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World News

Ukrainian Churches unite against Russian 'Holy War' declaration

by Lydia Davies

Ukrainian Churches have strongly condemned a declaration by the Russian Orthodox Church advocating for a "Holy War" against Ukraine, urging global Christian organisations to denounce the mandate that threatens to "wipe their country from the map".

The Conference of European Churches, along with Roman Catholic and Orthodox leaders in Ukraine, said in a statement: "We have repeatedly condemned Russian world ideology, which serves to justify Russian aggression.

"This latest document denies the Ukrainian people's existence as a unique ethnic group and right to its own sovereign statehood. It justifies war crimes and acts of genocide already committed by the Russian Federation on Ukraine's territory and calls for new ones to be committed."

The declaration, propagated by the World Russian People's Council, has been described by Ukrainian religious leaders as carrying "full moral responsibility" for the war and called for international condemnation.

They "urged the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and other international bodies to denounce the document and support sanctions against its backers".

Metropolitan Epiphany (Dumenko) of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) voiced his community's rejection of the harmful ideologies promoted by Moscow. He declared in Kyiv: "Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine isn't sacred, but diabolical, and everyone who justifies it, who assists the Russian destruction of Ukraine, serves not God, but Satan."

Amidst this backdrop of tension and conflict, Patriarch Kirill positioned the conflict as a defence against Western globalism: "The Russian people, arms in hand, are defending their lives... this is a Holy War... Russia and its people... are fulfilling the mission of protecting the world from the onslaught of globalism and victory by a West which has fallen into Satanism."

Despite these assertions from Moscow, the UOC articulated in the statement that such calls for Holy War clash with Christian values: "The Orthodox Church in Russia should raise its voice against this war. Justifications of military aggression are incompatible with evangelical teaching."

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