Call for Peace Amid Escalating Violence
STATEMENT of the COUNCIL OF BISHOPS of the UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ: greetings in His Holy Name, as we journey through the sacred days of this year’s Holy Week!
It is with the heavy hearts that we write this note to the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Christian community throughout the world. The situation in our ancestral homeland Ukraine is of increasing concern.
Many people greet us with words of compassion and spiritual concern across the United States of America and around the world. Today, dear brothers and sisters, we wish to add our voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of Ukraine and throughout the world: from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful Ukraine; we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace becomes a reality! War conflict must not take place! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
All Christians throughout the world have entered into the sacred time of Holy Week. We just journeyed with Christ, entering into the old Jerusalem. We have witnessed the Biblical exclamations: “Hosanna in the highest… Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!” Yet, we see the entrance of the evil one into the lives of so many people in our ancestral homeland Ukraine. On one hand, as one Christian community, we are praying and suffering with Christ; yet, on the other hand – it seems that one nation, that claims Christian roots, takes aggressive actions against its neighbors. How can this happen during this sacred time? We primarily ask this of the political and religious leaders of the Russian Federation, whose actions contradict every attempt for peaceful solution to the conflict.
Current threats and military activities in Eastern Ukraine inspire us to pray to God for peaceful resolution. It is a painful reality that the peace of Christ’s presence during this sacred time of Holy Week is in jeopardy. No resolution has been achieved so far in the conflict and even greater tension and alarm exist today. Hundreds of thousands of families are impacted by the militarized activity and experience the violation of the basic human right to live in peace as family. Armed confrontation stirs up the culture of mistrust and hatred between people.
We believe God's mission and salvation should result in peace and reconciliation among the people. It can be reached through respect and diplomatic negotiation. All men and women of good will are bound by the sacred task of pursuing peace. We hereby make a forceful and urgent call to the entire Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine and Diaspora, and also to every Christian of other confessions: pray for peace in Ukraine for it belongs to all of humanity!
Our prayers are for the people of Eastern Ukraine: sufferings in a desperate economic climate, living in want and fear. May those that are concerned - be reminded that war and isolation are not the solution they seek or need.
Our sincere prayers are for the people of the Western Ukraine: may they recognize the frustration and limitations of the Eastern parts of Ukraine and build up each other to achieve solidarity with sisters and brothers in the East.
Our humble prayers are for the nations and their leaders – Ukraine, United States, European Union and others - who directly influence the whole region in the dispute with the Russian Federation. Conversation at the table, not confrontation on the battlefield, is what is most needed.
For the sake of all in the world community, particularly those living in Ukraine and being manipulated by the actions of the Russian government, on behalf of the Holy Orthodox Church, we must call for an end to the ongoing threats and intimidation.
In Christ's never-ending promise of peace and reconciliation, we continue to pray and work for the healing and invite you to do the same. God's justice and peace need to be done in Ukraine and wherever people live under the threat of war.
We ask all Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholics and people of goodwill throughout the United States of America to join us in witnessing to the hope we have in our hearts for peace for the Ukrainian people. May our prayers, fasting, and advocacy move our nation to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict in our ancestral homeland!
With prayers in Christ, Who accepted suffering and crucifixion for His creation,
Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
and Locum Tenens of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Diaspora
By Grace of God Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA