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Anglican leader says Russia is destroying its own 'Integrity and Faith and Future'

by Glyn Jones

On a visit to war-ravaged Ukraine Rowan Williams, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012, has issued a series of stark warnings.

Speaking to a local audience in the theatre of the city of Chernivtsi, Lord Williams set out the consequences for the invasion of Russian forces. 

"The oppressor, the aggressor destroys others but in doing so destroys his own integrity and faith and future.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury warned, "Those that abuse the freedom and humanity of others are in fact destroying their own humanity - wounding the image of God in themselves as well as in their victims."

The event at Chernivtsi theatre was organised by the international organisation Religions for Peace, who believe it is the first time this type of visit by faith-leaders to a war zone, has been undertaken while the fighting is continuing.

Alongside people from Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, the delegation included representative of the Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh faiths.   

Rowan Williams spoke of the concern across the world, for the plight of the Ukrainian people. 

"We are here because the terrible events of the last months, have created turmoil in our own spirits grief and anger at what you have suffered.

"The least we can be is to be with you and sit with you - even if only for this short time and even if we are overwhelmed with the tragedy."

The Religions for Peace delegation also met with Ukrainian refugees, who have fled from the worst of the fighting.

Lord Williams told his audience in the theatre he had found those meetings inspiring, "We have already found strength today in recognising what freedom and humanity might look like in the faces of those we have met and in their relationship with each other."

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