- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2022

At least 272 clerics in the Russian Orthodox Church — the faith often aligned with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin — have signed an online letter calling for an immediate end of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the withdrawal of all troops and weapons.

The Russian-language document is posted online at Alphabet’s Google Docs service for signatures by a group using the name “Russian Priests for Peace.” Nothing else was immediately available about the activist group.

“We, the priests and deacons of the Russian Orthodox Church, each in our own name, appeal to everyone on whom the cessation of the fratricidal war in Ukraine depends, with a call for reconciliation and an immediate ceasefire,” the letter reads via automated translation.

“The life of every person is a priceless and unique gift of God, and therefore we wish the return of all soldiers — both Russian and Ukrainian — to their homes and families safe and sound,” the letter adds.

Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox patriarch of Moscow and Russia, who has been close to Mr. Putin, did not sign the letter.

But one of his representatives, Abbot Arseny Sokolov, was the first signatory. Among the other initial signers is Archpriest Evgeny Goryachev, who identified himself as a “veteran of the [Soviet Union’s] Afghan war.”

The letter contained a stark warning to Russia’s political and military leaders: “The Last Judgment awaits every person. No earthly authority, no doctors, no guards will protect from this judgment.”

The clerics warn that those taking communion “who give murderous orders” will do so “not into life, but into eternal torment.”

Quoting God’s statement to Cain in Genesis 4:10 — “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” — the letter adds, “Woe to every person who realizes that these words are addressed to him personally.”

Last weekend, Eastern Orthodox leader Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said the invasion was “beyond every sense of law and morality.” Pope Francis also condemned the Russian invasion, telling an Ash Wednesday audience, “War is madness. Put down your weapons!”

And the Rev. Dr. Ioan Sauca, an Eastern Orthodox priest and the acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, issued an appeal to Patriarch Kirill to actively oppose the war.

“In these times of hopelessness, many look to you as the one who could bring a sign of hope for a peaceful solution,” Mr. Sauca wrote. “Please, raise up your voice and speak on behalf of the suffering brothers and sisters, most of whom are also faithful members of our Orthodox Church.”

Previously, Kirill said “evil forces” are opposed to the reunification of what he called “Russian land,” comprising “Russia and Ukraine and Belarus and other tribes and peoples,” according to a Religion News Service report.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide