MOSCOW: March 19, 2014
Statement by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church
The following document was approved at a session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 19, 2014 (Journal No. 3).
The attention of the entire Orthodox world is transfixed upon the tragic events taking place in the Ukrainian land. Blood has been spilt in Kiev. Unrest has spread throughout the entire country.
Responding to this acute situation and to the threats of violent takeover of churches and monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, having gathered on March 6-9 of this year in Istanbul, jointly addressed an appeal for the peaceful resolution of civil resistance and for the non-intervention of political forces into church matters. The Primates also bore witness to the fact that they pray for the return of those who are today outside of ecclesiastical communion to the bosom of the Holy Church.
Having gathered today at a session of the Holy Synod, we once again appeal to Ukraine, so dear to our hearts, and bear witness that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church correspondingly called for and continues to call for peace and for prayer, without identifying with (in contrast with a series of other religious organizations) one or another side of the political conflict. Her devoted children live in all regions of Ukraine, she is the largest religious community in the nation, which lives a unified life with her people, she is right beside them in their moment of trials and sorrows. Herein lies the unique character of her social service, for people who live in Ukraine belong to various ethnic, lingual and cultural communities, which have various political viewpoints. Some strive for the maximal integration in political structures created by the Western European governments. Others, on the contrary, strive for developing relations with the people of historic Rus, for the preservation of their original native culture.
The contrasting social tendencies, alternately seizing the advantage over the other, are polarizing Ukrainian society. The Church, rising above these differences, cannot identify herself with only one of the aforementioned points of view. On the contrary, the canonical Orthodox Church, preserving communion with all of Orthodox Christianity, is the sole force which can, for the sake of preserving civil peace, pacify and unite all peoples who adhere to diametrically opposed convictions.
The mission of the Church, the sacred duty of all of her children, is to strive for peace on the land of the people of Holy Rus, to call for the rejection of language of hatred and enmity. Whatever might happen in the sphere of inter-governmental relations, however political conflict there may be, the unity of faith and the brotherhood of people who have emerged from a single baptismal font cannot be erased from our common past. We believe that it cannot be erased from our common future, in which the fraternal Belarussian, Russian, Ukrainian and other nations must live in peace, love and solidarity.
The Russian Orthodox Church has many times called for the prevention of violence, bloodshed and internecine strife on the Ukrainian land. Unfortunately, we have not been able to avoid tragic events: people have died, many have suffered. That is why today, again and again, we call upon everyone for whom the Ukrainian people and peace in Ukraine is dear: violence cannot continue.
The borders of the Church are not determined by political preferences, ethnic differences and even state borders. The Church preserves her unity despite all changing circumstances. At the same time, it is of principal importance whether the peoples of historic Rus can preserve those values upon which Christian civilization was built, values which allowed us to erect our glorious past, and, we believe, which makes a dignified future possible.
It is important to preserve our loyalty to the fundamental values established by the Gospel of Christ and to manifest the eternal Divine law not only in our personal lives, but in the lives of our peoples, in their interrelationships, which must remain fraternal even in moments of difficult tribulations. May God’s judgment, which is manifest over each person and each nation in history, prove us worthy laborers in the vineyards of Christ, devotees of His truth and manifesting works of His love.
Lifting up our prayers to the Lord with one mouth, we are called upon to heed the words of Holy Apostle Paul, to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 1:3).