Hierarchical Synod of the UGCC published the Message on War and Just Peace

19 February, 09:57
Hierarchical Synod of the UGCC published the Message on War and Just Peace - фото 1
The Hierarchical Synod of the UGCC (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church) in Ukraine has released a Message on war and a just peace in the context of new ideologies 'Rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor' (Jer. 22:3). The text of the Message was approved at the 96th session of the Synod, which took place on February 7–8, 2024, in Lviv.

"The time of war is extremely painful and cruel: it inflicts countless wounds on every individual and on society as a whole," the Message states. "First and foremost, we must realize that endurance is necessary for victory in the struggle against such a treacherous enemy."

The hierarchs of the UGCC also addressed the global community, emphasizing that by starting a hybrid war against Ukraine, Russia has truly challenged the entire civilized world. It has so confused it that many people have ceased to distinguish between truth and falsehood, between good and evil.

"We are witnessing a terrible substitution: what is evil is dressed in the garments of good, while what is good is branded with the mark of hell. In such a distorted world," the bishops emphasize, "it will not be possible to avoid or stop wars."

According to the bishops of the UGCC, verbal declarations and vague political language will be powerless, and diplomatic neutrality without clear moral principles and orientations will gradually turn into moral relativism or even weakness, which today prevents many politicians in the civilized world from recognizing the crimes of the Russian troops in Ukraine as genocide of the Ukrainian people because it would require their intervention, and not just expressing their concern and deep anxiety.

This Message, as emphasized by the UGCC, is intended to contribute to a better understanding by the international community of the challenges of today and the place of Ukraine and Ukrainians on the spiritual map of the modern world.

"For many years, Ukrainian society has been trying to convey to the international community that in Russia, a new aggressive ideology is emerging, which is a mixture of resentment, nationalism, and pseudo-religious messianism. However, throughout the time preceding the war, no one heard us. This ideology, which the Russian authorities have dubbed the 'Russian world,' has been established in Russia as official and the only correct one, and the role of the Moscow Patriarchate in the creation and promotion of this ideology is now widely known and indisputable. The Russian Orthodox Church has given the 'Russian world' ideology a quasi-religious spirit, portraying Russia as the last bastion of Christianity on earth, which opposes the forces of evil. At the same time, the ROC (Russian Orthodox Church) endows the most deadly nuclear weapon on earth with an almost sacred status... The current challenges posed by the doctrine of the 'Russian world' and deviations towards relativism bring great spiritual and ideological confusion to human society, as a result of which many people and even individual governments lose the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood, good and evil," the bishops of the UGCC emphasize.

The hierarchs criticized attempts to pacify the aggressor.

"The experience of the current aggression from Russia proves: unprincipled pacifist slogans of appeasement encourage the aggressor to further violence. In this historical context, Ukraine's prophetic gesture of three decades ago — its refusal to possess nuclear weapons and trust in the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum, an international agreement concluded on December 5, 1994, between Ukraine, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States on security guarantees to Ukraine in connection with its acquisition of non-nuclear status — is a prophetic gesture of trust in the power of international law by the Christian people and a manifesto of its national aspirations for fair security and peace. This gesture now deserves special attention and a fresh interpretation. Now, after the start of full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine, non-nuclear states feel completely defenseless against the possessors of deadly warheads as never before. And considering Russia's capture and shelling of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, the situation becomes even bleaker. How can one talk about international security today when a state, which is a member of the UN Security Council and possesses one of the largest nuclear potentials on the planet, poses a threat to this security for the sake of its aggressive goals and resorts to blatant nuclear blackmail of the entire international community," the Message says.

The bishops of the UGCC emphasize that in the light of the teaching of the Catholic Church, Ukraine's security and defense forces are carrying out legitimate lawful defense of their state and people:

"Today, there is no lack of evidence that Russia has in no way wished to resolve its contradictions with Ukraine at the negotiating table as an equal and sovereign partner. The aggressor country denies the very right to the existence of the Ukrainian people and its state as a subject of international law, refusing the possibility of dialogue and agreements with sovereign Ukraine."

The bishops of the UGCC also touched on the topic of neutrality. According to them, "neutrality should not extend to the point where it becomes passive approval of injustice and crimes, as there is a moral imperative to resist unjust aggression against any country and to defend the values on which the international community is based."

In the Message, the bishops of the UGCC emphasize that Russian aggression against Ukraine is not a struggle for disputed territory: it is an attack on international law and a crime against peace:

"The current war in Europe is a conflict of identities with a zero-sum game, as Ukrainians seek to preserve their state independence and the right to be Ukrainians, while Russians seek to deprive Ukrainians of their right to exist as such and to revive their empire. And the atrocities of the Russian army against the civilian population, which the whole world is witnessing practically in real-time, are a brutal affront to human dignity and a crime of genocide. Maintaining a semblance of neutrality in such a situation is a betrayal of the values of respect for international law, justice, and human dignity. This is a position based on interests, not on principles."

The current regime in Russia, the bishops of the UGCC emphasize, has set out to dismantle the former structure of international security, carry out a new division of the world, and establish its own rules in it. International institutions and mechanisms that supported this order now show their powerlessness in the face of the onslaught of its destroyers. All this has become not only a shock to the world community but also a challenge to the Church of Christ.

In the Message, the bishops of the UGCC provide an answer to the question: "How should Christians act in the world today?"

"Above all, one must realize the global nature of the current threat and affirm and develop the power of just international law. It is erroneous to believe that this war is purely a local conflict between two peoples, and therefore, by reconciling them, one can return to the usual comfort. Today, all the principles of human civilization are under threat," the bishops of the UGCC warn, and call:

"If contemporary humanity — the humanity of the 'post-truth era' — does not recognize objective truth, it will gradually turn into a 'world of post-justice'. If it does not develop and affirm social justice based on basic principles of human dignity, sanctity and inviolability of human life, common good, and solidarity, then it will find itself in societies where the concept of law is replaced by the concept of interests of certain individuals or criminal groups, the right of the strong prevails over the supremacy of law, the law is not the same for everyone, and the foundations of international law and the inviolability of state sovereignty are sacrificed to geopolitical and economic interests."

"'Do not let the power destroy humanity!' — this is the cry of suffering Ukraine to the world community, calling for the proclamation of the objective values of just social construction and international cooperation," the bishops of the UGCC call out to the world.