APPEAL OF CLERGY OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH FOR RECONCILIATION AND AN END TO WAR
We, priests and deacons of the Russian Orthodox Church, each in his own name, address ourselves to all those on whom depends the ending of the fratricidal war in Ukraine with an appeal for reconciliation and an immediate ceasefire.
We are making this appeal just after the Sunday of the Last Judgement, as we approach Forgiveness Sunday.
The Last Judgement awaits everyone. No earthly power, no doctors, no bodyguards can save a person from this judgement. Caring for the salvation of everyone who considers themselves a child of the Russian Orthodox Church, we do not wish that any should appear before that judgement bearing the heavy burden of mothers’ curses. We recall that the Blood of Christ, shed by the Saviour for the salvation of the world, will be taken by those who give murderous orders, not unto eternal life, but unto torment.
We are grieving over the ordeal to which our brothers and sisters in Ukraine have been undeservedly subjected.
We remind everyone that the life of every human being is an invaluable and unrepeatable gift of God, and therefore we wish that all the soldiers and other military personnel, both Russian and Ukrainian, should return to their own homes and families safe and sound.
With great sorrow we contemplate that great gulf which our children and grandchildren in Russia and Ukraine will have to overcome in order once again to befriend, respect and love one another.
Respecting the God-given gift of human freedom, we consider that the Ukrainian people should make their choice, not at gunpoint, but independently, without pressure either from West or East.
In expectation of Forgiveness Sunday we recall that the gates of Paradise are open to all, even to the one who has sinned greatly, if he asks forgiveness of those whom he has humiliated, offended, despised, or even of those who were killed at his hands or by his orders. There is no other path than that of forgiveness and reconciliation.
‘The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand’, said God to Cain, who had envied his younger brother. Woe to everyone who recognises that these words are addressed to him personally.
No peaceful appeal for peace and an end to the war should be forcibly terminated and regarded as a crime, for according to the divine commandment, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’.
We call all the opposing sides to dialogue, for there is no other alternative to violence. Only the ability truly to listen to the other can give hope of a way out of the abyss into which our countries have been cast in the space of only a few days.
Let each and every one of us enter upon the Great Lent in the spirit of faith, hope and love.
Stop the war.
Signed: 200+ clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church.