GERMAN DIOCESE: 23 May 2023
Appeal to the clergymen of the German Diocese
Honorable Fathers Serving in the German Diocese:
The war in Ukraine has tormented us for more than a year and we face great challenges. In our parishes, emigrants, refugees and various other people who came from the former Soviet Union, from the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, and from other countries, gather for united prayer. We cherish this communion with all those who emerged from the one baptismal font of Kievan Rus. All of us, as well as our Serbian and Bulgarian brothers, are united by the Church Slavonic language, established as the language of prayer and the recitation of Holy Scripture. It is with great anxiety here, in the diaspora, that we observe the emergence of new, purely politically motivated church structures.
In our days, we are forced to remind everyone that the "Russian Orthodox Church" is not named after the Russian Federation, but in honor of Holy Rus’, which in its time arose on the basis of cultural and religious principles, and not as a political-national entity. Therefore even today we remain true to our name and to our open, unifying structure.
As pastors and spiritual guides, we cannot reject anyone because of his or her origin, culture, language or political beliefs, or for such reasons change our attitude towards a person. Everyone who seeks to pray in the house of God, who seeks spiritual strength and comfort, should be accepted with that same love in Christ, everyone should pay heed, everyone should be given understanding and care.
In order to preserve peace in our churches in the face of fratricidal war, His Eminence Metropolitan Mark, from the very beginning of the conflict last year, determined that the clergy and elders of our parishes should not allow any political discussions or statements in churches and parish premises. This also applies to the use of flags, symbols or slogans in support of one side or another.
In their statements — both internal and public — our church points out that its vision is defined exclusively by the pastoral aspect, and the children of our church view the war in Ukraine differently. The Church therefore considers it necessary, as much as possible, to refrain from assessing this conflict.
We often learn firsthand about the moral abyss that unfolded during this war, about the loss of control and mutual barbaric violence. None of this can be justified at all. At the same time, our compassion for the victims should not turn into hatred for the perpetrators, and it should not, moreover, open the door to collective hatred.
For the sake of the spiritual salvation of our flock, we, as pastors and priests, are called to refrain from political speeches and propaganda, from unilateral patriotic statements, accusations and the condemnation of specific people. This concerns both our pastoral activity and public speaking, and it is necessary for us to follow the Apostle Paul:
"I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
In time, all truth shall be revealed, for Christ, Who is the Truth and the Life, will certainly provide for her victory. For this we pray: “Lord, give us Your world, Your truth and Your life.” Amen.
+ Bishop Job of Stuttgart
6/19 May, 2023
*Nota bene: This appeal is made to all priests serving in our diocese, including those who came recently as a result of the conflict. It is intended for the attention of all believers who may expect political statements from their priests, or who themselves are called upon to explain and evaluate the "political position" of the Russian Church Abroad in Germany.