WelCom April 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has ‘earned the hatred of the whole world,’ according to the leader of Orthodox Christianity.
‘We are entering a new era of cold war,’ Patriarch Bartholomew of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople said in a Turkish-language broadcast interview.
‘We do not know what will happen next. I hope this cold war period will last a short time. I hope World War 3 won’t break out.’
Patriarch Bartholomew praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for ‘setting a very good example for his people’ in resistance to the Russian invasion. At the same time, he rebuked Putin for inflicting ‘a great injustice’ on Ukraine.
‘Ukraine was liberated 30 years ago, but they continue to be brothers. They continue to be coreligionists, yet Putin has declared a war against them,’ he said.
‘Putin is a very intelligent and dynamic leader, so it is not easy to understand how he decided this. Putin did himself an injustice.
He earned the hatred of the whole world.’
However Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has offered moral legitimacy to Putin’s ambitions. This was evident in the prayers for peace he offered in the days since the invasion began.
‘God forbid that a terrible line stained with the blood of our brothers should be drawn between Russia and Ukraine,’ he said.‘May the Lord preserve the Russian land. When I say “Russian” … the land which now includes Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples.’
The Russian Patriarch’s blessing for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church and unleashed an internal rebellion that experts say is unprecedented. Kirill, 75, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, sees the war as a bulwark against a West he considers decadent. He and Putin share a vision of the ‘Russkiy Mir’, or ‘Russian World’, linking spiritual unity and territorial expansion aimed at parts of the ex-Soviet Union, experts told Reuters.
Patriarch Bartholomew, by contrast, expressed ‘solidarity … spiritual, moral, [and] through prayer’ with the defenders of Ukraine as he praised the Ukrainian government for refusing to cave in to Putin’s demands.
‘They do not want to surrender, and they are right,’ he said in the broadcast interview. ‘Why should they surrender their freedom to the invader? Because right now, Ukraine is under Russian occupation. Will we say war or occupation? It’s the same. A very bad situation, a foreign country, but a coreligionist and a neighbour at the same time.’
Sources: Washington Examiner, Reuters