The war of aggression launched by Russia in 2014 against Ukraine, and continued with a full-scale invasion in 2022, has brought much suffering to Ukrainian soil and hundreds of thousands of deaths, including the murdering of more than 520 children and the destruction of cities and civilian infrastructure. It has caused the largest migration crisis since World War II and brought the entire region to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.
It is well known that the ideological basis of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Russian war crimes, and the genocide of the Ukrainian people is the chauvinistic doctrine of the “Russian world” which is implemented, in practice, in the form of a dictatorship. By analogy with fascism, this can be called “rashism.” This doctrine, in fact an ideology, denies the right of the Ukrainian nation to self-determination, sovereign development (having its own state, language, history, cultural identity, freedom of religion), and ultimately, the right to exist. The Russian dictator, representatives of the Russian authorities, the Moscow Patriarchate and other religious structures closely associated with the authorities, and propaganda media have been claiming for years that Ukrainians, as a people, “do not exist” and that the Ukrainian nation was “artificially created.” Other similar narratives have been spread, as well.
It should be noted that Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev and the Russian Orthodox Church have been, and remain, one of the main creators and propagandists of the “Russian World” ideology, which assumes the exclusivity of Russian civilization and its separation from, and hostile opposition to, others. However, such a position, which excludes or singles out others on the basis of ethnicity or culture, does not correspond to the foundations of the Orthodox faith and Christianity, as such. Inciting hatred and waging war based on the ideology of the “Russian world” violate Christian principles and contradict the spiritual norms that the Church is supposed to embody. This ideology today is a challenge to the preaching of the Gospel in the modern world and destroys the credibility of the Christian testimony regardless of denominations.
Hiding behind the slogans of “protecting the Russian language,” “denazification,” and “desatanization” of Ukraine, the Russian military and occupation authorities are implementing the ideology of the “Russian world” in the temporarily-occupied territories of Ukraine—killing residents who hold pro-Ukrainian views, exterminating intellectuals, and committing mass crimes against the civilian population. Russian missiles, drones, and artillery kill Ukrainians every day and destroy historical and cultural monuments, especially those associated with Ukrainian identity and spiritual heritage. The invaders are looting and destroying Ukrainian museums, archives, theaters, libraries, churches and houses of worship, implementing the ideology of the “Russian world” in religious, cultural, educational, political, and other spheres.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a threat to Christian traditions of all kinds, as well as to other religious traditions (Judaism, Islam, etc.). Emphasizing the “fraternal origin of Ukrainians and Russians who make up the Holy Rus,” blaming the “evil West” for the military actions, and directing religious communities to pray for the victory of Russian aggressors and invaders, the top leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and a number of Russian Protestant unions
demonstrate not a desire for Christian unity and peace but actually approve and encourage hostility and hatred toward the Ukrainian people and the entire free world.
We, the heads of Ukrainian Christian Churches:
– strongly condemn the ideology of the “Russian world” and the position of Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev and the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as other Russian religious associations and leaders who support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, justify the war of aggression, promote hatred of the Ukrainian people, and incite inter-ethnic and interfaith hatred
– express support for the position of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations in their appeal to the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and other international interfaith institutions to consider bringing moral and other responsibility to the Russian Orthodox Church and other Russian religious unions that strongly support the Russian aggression against Ukraine, incite inter-ethnic and interfaith hatred and, through the preaching of the Russian World ideology, encourage the genocide of the Ukrainian people
– express our gratitude to the states and peoples who support Ukraine in its struggle for independence from Russian imperialism, to the churches and faithful in different parts of the world who help the Ukrainian nation in every possible way and offer their prayers for the establishment of a just peace in Ukraine, to international humanitarian organizations who provide assistance to the needy in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, theologians of various churches who condemn the doctrine (ideology) of the “Russian world,” and academic circles of various countries who define the scientific concept of “racism” and its ideological foundations.
We pray for the Ukrainian people, for victory, for the establishment of a just peace, for God’s protection of our land, and the preservation of Ukraine’s independence and freedom!
- Epiphaniy (Dumenko), Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine
- Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Galych
- Vitalii Kryvytskyi, Bishop, Ordinary of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine
- Anatoliy Kozachok, Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Pentecostal Church
- Valerii Antoniuk, Head of the All-Ukrainian Union of the Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists
- Stanislav Nosov, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ukraine
- Leonid Padun, Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church
- Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, Bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church
- Oleksandr Zaitsev, Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Evangelical Church
- Marcos Hovhannisyan, Bishop of the Ukrainian Diocese of Armenian Apostolic Church