After the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine, Christian reactions poured in from around the world.
Ukrainian bishops ready to defend their homeland
Hours after the Russian offensive began, the Ukrainian Catholic Bishops’ Conference sent a message to the faithful, inviting them to pray for “the leaders of our state, for our army” as well as “for those who started the war and were blinded by aggression.”
The bishops of the attacked country urged the faithful not to give in to “hatred and rage.” But, they urged, “let us be ready to defend our homeland according to our abilities and responsibilities, in the army or in our workplaces, in hospitals,” or through any material or spiritual support.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow calls for peace
“I call on the entire Russian Orthodox Church to raise a deep and fervent prayer for the swift restoration of peace,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement released on the afternoon of February 24 on the patriarchate’s website.
“As patriarch of all Russia and primate of this Church, whose flock is in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries, I deeply sympathize with all those who have been affected by the misfortune,” he confided, calling on those involved in the conflict “to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.” Kirill also called on all members of his Church to provide assistance to the victims and refugees.
“The Russian and Ukrainian peoples have a centuries-old common history that goes back to the baptism of Russia,” he then explained, hoping that this history “will help overcome the divisions and contradictions that have led to the current conflict.”
Strong condemnation of the Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, strongly condemned “the Russian invasion” in a statement issued by the Patriarchate.
Saying he was “shocked,” the 81-year-old phoned the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the morning to express his pain at the “flagrant violation of any notion of international law.”
The Orthodox leader said he prayed to God to “enlighten the leaders of the Russian Federation” so that they would understand the “tragic consequences” of their decisions, which could trigger a global military conflict.
The Pope’s secretary of state
Cardinal Pietro Parolin released a message in various languages, calling for peace and urging the faithful not to lose hope.
The message can be viewed here. He echoed the Holy Father’s call to make Ash Wednesday, this coming March 2, a day of fasting and prayer for the intention of peace in Ukraine.
Some 60 Catholic bishops gathered in Florence, meanwhile, for a summit on the Mediterranean, abandoned the meeting discussions and took to Eucharistic Adoration to pray for peace.
Christian churches call for respect of borders
The World Council of Churches has called for “an immediate end to the current armed hostilities and the protection of all human lives and communities threatened by this violence. It insisted on “respect for established national borders.”