Silence kills: continue to speak out on Ukraine

Silence kills

Silence kills, and the Ukrainian Catholic Church is urging the world to continue to speak out about Ukraine’s struggle to survive.

Major Archbishop Svietoslav Shevchuk’s appeal comes as Ukraine’s largest Orthodox church (UOC) reasserts its independence from the Moscow Patriarchate.

“We are seeing today how silence can kill,” Shevchuk says.

Everyone who chooses to stay silent, “who lack courage to condemn the Russian aggression or even express their position, participate in this crime.

“I appeal to intellectual, diplomatic, political and economic circles to condemn this Russian war against the Ukrainian nation. Let us not stay silent in the face of falsehood, injustice and sin.

“To stay silent would “encourage the sinner to keep committing crimes” and “create additional space for death.

“We deeply regret even Christian leaders are not only creating the war’s ideology, while inciting and justifying evil, but also covering up the Russian army’s criminal activities with Christian rhetoric.

“Today, we must stand up to this evil together, realising that those who preach hatred, encourage murder and justify the war in Ukraine become responsible for these crimes themselves.”

The head of Ukraine’s independent Orthodox church says: “In these special conditions of war, imposed on us by Russia, we thank our courageous soldiers-defenders who’ve saved our capital from invasion by this latest embittered horde.

“Just as what once seemed incredible became real before, so we should believe that our latest dream of victory over the aggressor and a just peace, our dream of overcoming Orthodox divisions, will also become a reality.”

Ukrainian officials are renewing calls for greater Western help and heavy weapons.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging European Union governments to impose new sanctions on Moscow, including banning Russian oil imports.

Confusion is stirring about the status of Ukraine’s Moscow-affiliated UOC. Last weekend it ratified its disagreement with Russia’s Patriarch Kirill’s support for the invasion, declaring its “full independence and autonomy”.

Kirril is confident “no temporary external obstacles” would ever “destroy the spiritual unity” of Russians and Ukrainians.

Dismissing claims UOC had “separated from the Russian Orthodox church”, a Russian church spokesman says UOC simply “confirmed the independence and autonomy” granted it in 1990, shortly before Ukraine’s independence.

The number of parishes allied to the UOC and Russian Patriarch-supporters depends on who’s telling the story.

Last week, Ukraine’s Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (PCU) said over 400 parishes had “voted by absolute majorities” to transfer allegiance to it from the UOC, giving it 7,200 votes compared to UOC’s 11,000.

Appealing for peace, the UOC says over 6,000,000 Ukrainians, many of them Orthodox, have been forced to flee abroad.

PCU’s “schism” in 2019, with backing from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, had “deepened misunderstandings and led to physical confrontation”, the council says. PCU cannot be recognised as canonical unless it restored the “apostolic succession of its bishops”.

The PCU says the UOC remains “linked de facto to Moscow” and its expression of “disagreement” with Kirill is inadequate given he is “blessing the killing of Ukrainians”.

At present Shevchuk says 500,000 troops are engaged in the war along a 3000-kilometre front – the largest military confrontation since WWII.

Nowhere in Ukraine is safe from missiles he says.


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