Russian church declares war against Ukraine “holy”

March 29,2024 2427
Russian church declares war against Ukraine “holy”

Russian People’s Council, an organization under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church, has declared full-scale invasion of Ukraine a “holy war”. The so-called “decree” was approved under the leadership of Moscow Patriarch Kirill.

“The special military operation [as Kremlin calls the war against Ukraine – ed.] is a new stage of the national liberation struggle of the Russian people against the criminal Kyiv regime and the collective West standing behind it,” the statement reads.

Russian priests believe that Russian soldiers are defending the “unified spiritual space” and the world from “the tyranny of globalism and the victory of the West, which has fallen into Satanism.”

“Russia is the creator, support, and defender of the “Russkiy mir”. The boundaries of the Russian world, as a spiritual and cultural-civilizational phenomenon, are significantly broader than the state borders of both the modern Russian Federation and the great historical Russia,” the “decree” text says.

“All the deceitfulness of Russian propaganda and all its cynicism are hidden in such seemingly spiritual-moral formulations,” said Serhiy Kasyanchuk, Director of the UWC Mission to Ukraine. “The Russian Orthodox Church sanctifies and blesses the destruction of the entire Ukrainian people, which is an active component of the world Christian community. It sanctifies the weapons that destroy a large part of the Christian world.”

The entire territory of modern Ukraine “must enter the zone of exclusive influence of Russia,” emphasized the Russian clergy. Dozens of church hierarchs and church-related public figures joined the meeting on March 27 in Moscow.

At the same time, Russia continues to torture Ukrainian priests and destroy Ukrainian churches. The Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF) updated the data of The Impact of the Russian Invasion on Faith-Based Communities in Ukraine study, which reports an increase in the number of cases of Russian vandalism against religious structures in Ukrainian territories and damage to churches due to attacks.

Most damage was inflicted by Russian missiles, kamikaze drones, and artillery, including targeted attacks on civilian objects. In addition, some places of worship have been deliberately looted by the Russian military, closed, or converted by the occupying authorities into administrative buildings,” writes IRF.

Most religious structures were destroyed by Russians in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts, including hundreds of churches, prayer houses, synagogues, and mosques.

Mostly, the occupiers target Orthodox churches as well as prayer houses of evangelical churches, according to research findings.

The Kremlin uses religion, particularly Russian religious centers, as a tool of war against Ukraine. In addition to propagating hatred of Ukrainians, the Russian authorities in the occupied territories of Ukraine often practice arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture, and even murder of Ukrainian religious leaders. Those priests, pastors, imams, etc., who did not agree to collaborate and refused to submit to Russian religious centers are subject to repression,” said Oleksandr Zaiets, Board Chairman of the Institute for Religious Freedom, project manager.

The Institute for Religious Freedom has called for public condemnation of the “Russkiy mir” ideology and the position of the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

Cover: Shutterstock

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