We, the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad in Europe, are following with sadness and deep concern the events unfolding in eastern Ukraine. Conflicts between peoples by force of arms invariably cause great suffering among the innocent — especially children and the elderly — and bring with them division, one-sidedness and enmity. Our Church in her prayer and ministry has long united Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and representatives of many other peoples, among whom she carries out her service throughout the world, regardless of state borders or political systems.
We behold with deep appreciation the profound spiritual contribution of Kievan Rus’, later Ukraine, to the Orthodox Church of Christ throughout the world. Its path has been paved by the saints, from the Equal of the Apostles, St Vladimir, who baptised Russia with water, to St Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky), who shed his blood before the Cathedral of the Dormition in Kiev. With his blood, this holy martyr baptised Rus’ anew as Russia entered into a period of atheism, uniting Russia in his heart: he was successively Metropolitan of both Moscow and St Petersburg, and finally of Kiev. This hierarch, the first-offering in the assembly of the holy New Martyrs, shows us by his fate a wondrous, divine connection. And in the same period, when the flock of the Russian Church was scattered throughout the world, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galicia, born in the region of Novgorod, ascended to the cathedra of Kharkov and then Kiev, and then carried the obedience to be the head of the Russian Church Abroad.
It is not possible to agree with the extremely one-sided picture of current events portrayed by Western sources of information. Events, we know, are much more complex. Not daring to assume the role of judges, but rather fulfilling our calling as humble servants of the Church, we earnestly pray for the appeasement of human souls ‘in the lands of Ukraine’ — for the ‘softening of hearts’; and at the same time, for wisdom to be granted to all those who are now directly responsible for the fate of the peoples in Europe, including both Ukraine and Russia, with Belarus. We lift up these petitions in a special liturgical ‘Prayer for Ukraine’, inserted in our Divine Services in the same place where once, indeed for decades, our prayer for the peoples’ liberation from atheistic power was heard.
We call on everyone — those in power and ordinary citizens — to take heed of the forthcoming Great Fast, and we cry out with the words of the Gospel: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ (Matthew 4.17) , and ‘Repent, the time is near!’ (Apoc. 22.10), Temperance is required of us, not only in food and drink, but above all in sinful thoughts and passions. A sincere appeal to God will save the world from fratricide, and open the way to peaceful solutions to all our present circumstances.
Calling to mind the words of the Grand Duke, St Alexander Nevsky, ‘God is not in power, but in truth!’, we call on all the faithful to intensify their prayers ‘for the peace of the whole world’, for those who suffer, and for the conversion and salvation of the souls of all men.
May God bless and have mercy on all of us!
Munich – London
22 February, 2022
+ Mark, Metropolitan of Berlin and Germany
+ Irenei, Bishop of London and Western Europe
+ Alexander, Bishop of Vevey
+ Job, Bishop of Stuttgart