Ukraine: Three Mideast patriarchs fear repercussions of war

26.02.2022, 21:00
Ukraine and world
Ukraine: Three Mideast patriarchs fear repercussions of war - фото 1
Heads of three ritual Catholic Churches in the Middle East say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could have serious repercussions in their region and in the Christian world.

Source: Vaticannews

Russia's war on Ukraine is a source of “great bitterness and deep disappointment” according to the Latin Patriarch Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa of Jerusalem. The escalation that led to the conflict "is a defeat for all those who believe in the possibility of overcoming differences in a different way,” he told AsiaNews.

After days of the buildup of troops along the Ukrainian border, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 26 from 3 sides, in what is seen as the largest ground war in Europe since World War II.

Repercussion in the Christian world

Patriarch Pizzaballa who is participating in the “Mediterranean, frontier of peace” meeting in Florence, Italy, from 23 to 27 February, expressed concerns about the divisions between the Churches of Russia and Ukraine and their possible repercussions.

Such confrontations “will have consequences since conflicts between Churches accompany political divisions and have been exploited for [certain] political visions.”

“Unfortunately, we must acknowledge this.” But “hopefully, the split “within the Orthodox world will not widen” for this would be a “problem of all Christian communities”.

In Baghdad, Iraq, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church expressed "solidarity" with the suffering people, saying, “We too have suffered in recent years from war.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said he was struck by the remark of Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr who wondered why two Christian countries were waging war against each other.

He denounced the pursuit of self-interest. “Wars are just not the solution; on the contrary, a solution and a way to engage in dialogue and reduce tensions must be sought.”

Consequences in the ME

Patriarch Pizzaballa expressed serious concern over the developments in Europe saying Moscow “plays a very important role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East”, and this “show of force could have repercussions on our region.”

Cardinal Sako reiterated the fears of the Latin Patriarch for the entire Middle East. He said tensions between Moscow and Kyiv evokes the spectre of “a third world war”, which he hopes will happen. But “Christians too must personally act,” he said.

Lebanese Patriarch Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian of the Armenian Catholic Church expressed his closeness to innocent civilians on both sides of the war who “are paying the highest price”.

In his opinion, external forces are using Ukraine “to sow confusion”. He told AsiaNews that the heart of the dispute is not Kyiv "but everything that revolves around it".

It is the same with Lebanon, which was the battleground for “the conflict of other countries, but whose population paid the price for the violence.”

Day of prayer

The Middle East Church leaders expressed strong support for the day of prayer and fasting called by Pope Francis on March 2, Ash Wednesday, for peace and end to the war in Europe.

“This is a very important day for us”. It will be “a very intense event” and will include a special intention “for reconciliation between the Churches” and for “the end of conflicts”, the Latin Patriarch said.

Cardinal Sako also expects broad participation in the day of prayer in Iraq. (Source: AsiaNews)