As I posted earlier tonight I realized that it’s almost 8 months since the last time I posted on this blog, whose premium status I did not even renew when it came up for renewal earlier this year. Eight months is a long spell of silence. Except I have not been silent; I have been writing primarily for the church that I pastor. So perhaps readers of this blog might have wondered why I have not written anything about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the devastating war that is now in its third month. I have not written anything here because on this matter too, my voice was heard in other ways and other places on the web.
I have repeatedly condemned this war, and especially the open support that the Russian Church has given to Putin’s war. The Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is an abomination. I’m gratified by the many condemnations and calls within the worldwide Orthodox Church for the isolation of the Russian Church and its expulsion from the World Council of Churches. Sometimes I get questioned why I don’t speak as much about other wars; for example, I hear from some parishioners who are from the Tigray region of Ethiopia where a vicious civil war has been raging.
All wars are evil, and the war in Tigray has divided many Ethiopian and Eritrean parishioners in our community. I have offered to bring people together in prayer, but so far that has not happened. What sets the Ukraine war apart for me is the ecclesial context: the most populous Orthodox country attacking the country that was the birthplace of what became Russian Orthodoxy. As one commentator put it early in the conflict, it’s like Russia attacking its Jerusalem. And the enthusiastic support for the killings by Kirill defiled Lent, Holy Week and Easter for all Orthodox people around the world. It certainly made this year’s observances very difficult for me. I will never forgive Kirill for this. Putin is a dictator, a murderer, and he is doing what murderers do. But the support and blessing of war crimes by the leader of the Russian Church is beyond redemption and unforgivable. I pray for peace in Ukraine and for the rebuilding of that war-torn land. But I also pray for Russia’s defeat and for God’s judgment to fall on Kirill and all hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.