Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), sent a message to bishops, priests and all believers in the country not to justify the war in eastern Ukraine with religious slogans. For example, he gave the lives of the two saints Boris and Gleb:
“Why do they honor these saints? How did their love for God and neighbor, as well as for their homeland, manifest itself so clearly and unquestionably? The answer is simple – in their desire to preserve peace and brotherly love in their homeland, even at the cost of their own lives. After the death of the co-apostolic Grand Duke Vladimir, Kievan Rus’ could plunge into long and bloody strife. For this, the holy princes Boris and Gleb only had to claim their rights to the princely throne, gather troops and start an armed struggle for power with their brothers. But they chose another path – the blessed path of peacekeepers who laid down their lives to save the lives of others and preserve their homeland.
Today trouble has come to our home again. Armed opposition continues in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The unprecedented information war continues. Propaganda destroys fraternal relations between nations and breaks even blood ties. Where to seek salvation? How can we overcome difficulties and strife when the seeds of enmity are sown abundantly among the brethren of the faith, and the strife between the brethren of the faith bears bloody fruit?
The blood shed in the last year on our earth cries out to Heaven.
Only the All-Merciful Lord is able to deliver His faithful from all adversity. Only “God is our refuge and strength, our helper in the afflictions that afflict us” (Ps. 45: 2). “Turn unto me, saith the Lord, and ye shall be saved” (Isa. 45:22).
At this difficult time, I call on all the brothers in the faith to always remember their responsibility for the future of our holy church and our homeland, Ukraine. We must do everything possible to end the war and establish the long-awaited peace in our country. For the clergy, any calls for military aggression and enmity are inadmissible. By no means do we have the right to justify war with religious slogans. I call on the Orthodox, who are now on both sides of the armed conflict, to see each other as brothers and to stand in the way of a truce.
We tremble with terror and pain when we see the suffering of God’s people. Sudden death erases all differences between the living. There are no more right or left in the graves. In the graves today lie the children of our church in the East, in the center and in Western Ukraine.
If we do not stop the war in our hearts, it will flare up again. In these days, the Lord gives us the opportunity to test our faith and devotion to the teachings of Christ.
We will ask God to make us wise and fill our hearts with love.
The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Kiev Onufriy addressed the citizens of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin. In it, he described Russia’s military aggression as a “disaster” and called on Putin to end the fratricidal war, which he called “a repeat of Cain’s sin” because it was based on envy.
We publish the full text of the address:
“As the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, I appeal to all citizens of Ukraine. A disaster happened. Unfortunately, Russia has launched hostilities against Ukraine, and at this crucial time I urge you not to panic, to be manly and to show love for your country and for each other. Above all, I call on you for an intensified prayer of repentance for Ukraine, for our army and our people, I ask you to forget our mutual quarrels and misunderstandings and to unite out of love for God and our homeland.
In this tragic time, we express our love and support for our soldiers on duty, who protect and defend our land and our people. God bless them and keep them!
Upholding the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, we turn to the President of Russia and ask for an immediate end to the fratricidal war. The Ukrainian and Russian peoples came out of the Dnieper baptismal font, and the war between these peoples is a repetition of the sin of Cain, who enviously killed his own brother. Such a war has no justification in either God or man.
I call on everyone to common sense, which teaches us to solve earthly problems through mutual dialogue and mutual understanding, and I sincerely hope that God will forgive us our sins and that God’s peace will reign in our land and throughout the world. “