development of a world community, capable of realising fraternity starting with peoples and nations that live social friendship?

“It is a question that we must think about together.”

Ukraine unity

The spirit of common cause in the majority Orthodox nation starts with Ukraine’s Council of Churches and Religious Communities (CCRC), Shevchuck explained to the Pontifical Council.

He is the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, the largest of the 23 Eastern churches in communion with Rome.

The Council “represents 95 percent of religious society,” and striving for peace is its principal aim, he explained.

As an example: “on the eve of the Russian attack … the Council made an appeal to the Russian president to stop.

“We proposed ourselves as mediators…of peace.

“The ecumenical reaction to this war has been one of explicit condemnation.”

He specifically named and thanked Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Ecumenical Council of Churches and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, who have voiced solidarity with Ukraine.

He also noted the only Christian group to stand apart from the CCRC is the Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill.

This poses a serious danger for Christianity in the modern world, Shevchuck said.

Breaking communion

The Sunday after the war began, Kirill explained the war is justified and must be fought to defend Orthodoxy.

At least 15 of the 53 eparchies in communion with Moscow now refuse to commemorate Kirill during the liturgy, Shevchuck said.

The Moscow Patriarchate community in Ukraine feels “neglected and forgotten,”. Most of the churches destroyed by the Russian army were theirs.

So far, about 100 churches, monasteries and religious buildings have been destroyed.

Humanitarian catastrophe

The Ukraine situation is a “humanitarian catastrophe,” says Shevchuk.

He offers facts: 10 million Ukrainian citizens have fled their homes. Nearly five million have abandoned the country. Mass graves have been found. People have been violated.

Putin has two goals for Ukraine, Shevchick said: demilitarisation and denazification.

Demilitarisation would help fulfil the second goal – proving the war is aiming to eliminate the Ukrainian people.

The instructions given to the Russian army on what to do with the Ukrainian people can be compared to “a textbook genocide,” where “the whole people had to be eliminated.”


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